Wire Former Goes Green with Girl Scout CAMP CEO

by Mary Fitzgerald, President, Acme Wire Products Co., Inc.

“Going Green” is a popular term nowadays. Usually it refers to an individual or a company promoting itself as operating in an environmentally friendly manner, whether though the use (or re-use) of materials, processes or utilities. When I was asked if I wanted to “go green” recently, I thought I would be reviewing a new lubricant for machinery or using some recycled materials.

Little did I know I would be camping outdoors with a group of teenaged Girl Scouts and fellow female CEOs for a week entitled CAMP CEO in Connecticut! CAMP CEO is a program offered by the Girl Scouts of Connecticut to provide older Girl Scouts ages 15-17 the opportunity to learn professional skills from senior level women executives in a fun, casual camp setting. In this case, the term GREEN refers to both the outdoor experience and also the Girl Scouting organization.

CAMP CEO has been run by the Girl Scouts in different states or councils for the past few years. Due to the success it has enjoyed in other parts of the country, Girl Scouts of Connecticut is introducing the program to Girl Scouts within Connecticut. The program is offered at Camp Laurel in Lebanon, CT for four days & three nights. The Scouts and women will be working together and learning from each other.

What will these girls want to know about the professional world and the world of manufacturing and family business that I work in? To begin with, the lessons that I learned as a Girl Scout helped me achieve my goals and gave me the confidence to pursue a career that is not usually considered by many women.

The big secret in the world of manufacturing or metal fabrication (of which wire forming is a part) is that no one, whether they are male or female, says to him or herself when they are growing up – “I want to be a wire bender/metal fabricator!” You may say to yourself, “I want to be like dad or mom” but you may not know what mom or dad actually do all day once they leave home.

The Bring Your Daughter/Son to Work Day was originated to increase children’s awareness of their parents’ occupations. However, exposing young people to occupations that they might not know about or have considered is one of the great benefits for me of participating in the CAMP CEO program. This program can help teenaged girls in the Girl Scouting program explore different occupations, meet women in different professions and develop relationships with these women that may help open their eyes to new opportunities.

When I was a teenager, I had the privilege (although I didn’t think so at the time) to go to work with my dad during the summer in his small factory. My summer job consisted of learning some basic office tasks to fill in for the office staff while they took summer vacations. In addition to opening and sorting the mail, making out bank deposits, filing, answering the phones and matching invoices to shipping paperwork, I also worked in the factory checking the quality of the parts and packing parts for shipment. I learned to be comfortable and confident in a factory setting and when I graduated from college and was looking for my first “real” job, most of the companies I applied to were other manufacturing companies.

When I began my first “real” job at a specialty wire mill, there were no women working in the factory. When I left that company three years later, women were working on the manufacturing floor. Perhaps, in some small way, I had helped open those doors.

Some of the other professional women participating in Connecticut’s CAMP CEO this year are Lynn Pasquerella, Provost, University of Hartford, Jill Adams, Principal, Adams & Knight Advertising and Public Relations and Kathy Luria, Vice President Community Affairs for Webster Bank. I am sure there will be as much learning going on between the professional women as there will be between the scouts and the women. Jennifer Smith Turner, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut will also be camping with the girls present. What a wonderful opportunity for the CEO of Connecticut Girl Scouts to get open and honest feedback from the girls she represents!

Girls have so much to learn, not only from the professional women attending CAMP CEO, but also from their Girl Scout leaders. It is the leaders role in Girl Scouting to give the girls the skills and opportunities to be able to run their meetings, plan their activities, work within their troop budget and organize events for younger scouts. These skills will serve the girls well as they move beyond the world of scouting and into the world of adulthood.

Meanwhile, I have to pack my duffel bag for CAMP CEO and “go green”!

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