High school students explore firefighting careers at local camp

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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - High school students from across the country are in Northeast Wisconsin this week learning the ins and outs of the fire service. The Discover Firefighting Fire Academy Camp, put on by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, introduces campers to the careers available to them.

High school students from 5 states take part in Discover Firefighting camp put on by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (WBAY photo)

Twenty-two students, from five different states, including Wisconsin and as far away as Texas, are gearing up for a week of exploration in fire service.

"My dad is a firefighter in Oshkosh and I kind of wanted to see what he does when he's on the job," says Sedona Wedell from Wautoma.

Sara Calvin from Ohio adds, "It was just a gut feeling that I wanted to be a firefighter."

Whether the high schoolers know the fire service is for them, or they're just curious about what opportunities are available, Discover Firefighting Fire Academy Camp offers a little bit of everything.

Cindy Brun, a program manager from UWO says, "They get an idea of what it is to be a firefighter and live like a firefighter - they get to stay in the dorm overnight. And then we visit four different area fire stations as well as Fox Valley Technical school's fire school."

For more than a dozen years, UW-Oshkosh has hosted the camp.

Monday is the first full day and the campers are spending it at Fond du Lac Fire Rescue's new training tower. After learning how to properly put on turnout gear, the student teams navigated their way through a simulated, smoke filled building, relying on each other and the beginner skills they've learned at camp to find their way around.

According to camper Isaiah Rice from Texas, "It's been good so far. Physical training is the hardest, but it's fun."

But for as much fun as camp is, it's also great recruiting tool for departments not just not locally, but across the country, as they are finding it hard to fill open positions. This camp not only gives students hands-on learning, but it's also an opportunity to network and participating departments to showcase themselves

Brun adds, "They know they need to be good in school, stay out of trouble, those kind of things and prepare them for that next level of education and then the opportunity to meet these people."

And those who complete this basic camp can continue their experience at another UWO Fire Academy advanced skills camp next month.