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Apopka Youth Fire Camp: Experiencing life as a firefighter


By Crystal Jacome, Interning Correspondent with The Apopka Voice

Every summer, kids in the community ages 8-18 get excited for the Apopka Youth Fire Camp; a great learning opportunity where they can experience the life of a firefighter.

The Apopka Fire Department facilitates this annual event.

For ages 14-18, the camp serves as a great career exploration for students with an interest in law enforcement or Firefighting/EMS/Paramedic careers. The camp participants get excited with the range of activities that they experience both physically and mentally.

And what is the all-time favorite activity from testimonials of the kids? The smoke maze!

“The hardest thing we do is the smoke room and they added smoke this year but it’s pitch black," said Karina, a middle schooler at the camp. "You have to pretend you're a fireman and pretend you have the training."


It was also a thrilling experience for me.

To break open an automobile with cutters and spreaders (often referred to as "jaws of life") allowed me to feel how heavy this equipment is and the strength it takes to pry open an entire car door and take it apart. This equipment is typically used after a car accident and it is urgent to get the people out of the car if they are unable because of injury, severe damage, and the airbags being deployed.

Not only do the kids have the opportunity to learn and experience these activities, but they also get to hear life-changing stories that the firefighters have experienced while being out on a call or even what motivated them to be where they are today.

Apopka Firefighter William Ayala shares his experience attending the Youth Summer Camp when he was younger leading up to high school, where his tragic loss lead him to pursue his career as a firefighter.


“You really see how their brains are working behind the scenes," said Rose, a high school camp participant. "They say, 'I have to put my life on the line for these people to save them. Someone told us straight up if I had to take a bullet to save someone's life I would do it... or I went into that fire to save someone's life over mine. It’s really cool to see their perspective and their drive."

I would like to thank AFD Lieutenant Jerald Maynard for being so welcoming to me and providing me the opportunity to hear these stories and experiencing some of the activities. Until next year!

Apopka Fire Department, Apopka Youth Fire Camp, EMT, Firefighters, Paramedic, The Smoke Maze


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