Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Kenosha middle schoolers get a taste of construction at Riley’s summer camp

By: Ethan Duran//July 24, 2023//

Kenosha middle schoolers get a taste of construction at Riley’s summer camp

By: Ethan Duran//July 24, 2023//

Listen to this article
Riley's summer camp
Chris Meier of Riley Construction, right, talks to students from the Kenosha Unified School District about construction careers. The company hosted a four-day summer camp for area students with classroom and hands-on instruction. Staff photo by Ethan Duran

Middle school students from the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) on Monday took part in hands-on and classroom construction training at Riley Construction’s Kenosha headquarters. This was part of Riley’s building summer camp program, which takes place from Monday to Thursday.

A total of 31 students in 7th, 8th and 9th grades learned about different trades such as bricklaying, carpentry and cement masonry at six hands-on training stations inside the headquarters shop, Chris Meier, a project executive for Riley Construction, said.

Around 90 youths enrolled into a lottery program to attend, but the ones that didn’t make it can still enroll in STEM courses in middle school or a construction careers pathway in high school, Aaron Williams, technical education coordinator for KUSD, added.

Kids also learned about construction careers in the back end such as project delivery, accounting, safety and risk and preconstruction. The teachers were Riley trades workers and interns who took time off projects to instruct.

The summer camp isn’t a pre-requisite for future trades-related courses in school, but an application for students to see how they like it at first, Williams said.

“This is an opportunity for (students) to try it in a safe environment and see where to go next, see if they like it,” Williams said.

Though most of the students present were still too young for high school youth apprenticeships, they showed interest in the work, Andrew Knudsen, a Riley intern who goes to Milwaukee School of Engineering for construction management, said. He and several interns were on-site to answer questions.

“They signed up and are passionate about the program. We wanted to instill it in them early,” Knudsen added.

The school district reached out after working on projects with Riley in the past and developed the camp, Meier said. Williams’ team created hands-on learning experiences kids would find exciting and offer them insight into potential building trade pathways, he added.

“It’s really a labor of love for both KUSD and us,” Meier said, noting creating the camp used an “all hands” approach and Riley construction staff ranging from the executive team to field laborers.

With more than 500,000 construction labor jobs needing to be filled in 2023, the company homed in on youth coming up through local high school students, Meier said. “There’s certainly a need to fill self-performing trade jobs in the future,” he added.

Meier said his goals with the summer camp was to establish the program and make it repeatable, “and continue to offer an opportunity to local students to participate every year.”

KUSD and Riley officials started planning the summer camp in 2021, Williams said. The school district put an ad out, he added. One student said his parents told him about the program.

Riley's summer camp
Students learn to place concrete blocks with the help of Riley pros. (Staff photo by Ethan Duran)


Is the labor shortage getting:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Today’s News

See All Today's News

Project Profiles

See All Project Profiles