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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Camp in Sylvania helps kids build on success

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Justin Sauppe, 14, uses a nail gun and Bob Johnson holds the spacing as together they assemble a chair during last week's Construction Fun Camp at Sylvania Southview High School. Justin Sauppe, 14, uses a nail gun and Bob Johnson holds the spacing as together they assemble a chair during last week's Construction Fun Camp at Sylvania Southview High School.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Though he aspires to become a musician, Tanner Wertz went to construction camp last week at Sylvania Southview High School.

His reasoning? Tanner hopes to emulate rock musician Eddie Van Halen and handcraft his own guitars.

"I'm hoping to use the construction skills I learn here to build custom guitars," said the 14-year-old from Sylvania Township while assembling the back of a wooden lawn chair he was making as a project for the class.

Tanner, who will enter the eighth grade in the fall, has been playing guitar for 2 1/2 years and said he's "working on" organizing a band.

Clarence McCune, 14, left, and Ben Diehl, also 14, glue a cross-piece for the chair they are making at the camp. Clarence McCune, 14, left, and Ben Diehl, also 14, glue a cross-piece for the chair they are making at the camp.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Tanner was one of eight boys from the Sylvania school district who enrolled in the weeklong Construction Fun Camp at Southview last week.

Along with building the so-called Chattahoochee chairs in the school's wood shop, participants went on field trips to Toledo-area construction-trades educational facilities, including the technical education center at Owens Community College, the Northwest Ohio Construction Education Center, and local offices of the carpenters' and plumbers' unions, which offer apprenticeships.

The camp's purpose, instructor Bob Johnson said, was to give participants a first look at educational and career opportunities in the construction trades.

"We want to show them what's available during high school and after high school, during the college years," Mr. Johnson said. The chair project "gives them something to take home" and provides an opportunity for campers to test their carpentry aptitude.

At $15, registration for construction camp was a bargain, with the rest of the project's costs covered by an Ohio Department of Education grant through the Greater Northwest Ohio Tech/Prep Consortium, Lori Taylor, the Sylvania school's career-tech director, said.

Offered for the first time this year, the construction camp won't run again this summer, but could run again next year.

Other campers' interests in signing up for last week's program weren't quite so exotic as the Wertz boy's.

"I like to build things," said Scott Anderson, 13, who also will be in the eighth grade. "I thought it would be a good way to spend [part of] my summer."

Cody Kwiatkowski, 13, who lives in western Toledo within the Sylvania school district, said he became interested in construction through his father, who builds home-theater cabinets and recently built a pergola over an outdoor deck at the family home.

Cody said he expects to choose between construction or digitial-imaging technology - "because I'm good at that, too" - when it comes time to pursue a career.

And Ben Diehl, 14, who will enter the ninth grade in the fall, said he has "always been interested in construction work," an avocation pursued by a California uncle who builds homes.

Even if he doesn't make his living in construction, Ben said the camp experience will be useful.

"You learn some techniques you can use when you have a house of your own," he said.



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