Girls Build, based in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering girls aged 8 to 14 through hands-on building and construction activities. Founded to address gender disparities in the trades, Girls Build offers workshops, camps, and after-school programs where participants learn skills such as carpentry, welding, and electrical work from female instructors.

We discovered Katie Hughes, founder of Girls Build at a TedX talk she gave in Portland in 2018.  Suffice to say, her message that evening spoke to us. The forest products industry, like many manufacturing sectors, suffers from a lack of gender diversity.  And yet, companies like Hampton are in need of skilled workers and careers in manufacturing are often the best paying opportunities in rural communities. Local wood manufacturing offers ample opportunities for on-the-job training and advancement. If girls and women don’t feel like careers in the trades or manufacturing are accessible, whether through lack of skill or exposure, that’s a lost opportunity for not only women, but families and entire communities.

Camper working with measuring tape at Hampton's Girls Build Camp in Warrenton, OR

In 2018, when we first met Hughes, Girls Build was offering summer camps in Portland and Hughes' hometown of Grants Pass, OR.  After the talk, my colleague and I introduced ourselves and asked if Girls Build would consider launching a summer camp in one of our mill communities. Her eyes lit up. Katie and her team leapt into action and a few months later, we had a sold-out camp in Warrenton, OR. The next year we added a camp in Tillamook, OR and in 2022, Willamina, OR. Each camp has space for 40 girls and each year, these camps sell out.  To ensure no girl is left out due to an inability to pay, Hampton also supports Girls Build scholarships.  Many girls come back year after year, building news skills and gaining confidence.

We can’t say enough good things about Katie and her team at Girls Build. If you’d like to learn more, support Girls Build, or find an opportunity child in your life, please visit

Girls Build camper using a sander in Warrenton, ORCreCreCCrec