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Campers learn fire safety, make friends

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Wesleigh Grubb, 3, practices dialing 911 during a safety summer camp put on by Greenville Fire-Rescue at the East Branch of Sheppard Memorial Library on July 17, 2018.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plenty of young children have been scolded by their parents for playing on the phone.

But Wesleigh Grubb, 3, and her sister Ally, 6, received no such admonishment on Tuesday morning at Sheppard Memorial Library's East Branch. The girls were able to dial to their heart’s delight while learning about emergency contacts — specifically when to call 911 and when not to do so.

The Grubb sisters were participating in a free fire safety summer camp which resumes today at the library's Carver Branch.

Dewey Grubb, Wesleigh and Ally's grandmother, said the camp is a chance for children to get to know emergency workers.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for kids to come and have hands-on experiences and actually see the firefighters and EMTs so that they're not afraid of them,” Dewey Grubb said. “The children can know that the workers are friendly. My girls are having a great time.”

The camp, which is the brainchild of Greenville Fire-Rescue Life Safety Educator Rebekah Thurston, had five different learning stations set up to teach children about water safety, playground safety and bike safety, along with how and when to call 911.

Thurston said she learned about this curriculum when she attended a conference in Colorado.

“I kind of brought it back, changed it up a little bit. It's something the kids do a lot already in classrooms,” Thurston said. “In kindergarten children have reading and math stations. So, we brought that idea to fire safety.

“I think it works really well,” she said. “The kids are maybe a little overloaded but I think it really gets their brains going, thinking about what they're doing.”

At the different stations, campers learned everything from the importance of staying hydrated to pool safety. Campers also learned not to call 911 if a cat is stuck in a tree.

“Kids are learning when to call 911, and when not to call 911,” Thurston said with a laugh. “Everybody gets caught up on the cat in the tree thing. We actually don't call 911 for that.”

Back in May, Thurston said the fire department did a trial run of the fire safety learning stations and the response was overwhelming.

“We had 150 kids come out to the Carver Branch for the event and we usually have 10-15 kids, so it was really exciting for us,” she said.

Thurston said that due to the response, she wanted to offer the program as a summer camp.

She and firefighters and EMTs played games with the campers, teaching valuable lessons while fostering friendships.

“We've been hard at work creating those five different stations to incorporate water safety, playground safety and bike safety — all the things we need to keep in mind when the weather's warm or when we're outside playing,”  Thurston said.

Each station had a little game that children could play as they learned, she said

“The firefighters are having fun with it too,” Thurston said. “They get to bring out their inner child and play some of these games.”

The camp is designed for ages three to six, and Thurston said she developed the curriculum to be something both children and parents can enjoy.

“It's really cool to have the parents involved,” she said. 

Thurston said she is happy to see that her hard work and the work of fellow staff members is paying off.

“It's a fun way to learn and it's exciting to see this curriculum come to life, especially since I wrote it myself,” she said.

To learn more about the summer camp, follow Greenville Fire-Rescue on Facebook and Twitter. 

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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