In B.C. female lone parents formed 82.4% of all lone parents.

GETT Camps
Tapping the Community - A GETT Camp Manual

What is a GETT Camp?

"GETT stands for Girls Exploring Trades and Technology. A GETT camp is a week-long day camp for girls just out of grades 6 and 7. Each session provides a group of West Kootenay Girls with the opportunity to design, build and race soap box derby style go-karts. Along the way, girls meet and observe successful women working in trades, technology, math and science occupations. Technical skills learned include the safe and proper use of hand and power tools, shop safety, wood working, metal working, painting, basic electrical wiring, and even how to change a car tire. Participants grow in self-confidence, and broaden their view of educational and career paths open to them.

The 1996 West Kootenay GETT Camp Series

The second annual West Kootenay GETT camp series took place in July at the Nelson Campus of Selkirk College. The project wass co-sponsored by Kootenay Women in Trades and Technology , Selkirk College, and the West Kootenay Women's Association. Thirty-six girls just out of grades 6 and 7 were selected by draw from the applications received.

Major funders this year included the Vancouver Foundation, the Apprenticeship Branch of the Ministry of Labour, BC Hydro, West Kootenay Power, and Kootenay West Science, Technology and Innovation Council. Many local service groups, businesses and individuals contributed materials, money and other forms of support (i.e. staff time) to ensure the success of the camps. Community participation on advisory committees helped spread the word about the camps and to involve the public. Publicity generated by the camps increased public awareness about issues of gender equity in the workplace, and provides visibility for sponsors in the community.

GETT camp application forms were distributed through over 40 area schools. Print and broadcast media provided coverage of camp events and activities. The last day of the camp sessions included a barbeque and go-kart race for participants, their families, and for camp sponsors. GETT Camp t-shirts and go-karts taken home by camp participants to communities throughout the West Kootenays increased enthusiasm and awareness of GETT Camps and their objectives.

Fostering Employment Equity

Research has shown that personal and career patterns are set far earlier than we had previously believed. If young women drop out of math, science and technology courses in high school, gender equity initiatives started later than junior high school are doomed to failure and women will continue to be under represented in trades, professional, administration, science, technical and operating jobs. GETT camps serve in four ways to increase girls' awareness of a broad range of occupations they might otherwise overlook:
  • proving to them that trades/technical work is fun
  • boosting their self-confidence and skill levels
  • introducing them to successful women role models
  • encouraging them to remain in school and to enroll in math, science, technical and shop courses
By broadening girls' knowledge of occupations open to them and ensuring that they select appropriate secondary courses to leave doors open to them in many fields, we can ensure that more young women can take advantage of apprenticeships, trade school and other post secondary training programmes to increase their participation in good, well-paying jobs where women currently make up a very small percentage of the work force.

Reasons for the Role Modelling Component in GETT Camps

goBecause we learn by experience and by example, there are two essential components of the GETT camps. The first is the hands~on shop experience of designing, building and racing the go-karts. The second component is role modelling.

Camp instructors and shop assistants are women in trades and technology. A panel of successful women role models comes to speak for an afternoon. Girls learn about the educational requirements and personal aptitudes needed for success in the role models' given fields. A field trip to local job sites provides girls with the opportunity to observe women on the job and to become familiar with various aspects of their work. Some research indicates that role models have their greatest impact on students in the middle grades (before stereotypes are too deeply entrenched and high school courses selected.) GETT camps complement the Personal and Career Planning curriculum in the public schools, preparing students to make wise choices during their high school years.

The positive impact of role models cannot be underestimated. Of the 700 elementary school children participating in a 1986 Labour Canada research project entitled, "When I Grow Up ... Career Expectations and Aspirations of Canadian School Children," only little boys from Baie-Comeau listed their first choice of career as "Prime Minister." The report underscores the significance of a single role model in a community: "The influence of even a single role model came to light when it was noticed that the respondents in one of the communities in the province of Quebec were very likely to believe that future dentists could be EITHER both men and women OR women only. That particular community is served by a woman who specializes in children's dentistry." Other children in the study believed dentists would be ONLY men.

Women in the Labour Force

Current facts about the participation of women in the workforce indicate that Women represent a large proportion of the labour force in Canada, but continue to face barriers to equal opportunity. (See "Facts, Figures & the Future" for some current statistics compiled by Kootenay Women in Trades and Technology.)

Advantages to Sponsors

GETT camp sponsorship provides many advantages to sponsors. GETT camps have a high media profile because they provide wonderful copy and for print and broadcast media. Camps are fun for everyone involved, and issues around women in the workplaces are timely, handled in a positive way, and of interest to the public.

GETT camp graduates are young women with increased confidence and skills who are more likely to make educational choices which will keep their career options open to a wide variety of good jobs.

In the long run, GETT camps will contribute to a healthier community in which women have equal opportunity alongside men to pursue their career goals and use their talents. Increasing the pool of skilled people in the work force will be of benefit to employers and business as well as to the workers and their families.

This project directly serves 36 girls from throughout the West Kootenay area. These girls are in grades 6 and 7 and range in age from 11 to 14.

Volunteer Involvement

There is a large component of volunteer work in our GETT camp project. Last year the management committee of 3 members put in a total of 45 hours and the more broadly based community advisory committee of 9 members put in a total of 84 hours. In preparation for and during the camp itself 14 women donated 118 hours in set up, preparation, assistance with some shop portions and with the final race day and barbeque.

For More information contact

Kootenay WITT
R.R. # 1, Winlaw, British Columbia V0G2J0
Phone: (604) 226-7624 Fax: 226-7954

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