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July 18, 2018 — Participants in Hampton Fire & Rescue's Camp Prospect this week are getting a taste of what it takes to be a firefighter. The camp, co-sponsored by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities, gives at-risk young men ages 14-19 a weeklong opportunity during the summer to explore the world of firefighting. Last week, girls in grades 6-12 participated in similar hands-on training at Camp Fury July 8-13.
This year’s 12 Camp Prospect participants are learning different tactical skills this week July 16-21, such as operating a fire hose, opening a door using forcible entry techniques, and learning firetruck operations — and they did it all wearing the heavy protective suits and gear the firefighters are used to. The firefighting events were split between Fire Station No. 2 in Phoebus and Fire Station No. 9 in Briarfield.
"I didn’t know firefighters do all this stuff. I just thought they waited around until a fire happened," said LeBron Clay, 15, of Hampton High School. "This stuff is hard, and it's hot. Wearing this uniform makes it even hotter. But it's pretty cool."
At the end of the day, Prospect campers head back to their temporary home at Fire Station No. 2, where they have dinner and reflect on the daytime activities.
"It takes a little time for them to warm up to each other, but by the second day, they’re laughing and joking with one another as you'd expect boys to do." co-organizer Capt. Cameron Daily said.
Presented by the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast in partnership with Fire & Rescue, Camp Fury is open for girls in grades 6 through 12. This year it was held at Camp Skimino near Williamsburg. The camp offers girls the opportunity to experience firefighting and emergency operations techniques and connect with women currently in the profession. The girls participate in a variety of activities that build leadership, self-confidence and respect through teamwork.
Activities at Camp Prospect are not limited to fire service, either. Campers share team-building and individual achievement exercises. Plus there's always time for some fun, like trips to the bowling alley, Buckroe Fishing Pier and the pool.
"With the seriousness of what they're learning about being a firefighter, I think it's good for them to be able to just act like kids too during this camp," Daily said.
"It’s a chance for them to not only learn how to balance responsibilities but also how to build meaningful friendships and relationships."
Learn more about Camp Prospect and Camp Fury.