Camp aims to encourage women to join firefighting, law enforcement

- For students in the Mesa School District, this week is Spring Break. Some teens will spend this Spring Break learning about what it takes to work as a first responder.

There is a twist to the story, however.

The camp was created for teenage girls, as a way to encourage more women to pursue jobs as police officers and firefighters.

"A lot of it is stuff that I heard about, and it's cool to experience it first-hand," said 15-year-old Megan Alexander. She is the daughter of Mesa firefighters, and she is hoping to learn a lot about police work, at the Aspire Academy Camp in Mesa.

Megan, however, ended up learning about something else: confidence.

"It's just good to teach you how to be confident, and how to be someone who doesn't get messed with," said Megan. "Like, this morning, we did defense tactics that even if you don't become a cop, you can use it."

"I think it's about building confidence," said Officer Natalie Barela with Tempe Police. "Some girls here, they may not be interested in becoming a firefighter or police officer or working in any sort of industry with law enforcement or fire, but it's about giving to your community and getting involved and giving back."

28 girls were tested in their understanding of everything from traffic stops to DUI, and even the complicated task of a building search.

"We did team-building activities Friday night, and the teams that didn't communicate just fell apart from the start," said Megan. "It was really interesting to see how they had to learn."

"They can absolutely do anything they put their mind to anything they are passionate about," said Barela. ""


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