Girl Scouts excited to spend day with female first responders





Camp Fury exists in ten different Girl Scout councils across the United States





Camp Fury exists in ten different Girl Scout councils across the United States. Ann Einig, Girl Scout Director of STEAM and Community Partnerships, was searching for activities for their scouts to participate in and discovered a video about the camp. “I said we need to do this here. I reached out to Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. Fire and police all jumped on board and wanted to do it,” she said. Courage, confidence and character are core values of the Girls Scouts, and according to Camp Fury co-founder Baker, those values stand in the program they offer to the girls.



BY DEBRA DeCOSTER


Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri trained alongside female firefighters and law enforcement officers to learn firefighting and EMS skills, practice defensive techniques, perform physical fitness drills and develop investigative skills during a one-day camp, Catching Fury. The focus of the camp was to introduce the young girls into the fire and police services.


The camp was held over two Saturdays—the first one in Kansas City, Missouri with fire and police and the second camp was held at the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department. The collaborative effort between fire departments, law enforcement and EMS in Kansas and Missouri gave 8th and 9th grade girls a look into jobs that have been a male dominated career field.


Kansas City, Kansas Fire Chief Michael Callahan attended the event as an observer. He was happy to see the young girls full of energy and enthusiasm about the day. He supports the work that was done to bring the camp to the youth of the city and hopes that it will drive women to look at fire service as a job.


“Females as a whole are under represented in fire service. This is an important way to introduce women into the fire service and police service,” he said.


The Girl’s Scout motto of Courage, Confidence and Character was the theme for the camp. The mission of the event was to show young girls that they can enter into male dominated workforces.


“The women that are here volunteering their time with the girls, they are very confident, they have tackled careers where there are not a lot of women, some of the women here are the first women in their department. We hope to capture that feeling and show the girls that they did this and so can you,” said Battalion Chief Jennifer Johnson. The camp is about exploration into the lives of female police, fire and EMS and girls getting a taste of what it looks like to do those jobs.


Next year, the Kansas and Missouri team of female first responders will be hosting Camp Fury, a week-long camp for girls entering 10th, 11th and 12th grades.


Camp Fury was designed by Fire Chiefs Laura Baker and Cheryl Horvath in Arizona to bring more women into the fire service. Camp Fury exists in ten different Girl Scout councils across the United States. Ann Einig, Girl Scout Director of STEAM and Community Partnerships, was searching for activities for their scouts to participate in and discovered a video about the camp. “I said we need to do this here. I reached out to Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas fire and police and they all jumped on board and wanted to do it,” she said.


Courage, confidence and character are core values of the Girls Scouts, and according to Camp Fury co-founder Baker, those values stand in the program they offer to the girls.


“The courage to do things you’ve never done, the confidence to actually believe in yourself and the character is just to be our own authentic selves and who we are as women,” she said.


Female fire fighters and police officers spent the day in Kansas City, Kansas working with the Girl Scouts as they learned CPR, how to carry a fire hose, how to use self-defense, and how to conduct yourself during a traffic stop were just a few of the activities that filled their day.


When Captain Marisa Barnes, Kansas City, Missouri Police department was a young girl women didn’t have law enforcement careers. She wished that a camp like Camp Fury and Catching Fury had existed when she was a child.


“If the young ladies haven’t been exposed to these types of activities or our careers, they don’t think they can do stuff like this. But you have all these strong ladies coming around showing them how to do it and encouraging them. Seeing them go from I can’t do this to us talking them through it, when they are successful you can see the changes in them, even when they walk, they hold their head high, shoulders back, it shows they are gaining confidence,” said Captain Barnes.


Battalion Chief Jennifer Johnson, Kansas City, Kansas Fire department, was excited to work with the Girl Scouts organization and other women representing Kansas and Missouri in the field of emergency services to bring the camp Catching Fury to the city.


The team leaders for Catching Fury began meeting monthly and as the camp neared, they met weekly to ensure that they had their activities lined up, lunch and drinks provided for the day, and they were thrilled that local organizations help to sponsor the young girls to attend the camp.


“We had a nice mix of girls from our community, from Kansas City, Missouri, from Johnson County, Lawrence and other areas in Missouri. The Girls Scouts organization was fantastic in helping us by handling the registration and getting the word out about the camp,” said Battalion Chief Johnson.


This is the first Catching Fury camp that was done in partnership by two states. Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri fire and police and Wyandotte County Sheriff office jumped at the opportunity to work with the Girl Scouts and empower the young girls with the knowledge that their future can be anything they want it to be.


“One of our goals as we put this on in Wyandotte County was to ensure that girls in our community that wanted to participate could do that. Scholarships were set up for every girl in Wyandotte County that wanted to come to camp and that was possible by our sponsors,” said Johnson.


Sergeant Tiffany Davis, Kansas City, Missouri police officer was happy that she was asked to volunteer her time at the camp.


“I can show girls that they can go into whatever field they want, don’t let anyone say, I don’t know because you are a female,” said Davis.


She hopes that when the girls left camp, they went back to their neighborhoods, their families and friends and said, “We met these really cool fire fighters and police officers at Catching Fury camp. They are not bad, they are not out there to take us to jail, they are out there to help us.” Davis and Barnes both hope that the girls at the camp will see them as mentors and someone they can call if they have questions.


“Seeing the looks on these young girls faces when they come, seeing them change throughout the day as they gain confidence, at the end of the day, the bonds we have formed are special,” said Barnes.


Natalie Martinez, 9th grade, is looking at law enforcement as a career.


“I want to be a police officer, so I am really excited about getting to interact with the police officers and the activities they have planned for us,” she said.


Martinez was an eager participant in the fire drills and enjoyed learning how to do a proper squat and to use her legs like a trunk to move a large tire and heavy objects. As she and her teammates did a relay race carrying fire hoses, she said, “carrying a fire hose was hard, it did make my arms tired.”


Samantha Brack is a volunteer firefighter at the Edwardsville Fire department. She has been on the job there for the past four months while she is attending the Johnson County Community College Fire Academy. When she graduates in December 2019 and has her EMT certification, she will be an employee.


“While I have been attending college, the Fire Chief in Edwardsville reached out to me about working there. The people are great, and they are supportive and like to help you learn. I feel very comfortable there,” said Brack.


She finds the job exciting and she enjoys helping people.


“I have been on a lot of EMS calls, no fire calls yet,” she said.


As she worked with the group of girls at Catching Fury, she was happy to see the girls learning and growing in confidence.


“We can see them feeling confident about their selves, they see they do have strength and showing them they are strong is empowering to them. This day is about love being a girl, lifting other girls up and being supportive,” said Brack.


Ashley Rodriquez, 9th grade, favorite activity at the camp was the fire hose relay and a yoga activity.


“This has been pretty fun. I was excited to come here,” she said.


Planning and working the one-day camp, Catching Fury, also brought together the female first responders in Kansas and Missouri. They formed friendships and bonds which they hoped to continue to keep in touch after the camp ended.


“It has been great getting to know the other first responders here in Wyandotte County but also on the Missouri side. We know that we are out there, we just haven’t interacted before,” said Battalion Chief Johnson.


When Battalion Chief Johnson joined the Kansas City, Kansas fire department in October of 1997, there were not many women on the job. She was 30 years old when she came on the department. It was a job that she had not considered for herself until a relative encouraged her to look at the job.


“I was hired here before I completed my paramedic training, so I was hired as an EMT. I started out as a regular back end firefighter. When I was new on the job and being a female firefighter, I didn’t understand what a big deal it was,” she said.


She gives a lot of credit to her male co-workers who worked with her to learn the job and let her show that she could do the job.


“I have to give a lot of credit to the men who I worked with early in my career. It wasn’t a big deal to them either, or at least, they never let on that it was,” she said.


Over the years, Johnson moved from the back end of the fire truck to be a driver, then she served as Captain and for a period of time she was a fire investigator.


“I really enjoyed that job a lot. It was really interesting and very cool work. It is a puzzle, putting together all those pieces of what started the fire, who started the fire and why. It is a different look at the work that I had done over the years.”


Ask any first responder what they like about their job and they all say they want to take care of people and their community. “If you like to take care of people, this remains the right place. As I worked this job, I realized it was important to me to take care of my community as well,” said Johnson.


The Catching Fury team leaders are planning to bring Camp Fury into the community next year. Camp Fury will be for young girls in 10th, 11th and 12th grade and will be a week-long camp. The Girl Scouts will stay at Camp Prairie Schooner in Lees Summit, Missouri and then will have a designated day with each law enforcement agency in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas and Missouri fire departments.