By Ronda Scholting
For four days and three nights, 16 young women will experience what it takes to be a firefighter. They will put out fires, rescue “victims” and learn how to work as a team. Camp Ember is a collaborative effort and partnership between West Metro Fire Rescue, Arvada Fire Rescue and Red Rocks Community College, designed to encourage young women to explore careers in the fire service.
“Not many girls grow up knowing about the opportunities in the fire service,” said Lakota Beckhorn, West Metro firefighter/paramedic, and Camp Ember Assistant Director. “Our hope is that this program will open their eyes, their hearts and their minds to what’s possible and at the same time, build self-confidence.”
Nationally, just 7 percent of 1.1 million firefighters are women. Fire agencies know the value of bringing in people of different genders, backgrounds and perspectives, helping them to better serve their communities.
“We are stronger as a fire district when we represent the people in our district,” said West Metro Fire Chief Don Lombardi. “Camp Ember opens the door of possibilities to young women, and teaches them what we value – teamwork, leadership and service.”
The 2019 camp will be held May 30 through June 2, and participants will spend the days learning firefighting skills at the West Metro and Arvada training centers. At night they’ll sleep in the dorms at Colorado Christian University. The camp is free and campers are chosen based on essay responses in the application. Girls ages 16 to 18 are eligible and the deadline to apply is March 21 at: www.campember.net.
This will be the third year for the camp, and during the four days at the training centers, the girls participate in fire hydrant operations, fire hose handling, search and rescue, technical rescue and more.
The goal of Camp Ember is show the girls what it takes to be a firefighter, but just as important, showing them that there are women who make firefighting a career. The camp instructors and mentors are female firefighters from metro area agencies.
“You could say we’re trying to build the future of the fire service,” said Beckhorn. “We want them to leave camp knowing that they can overcome challenges and be successful because they’ve built that confidence in themselves.”
Ronda Scholting is the West Metro Fire Rescue Communications/Media Relations Specialist.