Mount Desert Fire Chief Mike Bender helps campers prepare to operate the fire hose in full bunker gear as part of the 2014 Jr. Firefighting Academy. PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADIA LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

Fire Academy aims to inspire



MOUNT DESERT — The Acadia Leadership Institute (ALI) will bring back the Jr. Firefighting Academy at Camp Beech Cliff (CBC) for its third year from July 18-22.

Teens in grades eight to 11 will have the opportunity to learn the trade firsthand during the academy, where the experiential curriculum will immerse participants in the fundamental skills of firefighting. Openings are still available. Both male and female teens are encouraged to apply. Scholarships are available for Hancock County youths.

Participants will operate a fire hose at the Jr. Firefighting Academy, along with much more. With fun, safety and legitimacy at its core, the camp will take teens behind the scenes of firefighting to spend a week in the shoes – or “bunker gear” – of a true firefighter.

Mount Desert Fire Chief Mike Bender helps a camper learn how to use and wear bunker gear as part of the 2014 Jr. Firefighting Academy. PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADIA LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

Mount Desert Fire Chief Mike Bender helps a camper learn how to use and wear bunker gear as part of the 2014 Jr. Firefighting Academy. PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADIA LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

The academy will be led by members of the Mount Desert, Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Tremont fire departments. Campers will learn to raise the tall foreground ladder, communicate with one another over radios and practice real search and rescue techniques.

Former camper Dawson Burnett said, “The camp was a lot of fun. My favorite part was using equipment like the ‘jaws of life’ and the fireproof gear and helmets. I became a junior firefighter to learn even more, and the camp showed how it takes hardworking, dedicated people in order for it to be successful.”

The camp also will teach basic emergency medical care, a vital skill that campers may use for years to come. Participants also will help run a fire drill on the campus, working alongside local firefighters to carry out the real procedures and skills they have learned.

The camp could change in the event of a real fire on Mount Desert Island, when firefighters would leave camp immediately to address the emergency and campers would stay at CBC to enjoy traditional CBC activities.

In connection with CBC’s partnership with Acadia, a local park ranger will teach campers the importance of wild land firefighting in preserving our natural landscape.

“[The camp] helps out our local fire departments by exposing our youth to the fire service and hopefully inspiring some to continue on by volunteering as junior or on-call firefighters,” said Mike Bender, Mount Desert fire chief. “Many of our present volunteer and full-time firefighters started their career as junior firefighters.”

ALI is proud to encourage teens to protect their local communities and the natural land that distinguishes Acadia National Park and beyond.

Acadia Leadership Institute is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit summer camp and year-round outdoor education and recreation center located on Echo Lake on Mount Desert Island. Visit www.acadialeadershipinstitute.org or call 244-0365.

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