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'Women are not offered this anywhere else': Woman starts Georgia construction camp for girls

Camp MAGIC is a weeklong program aimed at introducing construction to young women.

MACON, Ga. — Only about 1 in 9 people working for construction companies are women, and most of them work in office roles. That's according to the construction site Level Set, but one Macon woman wants to change that with "Camp MAGIC."

Renee Conner owns her own construction business, Precision Tapping Inc., but she realized that's kind of rare in her industry.

"Women are not offered this anywhere else," Conner said.

She started MAGIC 15 years ago. MAGIC stands for "Mentoring a Girl in Construction." It's a weeklong program aimed at introducing construction to young women.

"They do not get the opportunities that guys get in tech schools with shop," Conner said. 

Zyla Williams says the camp opened her eyes to the world of construction.

 "It's pretty exciting because if I do decide to join the field, it would be pretty rare for someone like me to actually do it," Williams said. 

Now, Conner is getting some help realizing her vision.    

MAGIC teamed up with Central Georgia Technical College and Bibb County Schools to introduce the camp to students. Each day, the girls get to learn something different from safety to electrical, to welding, to construction.

 "Construction is my favorite because during that day, we got to build birdhouses, which is my first time building something, and I could use screws and hammers," Williams said. 

Lynette Smith works as a volunteer for MAGIC. She's retired now, but worked as a heavy equipment operator for more than 20 years.

"It teaches young women that there are more opportunities available out there than just the traditional women roles," Smith said. 

Conner says she'd like to see the number of women in the construction industry grow. Her camp is working on that, and Camp MAGIC has helped hundreds of young women get jobs in the field already.

"We have students that have graduated from Kennesaw State with electrical engineer degrees. We have welders in the field already," Conner said. 

Renee Conner says each summer, they do the camp in four different counties in the state of Georgia -- Gwinnett, Bibb, Bartow, and Burke. Next year, they plan to expand to Florida.

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