By Alyssa Schnugg
Michael and Elliott Chaney haven’t thought much about whether they want to be firefighters when they grow up, but the 7-and-10-year-olds now have a better understanding of what that job entails.
The two Oxford boys “graduated” Thursday from the Oxford Fire Department Fire Academy for Kids – a four-day camp that shows children the ins-and-outs of firefighting and fire safety.
Michael said his favorite part of the camp was watching a video called, “Hug a Tree,” that teaches children what to do if they find themselves lost in the woods.
“It’s about a boy who gets lost and had to do good things so they can find him,” Michael said.
Elliott enjoyed watching a donated car by Shivers Towing torn apart by the Jaws of Life equipment.
“We got to take the doors off the car and pretend someone was in there, and we had to get them out,” Elliott said.
It is the 10th year for the camp started by William Stewart, now the Chief Fire Inspector for OFD. This year’s camp was organized for the first time by assistant fire inspector and public educator Josh Ferguson.
Michael and Elliott’s mom, Diala Chaney, said she heard good things about the camp and decided to send her sons this summer.
“I thought it would be interesting and they could learn some new things they haven’t learned in the past,” she said. “They had a great time.”
On Thursday, 33 campers received a certificate and trophy for graduation. A “Wet and Wild Day” where campers play on a bounce house and large water slide was scheduled, however rain and thunderstorms canceled the event.
Ferguson said the campers will get their Water Day that’s been rescheduled for July 11.
Ferguson said the camp packs a lot into its four days, teaching campers about the importance of having fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in the home; fire safety; forming an exit plan for their homes in case of an emergency; how to stop, drop and roll, and how to call 911 if there is a fire. Campers also learn about bike helmet safety and are visited by other fire responders, like paramedics and police officers.
The camp is free but space is limited to about 30 children. Ferguson said he hopes to have two camps next summer to allow more children to attend.
“We try to teach them early about fire safety and plant little seeds while they’re young,” Ferguson said. “And maybe some will decide they want to become firefighters when they’re older.”