Stereotypical ideas about who becomes a nurse were shattered in the eyes of a group of middle school boys this week.
"We met a guy who is a nurse, and I don't think anyone would ever call him girlie," said 13-year-old Christian Ruppe, a rising eighth-grader at Sullivan Middle School. "He was huge."
Ruppe was one of nine middle school students who have spent the week learning about careers that in the eyes of many often are reserved for women.
They've learned about CPR and first aid, nursing, dental hygiene and hospice, all to expose them to things they might not have thought about as potential future jobs.
"What we're trying to do is give the boys a vision for their future that may include nontraditional careers," said Paula Hobbs, who works at the Applied Technology Center and is head of MOVERS, the weeklong summer camp for boys.
MOVERS stands for Men of Vision, Education, Respect and Service. Students from Rock Hill middle schools were recruited to participate.
Last year's camp covered several industries such as early childhood education, culinary arts and health care, but this year's camp focused only on health care.
"There's such a demand for health-care workers, and that will continue to grow as these young people choose careers later on," Hobbs said.
The boys have gone on field trips to learn about different jobs. On Thursday, they visited the York County chapter of the American Red Cross to learn about disaster preparedness. They made "Comfort Kits" for those in need of Red Cross services.
Stephanie White, volunteer youth services director, said many Red Cross volunteers are women, but she thinks by teaching boys about it early on they might be more likely to come back.
"I think it doesn't really matter what gender you are," said 12-year-old Joshua Pascal, a rising Sullivan eighth-grader deciding between becoming a bone surgeon and professional soccer player.
Dylan Croft, a rising seventh-grader at Rawlinson Road Middle, said he learned about radiology in the camp and wants to pursue it.
"It taught that anybody can do any job, even if people say it's for men or for women," he said.
Next week, 24 girls will start a two-week camp called Rosie's Girls, where they will learn carpentry, automotive, electric and welding skills.
Both Rosie's Girls and MOVERS are based at the Applied Technology Center.
"One of the things we wanted to do was to let girls and guys know that these careers are open to anyone," said Sue Sanford, who leads Rosie's. "Sometimes, they don't think of these things, so one of the things we try to do is expose them so they know these things are out there."
With the boys at least, the message appears to have taken hold.
"I think everybody's just nervous about what everybody else thinks," said Wil Herndon, who is 13 and a rising eighth-grader at Saluda Trail Middle. "But if you really want to do something, you should just pursue it."