LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — It was a day camp like no other. These kids were surrounded by fire trucks and firefighters, igniting a passion for public safety.

“Camps are the thing you do during the summer. and I think once they leave here they say I think it’s really fun,”  said Suzi Sutton, a volunteer firefighter and community outreach coordinator at the Lafayette Fire Company.

This is the idea behind “Cadet Camp,” exposing kids to all sorts of scenarios, including real life emergency calls.

“This was one of the greatest experiences for kids to have at camp to have is that these calls we don’t get to choose when they happen, “ Suzi Sutton said.

The eight to 14-year-olds started with the basics before getting interrupted by a call and a very important one.

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“There was a gas leak that got called out earlier, so basically they got to see how our designated responders got geared up and got on the truck and departed to see what a kind of emergency scene they were going into,” Sutton said.

The Lafayette Fire Company is all volunteer. Twenty five active volunteers respond to a majority of calls, covering parts of East Lampeter and Lancaster Townships.

“Nationwide more than 75 percent of fire companies are actually serviced by volunteer fire companies so we are not alone here in Lancaster County as far as depending on volunteers but if we don’t have more people volunteering the question becomes who will answer your call,” Sutton added.

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Keeping their attention hasn’t been an issue, from push ups to STEM exercises, they’re learning what it really takes to be a firefighter.

First Responders Children’s Foundation makes camps like this possible. They support firehouses in their mission.

“Maybe they’ll be the ones that become a firefighter and they make the difference between an emergency and a tragedy,” said Jillian Caren, President at  First Responders Children’s Foundation.

The bottom line is this: their lasting impression will be how hard it is to be a firefighter but also how rewarding and how challenging it is to do as a team.

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