Camp 911 lets local kids put out fires while teaching safety and emergency services
Local kids love shooting fire extinguishers at controlled flames in the Edwards Field House parking lot, and they get to do it once or twice a year at Camp 911.
Camp 911 offers kids aged 9-11 the opportunity to experience first-hand what emergency personnel do in their everyday jobs. They get to shoot fire extinguishers like firefighters, strap their friends to backboards like paramedics and use highway patrol crash simulation tool to feel the literal impact driving at certain speeds would have. All the activities at the day camp aim to educate kids about safety and provide exposure to emergency services.
“Maybe they’re riding their bike home and get in an accident, and then the emergency services show up and it’s less initimdating for them because they’re like, ‘oh, I’ve seen this,’” said Scott Robinson, the marketing and communications manager at Mountain Recrection.
The camp, which is run in collaboration between the Eagle County Emergency Services and Mountain Rec, is entering its 18th year.
“The sheriff and the two fire districts and the paramedics service have been running this forever,” said Robinson.
Part of the excitement for kids is that all the activities just look like fun. The highway patrol crash simulator looks like an amusement park ride. Kids can pretend to be heroes and save the day by learning things like CPR and water rescue.
Some of the other activities in Camp 911 include helmet safety – so when kids go biking, skateboarding or scootering, they won’t hurt their head if they fall – from Vail Health, which makes an appearance each year. There will also be a SWAT command center vehicle for kids to explore.
The important message behind the fun activities still stands, though. Primarily, Camp 911 hopes to expose kids to what emergency services does, and how kids can be safe as they have fun both now and when they get older.
“I’m sure a lot of the emergency service people are also hoping that this will inspire kids to want to be a paramedic or a fireman,” Robinson said. “It’s about educating the kids on ‘it’s not just a big flashy red truck,’ it’s about teaching them everything that’s going into it.”
Amber Mulson-Barrett, community affairs officer and evidence custodian at the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, said that several previous campers have gone onto jobs in the Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District and the Gypsum Fire Protection District.
Mulson-Barrett also works with teenaged Camp 911 alumni who want to come back and help lead the groups of 9-11-year-old campers. They’ve told her how much they loved the camp and wanted to give back. The team leader program is now entering its third year.
“The younger kids aged 9-11 that are taking the camp, they really look up to the older teens,” Mulson-Barrett said. “Some of the adult volunteers think the kids listen better to the teenagers sometimes.”
The biggest takeaway for the kids definitely varies from one to the next, but Robinson said organizers mainly hope that campers leave with an awareness of how to be safe, the knowledge of how to handle emergency situation and a familiarity with what responders will do when they arrive on the scene.
“But I gotta think the coolest thing is being able to put out fires with a fire extinguisher,” he said.
The partnership between Mountain Rec and the emergency services departments that work on the camp creates a natural collaboration that’s easy for parents to navigate. Parents are likely already taking their kids to sports, swimming, summer camps and other events at Mountain Rec locations and know the company and the area well.
“Once summer starts, we have parents starting to call us saying, ‘hey, when’s Camp 911 this year?’” Robinson said.
The camp, which runs July 10 in Edwards and next week, Wednesday, July 17 in Gypsym, costs $10 per child. Pre-registration through Mountain Recreation is required, so interested parties should head to http://www.mountainrec.org to register online. The day starts at 8 a.m. and pickup is at 4:15 p.m. sharp. Parents must pack a bag lunch for their camper(s). Robinson said there are about 30 spots left for each session.
“Honestly, all of it is really cool,” Robinson said. “It’s not just a fire day, it’s not just a paramedic day, it gets everybody together and exposes kids to it all.”