Construct Your Future: PSU hosts construction summer camp for kids ages 9 to 14

Jonathan Riley
Morning Sun
Christian Anne Elizabeth “CAE” Wood, left, and Izabelle Bacon build bird houses at Construct Your Future camp on Tuesday.

PITTSBURG, Kan. — This week and next, area kids ages 9 to 14 are learning all about construction, including how to use tools, build different kinds of structures, and practice proper safety precautions, at “Construct Your Future” camp at Pittsburg State University’s Kansas Technology Center.  

“We start with the very basics of construction,” said Jim Otter, chair of PSU’s School of Construction, who is leading the camp. 

“We learned different tools,” Arma 7th grader Andre Fleury said of the first day of camp on Monday. “We learned all the safety rules and we watched videos.” 

This is Fleury’s first summer at Construct Your Future camp. Pittsburg Community Middle School 7th grader Jackson Muckala, however, has been attending for the last few years — which would have included 2020 if the camp wasn’t cancelled due to COVID-19 — and said he would “most definitely” recommend the camp to his friends.  

“You learn to use the tools, you learn how to build stuff, and most of all you learn to use teamwork,” Muckala said, adding that Construct Your Future camp is preparing him for the career he hopes to pursue in the future. 

“I want to be a construction worker when I grow up, kind of following the path of my dad,” he said. 

Izabelle Bacon, meanwhile, who will be starting 6th grade at St. Mary’s Colgan in the fall, similarly said she was motivated to attend the camp because of a project she did with her father. 

“My dad got me into it, because last summer we built a shed together,” she said, “and that’s what really inspired me to come to this camp.”  

On Tuesday, Construct Your Future campers were building bird houses. On Wednesday they were set to build bridges, followed by dog houses on Thursday and Friday. 

“They’re big dog houses,” said Otter. “They’re for a German Shepherd-sized dog. And they’ll build that in teams.” 

Christian Anne Elizabeth “CAE” Wood, who will be starting 5th grade this year at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin, said she hopes to put the bird house she built Tuesday to practical use. 

“I have a lot of birds in my yard and it’d be cute to get some pictures,” she said. “I like taking photographs of nature.” 

Wood said that she hopes to be an archaeologist or an architect when she grows up, and that the practical knowledge she gains from Construct Your Future camp will be particularly useful if she follows the latter of those career paths. 

“I really appreciate it, because most adults don’t think that tools are safe for kids anymore,” she said. 

Frontenac 5th grader Brayden Wright, meanwhile, said he got a chance to use drills, hammers, an electric saw and an air nailer on Monday — all of which he has used before, he said, but he can always use more practice. 

“I already know how to use power tools and stuff like that,” Wright said, “but I want to learn to how to do it better and more safe if I can.”