Pa. Camp Shares Fire Prevention Messages

July 18--SCHUYLKILL HAVEN -- Children had the chance to live out a typical childhood dream of being a firefighter on the last day of the first Embers Training Camp on Thursday at Liberty Fire Company No. 4.

"We are very family-oriented, and there is a large number of kids in the area who are always looking to help out here," Aimee Peel, camp coordinator and Liberty Fire Company firefighter, said. "We don't want to ignore them, they are our future."

There were two age groups of both boys and girls, ages four to nine and 10 to 14.

"The girls have done extremely well. They have even beaten the boys a bunch of times," Peel said.

The age groups did the same activities, but at different levels that were age appropriate.

"They did a fire safety course in a room filled with smoke -- you couldn't even see your hand in front of your face -- and the younger kids had to get out and stay low to the ground with a face mask on," Peel said. "The big kids had a full pack on and had to go through a maze."

Peel said the older children did very well and did training that the adult volunteer firefighters complete.

"They kept asking us for harder activities and kept doing really well," Peel said. "We want to motivate, educate and spark their interest."

Thursday's activity was a hose-n-barrel, where two groups of kids each handled a fire hose and tried to spray a barrel hanging on a rope to the opposite side.

Peel said the kids had to take what they learned from earlier in the week and use it to set up the hoses during the hose-n-barrel. While it was a learning experience, they conducted the activity "purely for fun," Peel said.

"We try to incorporate the things they learned and teamwork into their activities," she said.

"That was fun and delicious," Paris Williams, 11, of Schuylkill Haven, said after the activity.

Williams said she had "a lot of fun" during the two-week camp.

"I liked getting to climb up the ladder," Williams said.

The ladder climb was an activity the children did during the camp. It was 75 feet tall.

"I'm even scared of heights but it was actually fun. I wanted to see if I could do it even though I was scared," Williams said.

Peel said the "smoky maze" the children complete earlier in the camp "gave them self confidence and helped them with communication to the team."

The camp offered other events like scavenger hunts, field trips to other stations and crafts each day.

The camp was two weeks long, July 7 to 17, Monday through Wednesday. Two days each week were from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with lunch and the other two were from 6 to 9 p.m. with a snack.

It was made possible by donations from the volunteers, parents and other fire companies.

"It was a lot of preparation but well worth it," Peel said. "It's important because it is focusing on youth and empowering them."

Peel said she started planning the camp in early June.

"I started a note sheet ... and wrote down ideas whenever I thought of something," Peel said. " ... The list just kept growing. We have so many creative people here that put the ideas into work."

Peel said that the camp was not only fun for the kids but a learning experience.

"Seeing the kids beginning to end was great. They came in as individuals and left as a group," Peel said.

Jennifer Snyder, 46, of Cressona, said both of her daughters were involved in the camp. Danielle, 21, was a volunteer helping with the camp and Connor, 7, was a participant.

"Connor's dad and sister are both firemen so we thought she would enjoy the camp, too," Snyder said.

The Liberty Fire Company is made up of all volunteers.

"The firehouse is like a family, a unique family. It doesn't matter what city or state you run with," Peel said. "We are one big family."

Copyright 2014 - Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

Loading