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.”
Maybe girls really do run the world — or at least, perhaps, world finals.
An all-girls group of problems solvers from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind world finals next month after becoming state champions on April 14 in Newport News, Va.
The competition pushes students to work creatively as a team to “create original solutions to… divergent problems,” according to the competition’s website. This year’s theme is “emoji, speak for yourself.”
Seven girls — Buse Arici, Maddie Brown, Audrey Ferguson, Nora Johnson, Zella Mantler, Katie Martin, and Kaitlyn Nowinski — comprise the state championship-winning team.
Getting seven children to work together as a team takes a lot of effort, and the school estimates that the girls have dedicated more than 100 hours toward their competition submission.
The pursuit of problem solving — in their case, finding a way to communicate the story of a forgotten emoji without speaking, by just using emojis — led the seven girls to build “a texting machine that prints a message” and two emoji machines. In the process, they learned to use 3D printers, Adobe Illustrator and power tools to design their prototypes and their own costumes.
The silence stipulation alone will be quite the challenge for the group, a lively and talkative bunch whose excitement bubbled over into constant eruptions of euphoria while meeting with ARLnow at their elementary school on Wednesday (April 25).
The program was first brought to the school in 2015, and the team is the first from Glebe to win at Odyssey’s regional and state competition, according to Arlington Public Schools.
The world finals, hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will pit the nine- and 10-year-old girls against about 850 teams from 25 countries. According to the competition’s website, tens of thousands of students are anticipated to descend on little Ames, population just over 66,000, from May 23-26.
Getting the team to the competition will also prove challenging, and the girls have set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for their transportation and other expenses. The overall goal is $17,000, the girls said, but the fundraising webpage’s goal is much lower, at $6,000.
The team will be hosting other fundraising efforts, like a bake sale, to raise the remaining funds.
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Schools
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Photo via @kcristol