New program introduces Boys & Girls Club members to building trades

Staff photo by Sam Yu

Andres Enriquez, 12, of the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County, tries out a nail gun Friday afternoon at a home construction site off Brethren Church Road. Supervising are Josh Wivell, far left, lead carpenter, and Mark Lancaster, far right, owner of Lancaster Craftsmen Builders.

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County donned construction hats Friday, but not as their Halloween costumes.

The headgear was worn for a new pilot program that teaches youngsters about jobs in the trade industries and the Frederick County Public Schools Career and Technology Center.

Eight boys from Monocacy Middle School spent Friday afternoon with Lancaster Craftsmen Builders, watching construction of a house in Myersville. Next week, they will take a tour of CTC.

Not all children are bound for college, and there is a shortage of certified workers in the trades, according to Patrick Gunnin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County. Students apply for the CTC as high school sophomores but sometimes may need to start the course work in middle school, he said.

"This gets them starting to think about what they want to do when they get into high school," he said.

The program was advertised to all Boys & Girls Club members from Monocacy Middle School, Gunnin said, because the school is across the street from CTC, according to Gunnin.

"It was more, 'Who wants to go on a field trip to see a house being built?'" he said. "It wasn't really scientific."

Mark Lancaster, owner of Lancaster Craftsmen Builders and a Boys & Girls Club board member, said the plan is to introduce the middle schoolers to carpentry and framing, electrical and HVAC work, and plumbing. Certified workers in those trades are in short supply, he said.

"They can get instant jobs," he said. "We want to be able to get kids just out of school jobs besides flipping hamburgers."

Those jobs pay at least the median income and provide opportunities for advancement, according to Lancaster, who said he started out working as a framing contractor.

"Now I run all the trades," he said. "It is not a dead-end career by any stretch of the imagination."

Even if someone starts out in the trades and then switches fields, Lancaster said, the skill set stays with them when it comes to working on their own home.

"It's like riding a bike. You never forget it," he said.

Sixth-graders Marquise Walker and Darryl Yartley were surprised by the quantity of tools and details that go into building a house, they said. It seems to take a brave person to do the job right, according to Marquise, 11.

"You have to be on top of the house (frame) when they don't have something underneath it," he said.

Both boys said they wanted to go to college. Darryl, 12, wants to study art, and Marquise wants to attend Virginia Tech or Liberty University and eventually play in the NBA.

"To play in the NBA, you need to finish high school," Gunnin told him. "You need to know how to count all your millions."

Follow Laura Dukes on Twitter: @LauraDukesFNP.

(2) comments


This looks like a great program, and I support it.

Eye protection is essential on the job site, especially when operating a nail gun. Approved eye protection is available for the youths and guests at stores like Walmart or Ace for about $5 a pair. A small price to pay for safety.


Congratulations to these students who saw a need and had a desire to check out possibilities ahead. As the Baby Boomers age our of the trades, there are not enough replacements for them. A career in the trades does not rule out college. There are many successful college graduates who attended the Career and Technology Center. Kudos to all involved in this program.

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