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Bridges inspires students at new Career Skills Camp

On Wednesday and Thursday, October 21-22, 2015, more than 80 students from 13 school districts will gather at Camp Shamineau in Motley, MN, to participate in the first ever Bridges Career Skills Camp. This 2-day learning adventure will offer students the opportunity to strengthen their relationship skills, teach team-building, expand their problem-solving abilities and understand their personal career attitude through hands-on activities that also build confidence, self-esteem and other skills critical to being successful in life.

The Bridges team envisioned this camp as an extension of the Bridges Career Academies curriculum after learning from local employers that the need for “soft skills training.” A key soft skill is the ability of employees to interact and communicate effectively with others

Camp leader Judy Richer, the Bridges Career Academies Coordinator, said “each activity seeks to fundamentally change the way students explore and determine their future careers.” Richer added that everyone involved is energized after learning how thrilled area educators are with the camp concept.

Activities include small-group discussions and team-building exercises. Participants will be transported to and from Motley via bus, provided with great meals and experience many of the recreational opportunities Camp Shamineau has to offer, including an indoor climbing wall and skate park, low and high ropes course, horseback riding, archery and more.

Thanks to the support of the Otto Bremer Foundation, this Bridges Career Skills Camp is being offered at no cost to the students.

Students who are currently enrolled in a Bridges Career Academy or active with CLC’s Upward Bound program were invited to attend. Schools represented at the camp include: Aitkin, Bertha-Hewitt, Brainerd, Browerville, Crosby-Ironton, Henning, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Pequot Lakes, Pierz/Healy, Pillager, Pine River-Backus, Staples-Motley, and Verndale.

Betsy Picciano, Central Lakes College’s Director of Secondary Relations, worked closely with Richer to develop this camp. “Central Lakes College is eager to extend the learning of the Career Academies beyond the walls of the classroom,” said Picciano. She added that “Camp Shamineau is always an incredible place to visit, but in the fall, it’s just spectacular.”

The Bridges Career Skills Camp is just one of many programs and projects initiated by the Bridges Career Academies & Workplace Connection. The program was developed to better integrate work-based learning between schools and business. The Bridges Career Academies, coordinated by Central Lakes College, are a sequence of high school courses that focus on career pathways. Curriculum is developed by high school teachers and each course includes technical skills, foundational skills and workplace experiences. The Workplace Connection, supported by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, is an intermediary between schools and business to integrate work-based learning through the Career Depot, Immersion Camps, Workplace Tours, Speakers Bureau for the Classroom, and an annual Career Exploration Day.

Currently, 23 school districts are involved with Bridges programs through the Central Lakes Carl Perkins Consortium.

Mary Gottsch, Director of the Bridges Workplace Connection, added, “businesses are exited to engage with future employment prospects. We can already see how connecting businesses and students in a non-traditional setting like this camp will be beneficial to everyone.”

The Bridges Career Academies & Workplace Connection is funded in part by the following organizations: Blandin Foundation, Brainerd Area Rotary Club, Brainerd Area Sertoma Club, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, Central Lakes Carl Perkins Consortium Funding, Crow Wing Power, Initiative Foundation, MicoNet/ChamberMaster, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, National Joint Powers Alliance, Otto Bremer Foundation, Region Five Development Commission, and iRural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (Rural MN Cep). Bridges is supported by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and it’s Education Association, Central Lakes College, and participating school districts. For more information about the Bridges Career Academies & Workplace Connection program, visit www.BridgesConnection.org, or call (218) 822-7117.


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