GREENVILLE– In four teams, 21 area students, or campers, were working to develop a product or service according to a set challenge for Darke County Summer Manufacturing Camp at the Greenville Senior High School on Wednesday.
Those challenges included improving the speed of a football, getting out of bed on time, inventing a new form of transportation, and encouraging kids to cook. The campers, those going into seventh and eighth grade, came from schools across the county, including St. Mary’s.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Tamala Marley, Workforce Specialist at Darke County Ohio Economic Development. She explained the camp’s purpose is to expose students to a wide variety of local career opportunities in manufacturing. The campers have a chance not only to see a production line but many of the processes behind the scenes, such as design, engineering, product supply, human resources, IT, and much more.
Camp facilitators Dr. Andrea Townsend, Director of Career Technology & Special Education, and Heather Suerdieck, with Inside Out Coaching LLC, shared their outlook and goals for the week.
“[It’s] meaningful for students,” said Dr. Townsend. She shared how they work to encourage campers to apply their interests, what they enjoy, and what they are good at, and find connections with employers or connecting the dots, this year’s summer camp theme. “I find us talking about not just manufacturing but things that apply anywhere to school, sports, fine arts, religious leadership, whatever they are involved in.”
Dr. Townsend emphasized the campers’ group spirit as well as the great partnerships with area employers and the many benefits to the camp, including advocacy.
“Sometimes middle schoolers have trouble communicating with one another and adults,” said Dr. Townsend, explaining how they encourage campers to advocate for themselves, such as asking questions. “It’s really fun to watch them grow each day.”
Suerdieck spoke about the camp’s theme, connecting the dots, which began with campers creating a poster showcasing what they like, what they value, and even what they may lose themselves in and developing questions to ask along the way. Dots represented all these interests.
“We created awareness around their dots,” continued Suerdieck, with campers then tasked to match their dots with the manufacturer’s dots or their company values and culture.
Those participating manufacturers included JAFE, Midmark, Fort Recovery Industries, and Whirlpool. “It is very simple, but everybody gets it.”
The camp, going on its third year, is a partnership not only with area manufacturers but with the Greenville C-Tec Education Center, Darke County Economic Development, Edison State Community College, the Darke County Foundation, and West Tech Prep Region.
“We’re so grateful for all our partners,” said Marley, who shared Greenville City Schools has generously provided the space and buses for transportation. And joining the campers were camp counselors consisting of four high school students from the Greenville Sr. High Careers with Children program.
Along with product creation and tours, campers also had a special visit from manufacturing leaders to see their projects, share company “dots,” and answer questions.
On Friday, campers will have the opportunity to present their product or service to the group with a sales pitch or marketing strategy. It is a chance to share their hard work after a week of team building, project design and prototyping, and building.
While the camp is all about teamwork, cooperation, continuous improvement, communication, and everything essential in employment, whether the campers build careers in manufacturing or not, it’s also about friendship.
When campers were asked what they hoped to gain from Summer Manufacturing Camp, both Marley and Dr. Townsend shared the student response was friendship.
For more information about Summer Manufacturing Camp and other opportunities, visit www.darkecounty.com.