Camp teaches teenagers to weld

A welding camp participant watches as an instructor uses a blow torch to prepare a metal rose for shaping at the annual Mind of Metal camp at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A few years ago, the thought of potentially becoming a welder hadn’t even entered Mikayla Highway’s mind.

Now, though, after three years at welding camp, it’s something she’s contemplating as a career.

“I didn’t know anything about welding before ti came here,” she said.

“It’s something new and I’m actually really good at it. I didn’t know I’d be good at something like this until I came here.”

Highway is one of 12 youth teens attending the Mind over Metal welding summer camp for girls in Grades 9-12.

The week-long camp is being hosted at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Thursday the students were putting the finishing touches on roses they had welded, bent and shaped out of flat pieces of metal.

“It’s about making new things every year,” Highway said.

“I go online and search up things and it encourages me to come back.”
When she first attended the welding camp, Highways aid she was wary of some of the equipment.

“But as long as you know what you’re doing,” she said,” it gets easier and more fun. That’s kind of what makes me want to come back.”

That process of learning and exploring is part of what the camp is all about.

Tammie Pawlust, one of the camp instructors, said that by day three, the students are trying everything.

“One of the biggest things is just letting them know that they can think outside of the box,” she said.

While more women are showing interest in the skilled trades, Pawlust said, she hasn’t seen a large increase int eh number of women entering trades.

Still, the camp has a ton of skills the students can take away.

“There’s confidence-building, definitely,” she said.

“They’re trying something totally new and succeeding at it, so that gives them some confidence.

“Even if it’s not a welding career they’re going for, they’ll be looking outside of the box and trying something new.”