On the weekend of June 22 through the 24 Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) hosted the 4th annual Portland Metro Fire Camp for young women. This years camp was the largest to date with 39 campers, most traveling from somewhere within the state of Oregon or Washington, but one camper coming all the way from California for the once in a life experience. There were a total of 31 camp counselors, 12 of them from other departments withinWashington andOregon with the farthest hailing fromHood RiverOregon. The support system and sponsors that enable the camp to be of no cost for the participants were Portland Firefighters local 43, Clackamas Fire District #1, Gresham Firefighters local 1062, Portland Fire Chiefs Association, Round Table Pizza, Costco, and Jim & Patty’s Coffee.
This three day camp exposes the 16 to 19 year old ladies about the career of firefighting, but also empowers them and shows them what they are truly capable of. On day one the campers get issued a set of turnouts and are placed into engine company’s that they will be working with as a team for the duration of the camp. Some of the tasks that the campers are asked to do both as a team and individually are taking a hydrant, extending a hose line, chopping a hole in a roof, search and rescue, low angle rope rescue, emergency medical services, and many more. These tasks force the campers to work together as a team and problem solve to come up with the best possible solutions to many different problems they are faced with, much like what professional firefighters do on a daily basis. When asked about their experience at camp one camper stated “The camp opened my eyes and showed me that I have a lot of work ahead of me, and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it”. Another camper stated “I enjoyed going into this camp unsure of my abilities, but able to push myself, and coming out of this camp proud of my accomplishments”.
Although not every one of these young women may go on to a career in firefighting all of the counselors and individuals involved know that they helped make a difference in the lives of these young women. Every person who witnessed the transformation of these campers within a short three days span have faith that they can draw on their experience at camp to be successful at whatever they do in life. With the continued support from within PF&R and departments all across the Northwest the Portland Metro Fire Camp will be continuing to move forward for years to come hopefully inspiring many future firefighters.