Rising Salina South High School freshman Colton Jensen has aspirations of becoming a welder.
“It’s what I love to do and if I could pick any career it would be in welding, for sure,” he said.
To further enhance his welding knowledge, for the past two years Jensen has attended the Salina Area Technical College Summer Camp, a four-day venture where students learn skills in welding, construction, electrical wiring and diesel technology.
The education and experience Jensen has received during the camp “has helped me plan out my future,” he said.
“I think I’m ahead of the curve in some ways,” he said. “I’ve learned so much about how to weld, how to get the right angle you want and to go slow. I plan on coming back again next year if I can.”
Jensen was one of 54 students in grades six through 10 who attended this year’s summer camp, up from last year’s 32 students.
Lara Duran, educational services coordinator at Salina Tech, said about 60 students were on a waiting list for the camp last year, “so we gave first priority this year to those students.”
Partnerships between local business and organizations, including the Greater Salina Community Foundation, Great Plains Manufacturing, Premier Food Service and Interstates, allowed the college to take on more students this year.
“If we could have hundreds of kids on the campus, we would, but that number is capped off for safety,” Duran said.
Duran said the commitment to the camp by local businesses shows “they are investing in the students.”
“We wanted to be purposeful when creating the pipeline. This exposes the students to these careers and the different technology used,” she said. “I think the businesses are recognizing the need and parents are reinforcing it.”
The sponsorships also allow the price of the camp, where students spend four hours on campus for four consecutive days, to stay reasonable at $30 for the week.