Over the past four days (July 19-22), Arlington County Fire Department’s Camp Heat provided girls ages 15-18 with a free-of-charge inside look at a career in the fire service.
Now in its fifth year, the program has hosted more than 80 campers. Participants this year came from Northern Virginia, Maryland and as far as Ohio to experience fire and emergency medical services simulations, physical training and team-building activities.
“A lot of the females [at ACFD] ended up doing this after going to school or doing other careers,” Capt. Sarah Marchegiani said. “They never really thought about it as a career just because socially, it’s not really something that we’re exposed to as little girls.”
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 20, 2018
Erin Schartiger, a junior mentor for Camp Heat, attended the program two summers ago. Now, she is a certified firefighter in her home city of Sterling.
Camp Heat “was what pushed me [to be] like, ‘oh yeah, this is definitely something I want to try, something I want to do,'” Schartiger said.
Across the country in 2016, about four percent of career firefighters were women, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In Arlington, that number stands around 10 percent.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 20, 2018
So far, at least two former campers have applied in ACFD’s current hiring cycle. Though Marchegiani said she would love for all of the campers to become Arlington County firefighters, “that’s obviously not realistic.”
“In general, I hope they come out with a mindset that they can accomplish whatever they want if they work hard, they dream big and put in the effort and time,” Marchegiani said. “It’s really just all about empowering them to show them that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”
Various camps, which take place at the college preparatory high school, focus on science, coding, sports and drama. Campers are grouped by age and advised by certified coaches and teachers.
The science camp prepares students for high school work in genetics and DNA extraction, robotics, 3-D creation and design and more. Campers take part in laboratories and experiments in a fun and explorative environment.
Drama campers in grades 3 through 10 get a dose of high quality theater training that makes for an energetic and creative summer. They will develop their acting, and movement chops in preparation for an end-of-camp performance in front of friends and family members.
B.I. Girls Coding camp is an instructional camp which an overview of the most important aspects of coding using the programming language Java. The camp will include lessons, activities and a camper-run project of their choosing.
This year’s sports camps include girls’ lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, rowing, football, volleyball and junior and advanced soccer. For full-day camps, lunch is provided at no extra cost and everyone gets a camp t-shirt.
Three Arlington women will be honored by the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the 32nd annual Women of Vision award ceremony on June 26.
Local artist Sushmita Mazumdar will be recognized for her success in business, after she launched “Homemade Storybooks” in 2007, through which she sells personally crafted editions of original stories that are often drawn from her own life. Five years later, Mazumar founded Studio PAUSE, which provides a space for community members to engage in art and storytelling, sometimes concurrently.
Adrienne Griffen, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Postpartum Support Virginia, will be recognized for her work to support new mothers and their healthcare providers as they navigate postpartum depression.
Founded in 2009, PSVA provides resources including peer-led support groups, books and websites and training sessions, according to its website. When she experienced difficulties finding help after one of her children was born, Griffen became determined to help other women avoid similar challenges.
The group also plans to recognize Lauren Stienstra, senior manager for research and policy at the Arlington County Department of Public Safety, Communications and Emergency Management, for her work in government.
Stienstra launched HERicane Arlington in 2017, a program that “empowers women to pursue careers and leadership roles in emergency management,” according to its website. HERicane participants attend a weeklong summer camp and subsequently receive opportunities to volunteer, intern and engage with continued learning activities.
CSW selects honorees based on a system of point values, wherein successful candidates earn up to sixteen points — one point for residency in Arlington, five for the scope of their activity and 10 for their impact.
Other CSW initiatives include advocacy against sexual, domestic and street harassment, promoting state legislation that protects women’s social and economic interests and hosting educational workshops.
Democratic County Board Field at Two — Military veteran Chanda Choun was the only candidate for County Board to announce his candidacy at the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Choun joins fellow Democrat Matt de Ferranti in the race to challenge incumbent John Vihstadt. A primary will be held June 12, ahead of the general election contest against Vihstadt in November. [InsideNova]
Affordable Housing Stats for FY 2017 — “Arlington County added or preserved 556 affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income households during its 2017 fiscal year, bringing the Countywide total to more than 7,700 units.” [Arlington County]
Government Shuts Down Briefly — The government was shut down overnight as Congress failed to pass a bipartisan budget bill until around 5:30 a.m. [Politico]
HERricane Applications Accepted — Applications are being accepted in February for Arlington County’s HERricane program, which helps girls ages 13-17 to pursue careers and leadership roles in emergency management through a week-long summer camp. [Arlington County]
Murder of Crows Pooping All Over Shirlington — A large contingent of crows have taken up residence in Shirlington, and locals are getting fed up with cars and sidewalks being covered in bird doo-doo. [WTOP, NBC Washington]
Design Contest for 2019 ‘I Voted’ Sticker — “In an effort to gin up voter enthusiasm during what is expected to be a slow 2019, Arlington election officials… plan to hold a competition to design a logo for next year’s election.” [InsideNova]
Arlington No. 3 on ‘Best Counties’ List — A new list of “best counties” in the U.S. ranks Falls Church — a city — No. 1 while Arlington is No. 3 and Fairfax is No. 6. The list was compiled by the website 24/7 Wall Street. [WTOP]
Mitten Given the Boot By Grand Rapids — The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan is restarting its search for a new city manager after an outcry from residents and interest groups. Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten was among the three finalists for the job to speak at a community forum, prior to the city announcing the restart. [Fox 17, MLive]
Police Recruiting for Student Safety Patrol Camp — “The Arlington County Police Department’s School Resource Officer Unit is currently accepting applications to the Summer Safety Patrol Camp. This weeklong camp is offered to incoming 4th and 5th grade students who want to participate in safety patrols during the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year.” [Arlington County]
More on Market Common Redevelopment Approval — The redevelopment of a portion of Market Common Clarendon will widen a narrow sidewalk that was the source of resident complaints, among other community benefits. Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey hopes the project can help “bring a little funkiness back into Clarendon.” [Arlington Connection]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management will host its new HERricane camp at Washington-Lee High School next week, with the goal of inspiring “the next generation of firefighters, meteorologists, epidemiologists and county managers.”
Lauren Stienstra, senior manager at OEM, said she was inspired to hold a camp after she and a co-worker had a hard time naming women in emergency management for Women’s History Month. Young women in particular often account for only a small percentage of emergency management professionals.
“We started to think about a summer camp to be a way to bridge the gap, to help girls to consider fields in emergency management and allied fields,” said Stienstra.
The week-long camp from June 26-30 will give participants hands-on training with firefighting equipment and CPR. Other activities include preparing meals from emergency kits and a scavenger hunt. Registration is closed, with the camp filling up after just two weeks.
In addition to the exercises at camp, the young women involved will be able to find long term professional development opportunities. Guest instructors from the Red Cross, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Urban Alliance and the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs will all participate.
Stienstra said it makes sense for such a camp to take place in Arlington, as the county was the first to have a woman work as a professional firefighter in the 1970s.
“[Arlington County] was on the front line of integrating gender equality for that field,” Stienstra said.
Long Bridge Project Coming — Virginia’s new Atlantic Gateway transportation plan includes the reconstruction of Long Bridge, the rail bridge that runs parallel to the 14th Street Bridge. As proposed, the new bridge would carry four rail tracks instead of two. Local elected officials expressed support for the project at a press conference with Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Alexandria last week. [Arlington Connection]
Kids Attend ‘Peace Camp’ — A group of local children attended a week-long camp that was all about promoting peace through music, art and games. The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington and organized by the group Little Friends for Peace. [WUSA 9]
Sugar Shack Debuts ‘Donut Lab’ — Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike will be debuting new flavors every Wednesday as part of a social media competition with its sister store in Alexandria. Each week customers will vote on their favorite flavor. This week’s new flavor at the Arlington store is “Cannoli,” with cannoli cream filling and chocolate glaze. [Patch]
Community Zika Meeting — The Fairlington neighborhood will be holding a community meeting on the threat of the Zika virus tonight. [Twitter]
Marymount is offering two sessions of the camp this summer, one for younger runners and one for more experienced athletes. Marymount’s cross-country and triathlon coach Zane Castro will coach both, assisted by professional triathlete Calah Schlabach and St. Anselm’s Abbey School cross-country coach Kailey Gotta.
The first session (June 22-26) is designed for runners age 8-13 who are looking to develop their skills. Enrollment in the five day camp costs $310, which includes lunch at the university and a camp t-shirt at the end of the session. The camp will run each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no cap on enrollment.
The second session (June 29-July 3) is capped at 25 students and is geared towards runners age 14-17 who are preparing for the coming cross-country season. The more intensive camp will run from 7:30 a.m to 12 p.m. every day. Cost of enrollment is $200.
According to a press release, participants in both camps will receive a written evaluation from the coaches at the end of the session. To enroll their child, parents should send an email with their child’s name, age and emergency contact number.
Parents must also fill out a registration form and bring the form and a check on the first day of the camp. The form, along with a list of other youth development camps being offered at Marymount this summer, can be found on the school’s website.
The library recently began lending American Girl dolls and the toys are getting a lot of play time. Volunteers are needed for upkeep of the dolls, including combing their hair, washing their clothes and replacing worn out parts. The position posting reads: “We need someone who enjoys working with dolls and their belongings and who is dependable.”
There would be a weekly commitment, but hours are flexible. Ideal candidates are teens or a parent/child team. Those 18 years and older must consent to a background check.
Interested volunteers should contact Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688 or put in a request online.
Below are a few other new volunteer opportunities around Arlington:
- Community Picnic Volunteers — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is looking for helpers at a picnic it is hosting for residents at Columbia Grove on July 15. Volunteers would help with setup and cleanup, leading games for children, face painting, cooking and distributing food and drinks. The picnic is designed to help residents meet their neighbors and build a sense of community. The event runs from 3:30-7:30 p.m., but arrangements may be made for those who can’t stay the entire time. Anyone interested in helping should contact Liz McElwee at 703-851-3635 or send an online request.
- Angel Tree Family Registration — Although it’s summertime, the Salvation Army is already looking for people to help with its Angel Tree holiday gift program. The program identifies needy children and matches each one with a sponsor who will provide holiday gifts for the child. Volunteers will register needy families for the program and help make holiday wish lists. Helpers must be available on weekdays from September 16-October 11, but the schedule is flexible. Although volunteers who are available on a recurring basis are preferred, those who are only available on a one-time basis will also be considered. To sign up, call Brittney Drakeford at 202-756-2615 or send an online request.
- Spanish Academy Teacher Assistant — Volunteer teacher assistants are needed for Edu-Futuro’s Spanish Academy — a two week (August 12-23) summer immersion camp that provides cultural and academic enrichment and Spanish language skills to rising kindergarteners through fifth graders. Volunteers will perform tasks such as assisting with student registration, helping with classroom activities and watching over students during activities and recess breaks. Applicants should have Spanish language skills (verbal and written), experience working with children and must go through a background check. To sign up, contact Eneida Alcade at 703-228-2560 or send an online request.
Photo via Facebook
An innovative summer camp could spark new career ambitions among high school-aged girls in Arlington who feel up for a challenge. Long term, it could also help the Arlington County Fire Department meet its goal of recruiting more female firefighters.
The Girls’ Fire Camp, a free overnight camp scheduled for July 12-14, is designed to give girls aged 13 to 16 a taste of the firefighter’s life. Participants will work out, run drills and learn skills — all under the close supervision of ACFD staff. The department’s recruiting officer, Capt. Brandon D. Jones, described the camp as a “fun-filled weekend” in which high school students will “learn how to stay in great shape” while performing basic firefighting and emergency medical tasks.
“The department hopes to make a long-term connection with the participants,” Jones said. “After they attend this camp, some may be inspired to continue their ambition to become a Firefighter/EMT in the future.”
Though Arlington was the first fire department in the country to hire a female professional firefighter, in 1974, it has struggled like other departments nationwide to recruit women for the traditionally male profession. Currently, females comprise about 9 percent of the 300-plus member Arlington department. Nationwide, only about 6 percent of firefighters are women.
As recruiters get more creative in their quest for diversity, fire camps for high school girls have proliferated. Since the Tucson Fire Department joined with the neighboring Northwest Fire/Rescue District to open its inaugural Camp Fury for girls in 2009, other jurisdictions have followed suit. The Ashland Fire Department in Massachusetts runs a Camp Bailout, the New Hampshire State Fire Academy runs a Camp Fully Involved and the Utica Fire Academy in New York offers the Phoenix Firecamp.
“The camp is a really great idea,” said Capt. Anne Marsh, an EMS supervisor and 15-year veteran of the Arlington department. “We want our department to represent the general population. So many people come into the fire department as part of a family legacy, and women have simply not had as many role models to follow.”
Campers will spend the two nights, with chaperones, at Marymount University. During the days, they will participate in activities that include physical training, a fire extinguisher class, hose drills and an aerial ladder demonstration. They will tour the Arlington fire stations and, treat of treats, dine with the on-duty crews.
“The idea is to put the possibility of becoming a firefighter on the front burner for them,” said Arlington firefighter/paramedic Jennifer Slade, a seven-year veteran of the department, “but we’re also trying to incorporate fun into it, so it’s not just learning.”
“Even if they don’t go into the field,” Slade added, “hopefully they will talk to their friends about how much fun they had.”
The camp is limited to 16 participants, who must fill out an application that includes an essay. Those interested can call 703-228-0098 or visit the camp’s web page for more information.
Photos via Arlington County. Michael Doyle is a journalist and Arlington resident. He is a member of the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.
Arlington on a ‘Money-Hungry Crusade?’ — Arlington is on “a money-hungry crusade for increased revenue at the expense of neighborhoods and communities,” writes the Arlington Connection. The paper suggests that “residential neighborhoods are increasingly in the crosshairs of developers seeking larger and larger densities,” and the County Board is acquiescing to their demands in an effort to drum up more tax money. “This is a County Board that acts like Republicans even though they’re all Democrats,” one civic association president is quoted as saying. [Arlington Connection]
Governor Backs Bipartisan Transportation Deal — A bipartisan compromise on transportation funding in the Virginia General Assembly has won the support of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). The deal, which will ultimately raise $880 million per year for transportation projects, replaces the 17.5 cent gas tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gas and a 6 percent wholesale tax on diesel. It also raises the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent and imposes a $100/year fee on hybrid vehicles. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Shakespeare Production to Include ‘Splash Zone’ — The Synetic Theater production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” opening today in Crystal City, will include 2,500 gallons of standing water on stage, an on-stage rainfall, and a “splash zone” (a section of audience seating likely to get wet during the show). [Washington Post]
Parks Dept. Says Camp Registration Went Smoothly — The Arlington County parks department received more than 1,900 summer camp registrations between 7:00 and 7:10 a.m. yesterday. Officials said the registration process, which has been beset by technical problems in the past, went smoothly this time around. [Patch]
ARLnow Commenters Called ‘Offputting’ — An Arlington “community notable” has “found the ranting of loony respondents on ARLnow to be offputting,” according to Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey. McCaffrey predicts that of Arlington’s three online-only news sites, “odds are not all will survive the year.” [Sun Gazette]