Finding Her Voice and Blazing Her Path

Spotlight on Camp Fury Participant and Future Firefighter, Autumn H.

Most of us can’t imagine running into a burning building, but for Girl Scout Senior Autumn H., that is exactly what she dreams of doing for her future career.

Autumn is a sophomore and a part of the Olathe West Public Safety Academy, a program where students gain the knowledge and skills necessary for post-secondary experiences in the professions of fire rescue or law enforcement through a partnership between Olathe West High School, Olathe Public Safety Department and Johnson County Community College. Autumn enrolled in the program during her freshman year of high school. After a semester learning about the various public safety fields, she chose to continue to the program on the fire rescue tract.

When Autumn learned about the opportunity to further her knowledge and gain experience from female professionals in the field through a Girl Scout Destination, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought it would be a great step in the direction of what I want to do, gain experience outside of Olathe, KS and learn how other city’s public safety departments function,” Autumn said!

In May, Autumn packed her bags and headed to Camp Fury in Tucson, AZ, a high adventure immersion experience for Girl Scouts, led by elite women of the fire and police services. Over the course of a week, Autumn and 40 other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world participated in real-life drills and practice scenarios with female professionals in fire rescue, EMT, EMS, police, border patrol, FBI and SWAT fields.

Girls stayed at a local Girl Scout camp outside of Tucson and would bus to the Tucson Public Safety Academy by 7am each morning. Their days started out with physical training (PT) then they would break off and do field specific training each day. Fire rescue happened in the middle of the week, and it was (no surprise), her favorite.

“I’m kind of biased to the fire side! Day three or four we started off the morning with a controlled car fire instead of PT. We got to gear up and put out a car fire, which was kind of cool! We also did hose relays, climbed to the top of the aerial ladder on top of engine and did a blind search and rescue to find a person in the house that is filled with smoke,” Autumn explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only about 4 percent of firefighters are women nationwide. That figure has risen to about 14 percent in police work and the military.

“I was worried about sexism in the field in the general; seeing that these women can do it made me realize that I can do it too. They were so encouraging. They wanted us to do our best and I feel like that really helped me,” she said.

When she returned from her Camp Fury Girl Scout Destination Autumn joined Fire Explorers, another program in her community that will enhance and compliment the experiences she’s having in her Public Safety curriculum at school. Each week in the Fire Explorers program – a male dominated program, she draws on her experiences at Camp Fury this past summer.

“Sometimes it can be a little stressful; the guys will try to step in while you’re doing something even though you have it. Other times they trust you,” she explained. “You have to declare your presence and try and fit in as much as possible but let them know you’re still a woman. You can’t have fear and you can’t second guess yourself. If they see you second guessing yourself, they’ll second guess you.”

Autumn also returned from Camp Fury feeling confident about her future career plans.

“After school ended, I was still hesitant about going down this [fire rescue] career path. I knew I would finish the program, but I didn’t know if I wanted to run into burning building and save people on the worst day of their lives,” Autumn explained. “Camp Fury convinced me.”

When Autumn graduates from Olathe West 2021, she’ll do so with Fire 1 & Fire 2 credentials. “I’ll be eligible to be hired onto a department right out of high school.”

Thanks to Camp Fury, Autumn has a network of Girl Scout sisters all around the world who are also passionate about a career in the public safety sector and working to close the gender gap in their desired field.

“I have a friend in Poland! Another friend from Milwaukee started the process of joining the Air Force the day after she flew back home and a friend from Tennessee is now a volunteer firefighter!”

As for her advice if you’re thinking about a Camp Fury experience?

“Do it! Absolutely do it. I definitely found my voice there [at Camp Fury]. It was a great experience and over that week you bond so much with other girls it’s unbelievable.”

Camp Fury – Tucson, AZ, 2018

We are excited to announce that Camp Fury is coming to Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri through a partnership with the Kansas City MO Fire Department, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department, Kansas City MO Police Department and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s office! Catching Fury will take place in the summer of 2019 and will be for Girl Scouts entering 8th and 9th grades. Then in 2020, Camp Fury will take place and be open to Girl Scouts entering 10th – 12th grade!

If you can’t wait or want to fill your time while you do, you can apply for the Girl Scout Destinations program that Autumn did in Tucson, AZ. The first round of applications is due Dec. 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the program is full.

 

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