Fishers Fire Department Hosts Successful Spring Break Camp

While many families make the annual trek to warmer weather for spring break, many simply can’t afford a week-long trip. Fishers Fire Department (FFD) Chief Steve Orusa was thinking of those kids, and what they would have to talk about with their peers after spring break, when he came up with an idea.

“Being born and raised in Chicago, I had a lot of exposure to kids who didn’t have a lot to do during the summer and spring breaks,” Orusa says. “We know there are kids whose friends are going to Florida and Texas, so we wanted to create something to make an impact in these kids’ lives.”

The three-day spring break camp, a unique initiative for students in second through fourth grade from New Britton and Fishers Elementary schools, offered more than just a break from school. It provided breakfast and lunch from the Hamilton Southeastern catering business 1964 Catering, and a box of food from the Fishers Youth Assistance Program to supplement food needs throughout the week. The camp, led by Ashley Heckly, a community risk reduction specialist, was a one-of-a-kind experience.

The camp commenced with a strong focus on safety. The first day was filled with engaging activities, including a bike rodeo where the kids learned about wheel safety and the importance of wearing helmets. They also had the opportunity to practice fire safety and learn how to call 911 with the Hamilton County safety trailer. It was a fun and educational start to the camp.

Fishers Fire Department fishing with kids
Elementary students got to fish and learn water safety with the Fishers Fire Department

Heckly shares the second day of the camp was a highlight for the children, filled with joy and excitement. They eagerly learned how to put on life jackets and then embarked on a fishing adventure on the department’s Zodiac boat. For many, it was their first time fishing or boating. They also collaborated with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division to create a take-home first-aid kit, a task they approached with enthusiasm and a sense of accomplishment.

“On the last day they learned all about the fire station, took a tour and washed a truck,” Heckly says. “Then we created an obstacle course for them and brought in a bounce house. It was a fun and exciting final day of camp for them.”

Heckly and Orusa emphasize the camp was a true community effort. EMS and FFD members generously took their time off to participate in the camp. Brian Behrman, principal of Fishers Elementary, and Lori Mankin, principal of New Britton Elementary, played a crucial role in spreading the word about the camp to their students. HSE transportation also stepped in, providing rides to any students in need attending the camp.

The camp was not just a success, but also a transformative experience for the students. It was a testament to the power of community collaboration and the positive impact it can have on young lives. Heckly is filled with optimism, envisioning the program returning even bigger and better, continuing to make a difference in the lives of these students.

“Many times, when we interact with children in the community, it’s the worst day of their lives because they’re experiencing an emergency situation,” Heckly says. “We hope this camp gave them some familiarity with us so that if they do ever have to interact with us, we can provide some type of comfort in those situations.”

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