Volunteers of America Upstate New York recently partnered with Rochester Police Department, Rochester Fire Department, the city 911 Call Center and AMR Rochester to host Camp Heroes, a youth summer camp at Rochester Rotary Sunshine Campus in Rush.
Now in its fourth year, this experience gave 44 children from the city of Rochester a chance to participate in a summer camp while building relationships with Rochester’s first responders, who volunteer their time as camp counselors. Many children from economically disadvantaged homes benefit from outdoor skill-building activities.
In addition to activities like rock climbing, fishing, archery and zip lining, Camp Heroes gave campers a chance to learn more about first responders and their work. Children and first responders had a chance to get to know each other in a non-crisis, relaxed setting, which helps to change perceptions and build trust.
Demo Day, a favorite among campers and staff, is when the first responders provide demonstrations of their work and the gear they use. Campers are encouraged to interact with first responders and use their rescue equipment.
“It’s completely mind boggling the change they go through,” said Germaine Burton, the mother of two campers who attended in 2017. “They get a chance to become more independent, come out of their shell and develop their individual selves.”
Visit voaupny.org/camp-heroes for information.