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Camp Fury creates path for young women to join the public safety workforce

The camp is run by the Girl Scouts and former Tucson-area public safety professionals to provide skills, training and confidence
Posted at 9:23 PM, May 28, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — According to recent data from the FBI and FEMA, women currently comprise just 12 percent of police officers and nine percent of firefighters.

Camp Fury aims to change these statistics by offering teenage girls hands-on experience and mentorship in these fields.

In a bold effort to diversify the ranks of public safety professionals, Camp Fury, a pioneering initiative by the Girl Scouts and former Tucson-area public safety professionals, kicked off on May 28.

The goal of the camp is to empower young women to pursue careers in law enforcement and firefighting. It also seeks to diversify the public safety workforce.

“We do a lot of community service,” said Cheryl Horvath, retired Fire Chief of Tubac Fire District and co-creator of Camp Fury. “I think the more we can connect with those vulnerable populations, the better.”

On their first day, campers engaged in a series of rigorous activities designed to build both skills and confidence.

They practiced rappelling down structures, simulated responding to a brush fire, and managed a chemical spill scenario. These activities are not just about physical training but also about instilling courage, confidence, and character in each participant.

“We build into them being able to do things they never thought they could do, never considered doing,” said Laura Baker, retired Assistant Chief of Tucson Fire and co-creator of Camp Fury. “It truly builds that courage, confidence, and character in each girl.”

Campers like Jaeden Taylor have long harbored ambitions of joining law enforcement.

“I’ve always loved the idea of being in uniform and being in charge of people,” said Taylor, an incoming senior. The opportunity to attend Camp Fury, where the expenses were covered, was a dream come true for her. “I was like ‘yeah, let’s do it. I don’t want to be lazy this summer.’”

Gracyn Michaela Burke traveled from St. Louis to take part in the camp. She recently graduated from high school and is interested in a career in law enforcement.

“It’s a very dangerous field and not a lot of people want to do it,” Burke said about the law enforcement field. “I just want to be able to help people and make sure people in police work are doing it right.”

She says that she was raised to seek whatever path she chose, regardless of gender norms.

“My family has always pushed me to do anything, whatever gender you are,” she said. “So I’ve never really understood why any female couldn’t do whatever a male could do.”

The training is intense and varied. On Wednesday, May 29, campers will travel to the Public Safety Academy to climb a 105-foot ladder and rappel down a six-story building. These experiences are crucial in preparing them for the realities of public safety roles.

To Jaeden Taylor, these accomplishments show the potential of girls everywhere.

“Girls can do anything if we just put our mind to it,” she said. “No matter what you put us through, we’ll always figure out a way to be stronger than you think we are.”

After their stint at the Public Safety Academy, the campers will look forward to a graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 1 at the Hacienda Girl Scouts Center, marking the culmination of their journey toward a career in public safety.

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Joel Foster is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9 who previously worked as an English teacher in both Boston and the Tucson area. Joel has experience working with web, print and video in the tech, finance, nonprofit and the public sectors. In his off-time, you might catch Joel taking part in Tucson's local comedy scene. Share your story ideas with Joel at joel.foster@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.