Have torch, will travel: Mind over Metal welding camps fire up a passion for the trades

CWB Welding Foundation’s hands-on initiative shows youth the benefits of a welding career

It’s Mind over Metal. And it’s cause for motivation.

Since 2014, the CWB Welding Foundation has held hands-on welding camps for youth across Canada. These Mind over Metal camps not only put a welding rod in campers’ hands—they’ve also been known to plant a seed in many a mind.

“What strikes me the most is the creativity that the kids have, and are able to pursue through the camp experience,” says Susan Crowley, executive director of the CWB Welding Foundation.

“They love it. Their faces just light up talking about it,” adds Crowley. “It’s so gratifying to see perceptions change, the potential for new career paths that they want to explore—and it’s happening at the right time in their lives.”

The CWB Welding Foundation’s week-long Mind over Metal camps introduce teens aged 12 through 15 to welding processes and techniques, while also changing their perceptions about the trades and demonstrating that welding is a meaningful and financially stable career.

The foundation partners with secondary schools, post-secondary institutes and community organizations to host these camps, with financial support from the industry. During the 2018-19 season, there were 68 camps held in nearly every Canadian province for youths, both from Indigenous communities and the general population.

“There’s a real underlying emphasis in these camps on the importance of staying in school, especially in the underserviced communities,” says Crowley. “There are so many directions they can take—a welder, welding inspector, quality control, management, labor.

“A welding career has so much flexibility. And if you’ve been doing it for a while, you can travel the world. There are so many opportunities available.”

To stage these camps, the CWB Welding Foundation often partners with small businesses or corporations to defray the costs of materials, like steel and rods, and protective equipment, including goggles, gloves and respirators.

Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the communities near our projects and operations—including Indigenous communities, with whom we strive to share our success through contractor and supplier agreements, training and employment, and capacity development.

During the week of July 8, Enbridge will sponsor two Mind over Metal camps in Saskatchewan—one at Balgonie’s Greenall High School, and an all-girls camp at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Regina campus.

“We’re thankful for the support of companies like Enbridge,” says Crowley. “With Enbridge in particular, the employees have really driven the support of these camps. It is such important testament for these kids that there’s a future for them in the trades.”

(TOP PHOTO: During the 2018-19 season, the CWB Welding Foundation held 68 camps in nearly every Canadian province for youths, both from Indigenous communities and the general population.)