CAMP PAUMALU, Hawaii --
Nestled on top of a mountain surrounded by plush vegetation and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, lies Camp Paumalu, a 125-acre Girl Scout camp. This was the work site for over 50 service members from the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps Reserve and Air National Guard who participated in an Innovative Readiness Training project May 18 through June 1.
“The main focus [of IRT projects] is readiness training for our CE [Civil Engineer] personnel,” said 1st Lt. Emelia Brooks, 138th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard and mission officer-in-charge of the project.
“We get to use real world building techniques with general contractors and licensed electricians and plumbers. We also get to use our skills to build something that’s going to be useful for the community.”
The mission for the two-week period was to provide a concrete slab for a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lodge facility, clear and grade the surrounding area, and begin building walls, if time allowed. The Department of Defense men and women wasted no time and worked long hours to complete their portion within the allotted timeframe. The three major phases to the overall project include the construction of the STEM facility, living quarters, and road accessibility to the camp.
The Girl Scouts of Hawaii and DoD anticipate the project to be complete within two years.
“This STEM building represents enabling the development of more technologically advanced individuals at an earlier age,” said Capt. Jason Barron, 944th Civil Engineer Squadron operations commander and Air Force Reservist.
This was Barron’s third IRT project. He and his Airmen from the 944th Fighter Wing recently returned from a deployment to Southwest Asia and represented the majority of the work force during this portion of the project.
“We were able to bring the same team [who deployed] here and hit the ground running,” said Barron. “Typically, you have a crawl, walk, run stage. We were able to look at the prints, understand what was involved and needed, and meet a very critical timeline.”
The DoD participants were given an opportunity to learn something new within their career field during the project and integrate with the other services. Concrete, dirt work, carpentry, forming, electrical, and plumbing specialists were there to accomplish the mission and according to Barron, the training requirements were met.
“We are hitting almost every single aspect of training from a CE standpoint on this portion of the project,” said Barron. “In addition, we are marrying up with the Marines who bring their own skill set in trying to provide ‘combat ready forces’ from an integration standpoint.”
Having a leadership role in this specific project has a special meaning for Brooks and she hopes to send out a message to young women everywhere.
“Representation is everything,” explained Brooks. “As a female, if you don’t see someone that looks like you doing a job, you don’t really aspire to that job.”
Brooks is an environmental engineer in her civilian career and expressed how she works in a very, male-dominated world in both careers and often she is one of the only females at the table.
“I am a lifetime Girl Scout member and I have two daughters that are Girl Scouts,” said Brooks. “My kids think it’s been ‘super cool’ to have mom working on this STEM center of excellence for the Girl Scouts.”
The IRT program is a DoD military training opportunity, exclusive to the United States and its territories, that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. Simultaneously, IRT provides key services (health care, construction, transportation, and cybersecurity) with lasting benefits for our American communities. For more information on the IRT program please visit https://irt.defense.gov/.