A free summer camp open to girls ages 14 to 17 aims to encourage more young women to consider fire service as a viable career option.
Camp L.I.T. (Leadership, Integrity, Trailblazer) runs July 17 to 21 and is offered by the Harrisonburg Fire Department and Rockingham County Fire and Rescue.
Ladies attending the camp will receive insight into life as a first responder – pairing participants with women leaders in fire and rescue in their own community.
Only seven percent of firefighters in the United States are women, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
The five-day camp aims to change that statistic with activities such as physical training, fire simulations and hands-on experience. Instructors cover a variety of topics throughout the week such as use of fire gear, fire prevention, CPR certification, search and rescue, mental health awareness, fire behavior and more.
“It is an opportunity for young women to focus on empowerment, team building, communication and self-confidence, which will help them succeed in all aspects of their lives,” said HFD Lieutenant Erin Stehle.
Camp L.I.T. has had more than 10 former campers pursue more fire/rescue certifications and training, serve as volunteers or pursue a career in a first responder-related field.
In addition to fire/rescue, participants will be introduced to other careers in emergency services, including flight nurses and paramedics, emergency communicators and police officers.
“Making sure that women are represented more in the fire service, and at all levels of public safety, is vital to ensuring we represent those in the community that we serve, that we are mindful of the needs and perspectives of all individuals, and that our organization and others like ours have the possibility of growing and improving thanks to the involvement of many different people with different life experiences,” said HFD Chief Matthew Tobia. “Camp L.I.T. is just one of the ways we are looking to accomplish this, and I’m so proud of the efforts not only of those who make this event happen every year, but the young women who come and grow their leadership skills with us. I’m excited to see where they go from here and what insight they bring to the fire service in the future.”
Applications are due by June 1 and can be found online at www.harrisonburgva.gov/fire