A unique camp is inspiring high school girls to become the next generation of police officers and firefighters. It's called Aspire Academy and it's organized by Mesa first responders. The girls learn everything from how to rappel down buildings to investigating crime scenes.
For the second year, 30 girls are selected through an application process and then partnered with mentors to guide them in pursuing a non-traditional career paths.
Gabriella Nelson Thain is one of them.
“It wasn’t something that I thought was an option until I heard about it,” she said. “I think that it is now something that I would be interested in.”
At the Mesa Public Safety training facility, Gabriella got the chance to rappel off a seven-story tower and take part in search and rescue activities.
“It was dark and wet, but I mean it was great,” said Nelson Thain. “It was team work and communication skills, which everyone needs.”
Through all of this, she’s taking away practical skills.
“Confidence is a huge thing as well as learning when to take charge,” said Nelson Thain.
“We put them through a multitude of experiences that they might face as a public safety firefighter or police officer,” said engineer and paramedic Michelle Denton.
She says this camp teaches girls the value of team work. It also gives them a great work ethic.
In addition to pulling hose lines, confined space drills and climbing ladders, every camper gets to experience video based police scenarios.
“Put them in leadership types of positions,” said Denton.
Who knows? It might even plant a seed for a future career.
“We really coach them,” she said. “They have a very supportive staff that have overcome their own fears.”
For anyone considering doing this next year? Gabriella highly recommends it.
“Even if you are scared of things, that’s a huge push to do it,” she said. “Like rappelling off of buildings or talking about blood squirting out of someone ... then yeah, it’s something that you should consider just to get over it or to experience.”
Mesa fire and police have teamed with the Girl Scouts to reach out to more young girls who might be interested in the camp.