A group of kids traded in 10 days of carefree summer in the heat of the sunshine for the heat of the kitchen.
Assiniboine Community College has hosted a 10-day youth culinary camp for 14 students from Grades 6 to 8, set to wrap up today.
The culinary camp is part of the provincial government’s Building for Tomorrow Summer Program, consisting of 12 summer camps held across the province in an effort to attract more students into careers in the skilled trades.
But for the group of students cooking up a storm in ACC’s massive kitchen, it’s more than just learning to make delicious meals from scratch.
"They’ve picked up a little bit of life skills," said instructor Derek May, who teaches culinary arts at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School.
Those life skills, such as nutrition, food safety and teamwork, will last them the rest of their lives, he said.
Before starting the program, May said most of the kids had no skills in the kitchen and their only experience was cooking something from a jar or package.
Yesterday, students were making cakes, cookies, soups and butter chicken, to name just a few dishes, and all their skills will be served up today for their parents in a form of a lunch buffet.
May described the camp as a condensed version of the program offered to high school students and said progress was obvious over the course of 10 short days.
"They’re all taking what they learned here and taking it home," May said.
"They’ve got as much to teach me as I have to teach them ... so they’re coming to me with recipes they want to make."
Building for Tomorrow Summer Program is a one-year pilot program announced in this year’s budget and rolled out in June.
Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell made an appearance in the ACC kitchen yesterday for a photo opportunity, a chance to speak with the students and to increase the public’s awareness of the government’s program.
"These are summer camps for young Manitobans, disadvantaged for the most part, in a career-oriented skills camp," Caldwell said.
The government pledged $200,000 for the one-year pilot, with a focus on finding participants who have traditionally been under-represented in the trades, including girls, Aboriginal Peoples, new Canadians and children from lower-income families. Around 230 young people enrolled this year.
Other camps hosted by colleges and businesses focus on carpentry, plumbing, electrical, mechanics and landscaping, with ACC hosting its own carpentry camp in the coming weeks.
"We’re hoping to learn from this one and make it a regular program," said Ryan Redpath, manager of program development with Apprenticeship Manitoba.
The program is part of the government’s pledge to grow the provincial workforce by 75,000 by 2020.
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