ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Summer is a season of adventure and growth, and for a group of young kids aged 12-15, that growth involves getting their hands dirty at Camp Hard Hat. 

This week-long day camp is no ordinary summer experience. It provides local kids with the opportunity to learn and actively participate in community-based construction projects. As these young participants embrace the chance to contribute to their communities and explore potential career paths, they are also gaining life skills and leaving an impact on those they help.

What You Need To Know

  • A week-long day camp for kids aged 12-15 focused on community-based construction projects

  • Kids gain valuable skills, contribute to their communities, and explore potential career paths

  • Projects like building a privacy fence for animals foster empathy and responsibility toward animals' well-being

Camp Hard Hat sets out to show kids that they can achieve something they can be proud of while stepping away from their couches for just one week of the summer. With seven locations, each camp caters to specific community needs. This week's camp at Lollypop Farm involves the students building a privacy fence for animals, a project that goes beyond basic construction and demonstrates the importance of empathy and understanding.

Jared Radesi, an instructor for Camp Hard Hat, emphasizes the significance of this initiative.

"Not all animals like attention, especially if they come from an abused home," he said.

The camp instills in the young participants a sense of responsibility toward animals' well-being and provides them with an opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives.

At Camp Hard Hat, the kids are not just passive observers but active participants. Sariah Calhoun-Jackson, a 13-year-old student at the camp, shares her experience.

"Right now, I'm measuring the layout," she said. "I'm going to set it up there and like, screw it to make sure that's all set. And we're going to go over there and do the same thing." 

Her enthusiasm and dedication to the task at hand are an example of the spirit of the camp attendees.

For Sariah, this is not her first summer at Camp Hard Hat. What she learned in previous years allowed her to contribute significantly at home.

"I do help my mom at home, like, put things together a lot," she said. "When I found out that we were coming here, it was cool because last year I had the same camp. It was kind of an inspiring thing to come and help these dogs and animals and help them feel safe, just like we need. I love this, it's amazing."

Camp Hard Hat's impact extends beyond the summer. Jared Radesi highlights the significance of the camp experience.

"They're going to be able to bring their children back and show them, 'I built this when I was 12 years old.' You know, so that's the whole magic of the whole thing," Radesi said.

The camp fosters a sense of accomplishment and pride that stays with the kids for years to come, instilling a strong foundation for their future endeavors.

Camp Hard Hat's popularity has soared, leading to its expansion from two to seven locations this summer. With four locations in Monroe County and one in Livingston County, the camp has become an accessible experience for children in the region. 

The cost of the camp is $95. Additionally, scholarships are available for low-to-moderate-income families, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to participate.