Haley Summers is the daughter of a firefighter, but even she took away a potentially lifesaving lesson from "Fire Camp" on Friday.
At Golfland-Sunsplash in Roseville, the 13-year-old from Auburn was taught how to use a "throw bag" to rescue someone from drowning in a river.
"You have to throw it in front of them and pull it in very quickly," she said. "This is the most important thing I learned today."
Haley and about 80 other kids ages 11 to 13 were participating in this year's Fire Camp, a 15-year-old program sponsored by the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.
"You never know when you'll have to use these skills," Haley said of what she has learned during the four-day camp.
Although it's billed as a Fire Camp, the program is much more than that. To Capt. John Graf, a camp counselor, it's about "instilling good decision-making that fosters a safer lifestyle." The program covers a wide variety of safety skills, from putting out a fire to river rescues.
The all-volunteer counselor team comprises Metro firefighters. Though the program is funded through donations and registration fees, it does rely on resources borrowed from the fire district, such as life jackets.
Friday's activity was water safety. Assistant Fire Chief Scott Cockrum said there have been three drownings this year in the American River, which he called the "most unsafe," primarily because of its rapids. Cockrum reports there were about 30 drownings last year in the river, a figure he would like to see reduced.
"These are life lessons these young kids are learning," he said.
It is through the generosity of firefighters including Haley's father, Kevin Summers, that Fire Camp is possible each year. The firefighters use their vacation time for the program, Cockrum said.
This is Graf's second year as a camp counselor; he has served 20 years with the fire district. Graf said what inspired him to join Fire Camp was the need to "educate young citizens in all aspects of fire service."
But Graf acknowledges it's sometimes difficult working with these "young citizens."
"These kids are so full of energy," he said. "It's hard keeping them focused all the time."
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