Inaugural Mind over Metal Camp Inspires Young Welder to Pursue Welding

Inaugural Mind over Metal Camp Inspires Young Welder to Pursue Welding

It was just over two years ago when the Canadian Welding Association Foundation (CWA Foundation) hosted its first Mind over Metal welding camp at St. Joseph High School in Edmonton, Alberta.

Roughly 25 kids aged 12-16 spent a week learning about welding safety, the various opportunities in the welding profession, and then they got a chance to flip the lid down and make some arcs and sparks.

For one attendee Matthew Kootenay, now 17, the hands on experience to weld several projects and build meaningful relationships with new friends sparked his interest to switch schools so he could attend St. Joseph High School full time and hone his skills in their welding program.

“I really enjoy welding, the teachers at St. Joseph because of the creative projects they get us to weld as a class.”

“The welding camp really was a lot of fun. It’s what got me interested in welding. Making something with your hands and seeing the finished product is a lot of fun. There’s so much to welding. It’s a really great job and when I’m done school I’m going to be a welder.”

For Matthew, his camp experience has come full circle. During the second Mind over Metal camp hosted at St. Joseph in 2015, Matthew helped out with the camp in a big way – being a volunteer mentor to the first time camp attendees.

“Teaching and mentoring the younger kids was fantastic,” he said. “Seeing how they had so much fun was great. It’s interesting to see how they become independent and work hard on finishing their projects to the best of their abilities. It’s great – I can’t wait to do it again.”

Jethro Ulrich, St. Joseph High School welding instructor, said Matthew’s commitment to the program and his desire to excel is inspiring.

“Matthew is a great student and mentor to the rest of the class and comes with his A game every day. He really tries his best every day to be the best welder he can be – it’s inspiring to his classmates. It’s a pleasure having him in the classroom.”

Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the CWA Foundation, said the goal of the camps was to introduce students to the welding profession in a safe environment with the hopes they would pursue welding in some capacity, whether as a welder, welding inspector, welding engineer, welding educator or even a welding supervisor.

“These camps are designed to provide students with hands on experience of what welding is all about and introduce them to all the possibilities in the profession,” she said. “Hearing Matthew’s testimonial and how the camp impacted his future decision in terms of his career choice is indicative that sometimes all kids need is a helping hand to understand their full potential – and when they do, the sky is the limit.”

Last year, the CWA Foundation hosted 13 camps all across the country, this year 35 Mind over Metal camps are planned – a total investment of close to $250,000.