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Trade Camps Address Aviation Mechanics, Business Start-Ups and More
Laura Lewis, the executive director of I Have a Dream Foundation-Idaho, is excited about the inaugural Trade Camps being offered to local high school students.
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Thursday, June 1, 2023


Blaine County youth will take part in introductory flight lessons, try their hand at simple plumbing and masonry, vie for culinary honors in a “Chopped”-style competition and learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship in four week-long trade camps being held June 19-23.

The camps allow youth to explore careers in aviation, welding, HVAC, automotive careers and other trades.

They were instigated by I Have a Dream Foundation’s Executive Director Laura Lewis. And they’re being organized with the support of College of Southern Idaho’s Workforce Development and Training Program, Friedman Memorial Airport, the Sun Valley Culinary Institute, Sun Valley Economic Development, Blaine County School District and others.

Realtor Katherine Rixon discusses her support for the trade camps.

I Have a Dream Foundation-Idaho started 12 years ago with a dream of providing academic and other support to under-resourced third-graders. They would be granted two years’ of post-secondary education tuition upon high school graduation.

Lewis said that 100 percent of the youth who started with I Have a Dream Foundation-Idaho as third-graders graduated in June 2022. Eighty percent of them are now involved in post-secondary education. But 12 of the 45 said they would have taken trade classes had they been offered.

“We want to support all kids’ paths to success, even if that path involves a trade or the military,” Lewis said. “It’s a national trend that kids don’t want to go to college. Trade schools are popping up everywhere, and our businesses need the support.”

Three of the four trade camps being offered to local high school students filled up in less than a week. And the Entrepreneurial Career Camp, which examines market research, business financials, marketing and creating a sales pitch and a business plan, eventually filled, as well.

Ken Lewis, who founded I Have a Dream Foundation chapters in Sun Valley and Portland, Ore., listens as others talk about the trade camps.

“It will be bigger next year,” Lewis said, of the trade camp program.

I Have a Dream Foundation-Idaho was awarded a $100,000 grant a few months ago to develop the trade school camps. And a local foundation recently offered additional monies in support.

Harry Griffith, executive director of Sun Valley Economic Development, works with the Idaho Workforce Development Council to develop workforce talent that can support local businesses. He told those attending an informational meeting at Jake and Trina Peters’ home that 160 of Wood River High School’s graduating seniors say they are undecided about their next steps or that they are planning to work following graduation.

“So, there’s definitely a need (for vocational training) in the community,” he said.

Of course, as with all things in Sun Valley, there was time for socializing.

Griffith added that he and others hope to recruit retirees and other mentors to work with students as a way to fill vacant spots in the valley’s labor force.

“There’s plenty of work here. The challenge is getting people to deliver quality work to the community,” he added.

Lewis urged attendees to suggest other camps.

“We’re thrilled about the partnerships we’ve already forged,” she said. “We’re always looking or more ways to support more kids.”

Attendees were asked whether they might have expertise they could contribute to putting students on the path to success.


I Have a Dream Foundation, which provides academic and enrichment programming for under-resourced youth, is undergoing a rebranding and will soon have a new name as it breaks away from the national  I Have a Dream Foundation to have more independence in the programs it undertakes.

“We want to become more nimble with our community’s needs,” the organization’s executive director Laura Lewis told members of the Wood River Women’s Foundation this week during a Mix and Mingle at her home.

I Have a Dream Foundation-Idaho just hired a parttime caseworker to work with high school students, she said. And by August it will have enrolled a hundred elementary school students in a program that offers resources and incentives to steer them on the path to high school graduation and post-secondary college or training.


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