Children learn to be ‘heroes’

Photo by Dave Gorgon

Photo by Dave Gorgon

One Hero Camper waits for his turn to take a ride in the fire truck bucket as Lt. Phil Mooney of the Taylor Fire Department takes three other campers a ride into the sky in Heritage Park.

TAYLOR – Parents’ top priorities for their children this summer are to “Keep them active, keep them learning and keep them safe.”

The city’s Fire and Police departments provide a way for resident parents to meet all of those goals: Hero Camp. The day camp for children ages 7 to 13 meets for a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at Fire Station No. 2, 25303 Ecorse Road. It is designed to encourage the learning of safe behaviors and choices through an active curriculum designed by city fire and police educators.

“We keep them active throughout the entire camp,” Capt. Jesse Kriebel said. “The 16 kids from the first session had a great time, made friends, got plenty of exercise and not only learned how to be safe, but were encouraged to lead others to be safe as well.”

Kriebel – better known to the children as “Firefighter Jesse” – said, “We only have two rules at Hero Camp: Be Safe –
Be Nice. The lessons we learn really drive home this simple message.”

Lessons from the first session, held June 28 through July 2, included: Recycling with Arts & Scraps; Fire Basics & History with “Fireman” Larry Cooper; Home Fire Hazard Inspections; Home Fire Escape Planning with the Smoke House; Disaster Preparedness; First Aid and Fire Extinguishers.

Children also were able to get a feel for what it’s like to be a firefighter with Lt. Phil Mooney’s Junior Firefighter Challenge, an obstacle course where they can demonstrate some of the skills they’ve learned, such as ropes and knots, hose rolls, ladder rail balance walk and spraying a fire hose.

The camp utilizes Fire Station 2’s large training room and outside areas for four of the five days during the week. The Wednesday of each session is Field Trip Day, where a Department of Golf, Parks and Recreation bus takes the hero campers to the Taylor Sportsplex in the morning and Heritage Park in the afternoon.

“The Field Trip Day was the idea of Dennis McDermott, (parks and recreation deputy director),” Kriebel said. “It is the perfect way to break up our week and allows us to do things we just couldn’t do at the Fire Station. Parks and Rec has been a huge help in making this project happen for Taylor.”

In a TSX arena, campers enjoyed a donated lesson in courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit with the Heritage Martial Arts Center black belt instructors in a game of Paperball Wars.

Fire Capt. Herb Proctor, who assisted throughout the camp and is a lead instructor with the Heritage Martial Arts Center, said, “Paperball Wars is a lot like dodgeball. Children get a chance to prove their integrity during the game: If they get hit with a paper ball, they take themselves out. They also get the opportunity to use teamwork, strategy and problem solving, all while staying active.”

At the TSX, campers also learned a lesson in Fire Safety in Public Buildings. Later at Heritage Park, the young heroes learned about Fireworks Safety, Campfire Safety and got to ride around the park in a real fire truck.

Thursday of each session is Police Day. Officer Jeff Hansen and Police Department K-9 Units worked with campers during the day on Drug & Violence Prevention, Stranger Danger, Internet Safety and Bike Safety.

“This is a great program for our city,” Hansen said, “We need to reach as many kids as we can. The way this program is set up is perfect to teach and have fun with the kids.”

The Hero Camp program is funded in part by Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention & Safety Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Two more Hero Camp sessions are available to city residents: July 19 through 23 and Aug. 9 through 13. The cost is $35 and includes lunch and snacks each day, a bicycle helmet, a smoke alarm, a T-shirt and much more. Registration takes place at the Department of Golf, Parks and Recreation, 22805 Goddard Road. Space is limited.

For more information on the program contact the Department of Fire & EMS at (734) 374-1355. Golf, Parks and Recreation can be reached at (734) 374-3906.