Camp teaches kids how to handle common dangers
After hearing a fire safety presentation, watching a demonstration by Aetna Hose Hook and Ladder Company firefighters and getting a tour of a fire engine, Kylie Hughes felt prepared.
“If there’s ever a fire, I’ll know what to do and I can tell my parents,” the 8-yearold said Tuesday.
That level of preparedness is the mission behind the Newark Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Safe Kids Camp, which runs all week at the George Wilson Center. Through a se- ries of lessons and demonstrations, the camp teaches kids how to be safe in all sorts of situations.
“When I grew up, we didn’t have as many dangers as today,” camp
instructor Donna Jeandell said. “It’s important to teach them at a young age to recognize those dangers.”
The primary message to the kids is simple.
“Think before you act when it comes to safety,” Jeandell said. “Don’t do the first thing that pops into your head.”
This year’s camp touches on topics such as pedestrian safety, emergency medicine, how to be safe around animals and why it’s important to wear a seat belt. It will culminate in a field trip to Carousel Park for a demonstration by the New Castle County Mounted Patrol Unit.
A number of public safety organizations are doing demonstrations, including the Newark Police Department K-9 unit, NPD’s bicycle officers and the Delaware State Police Aviation Unit.
Tuesday’s session kicked off with a presentation about internet safety by a representative of the Beau Biden Foundation, followed by the fire safety lesson.
While Aetna’s Irene LaVitaHarris explained the basics of surviving a house fire – such as keeping low to the ground, checking a door for heat before opening it and designating a meeting place outside the home – firefighters Marc Doyle and Brad Leifheit donned the protective clothing and masks they wear to enter a burning building.
LaVita-Harris told the kids that if they’re ever in an emergency situation to remember that firefighters are there to help, even though they may seem scary because of what they wear and the sound produced by their breathing apparatus.
“It sounds like Darth Vader, right?” she said, prompting laughter.
Next, the approximately 25 kids ages 5 to 8 went outside to learn how fire engines work and even took turns sitting inside.
The highlight of the day for many kids came when the Delaware State Police helicopter swooped over George Wilson Park and kicked up dust as it set down on the baseball field.
“It was a sandstorm, like a supernova,” camper James Bragg, 8, said excitedly.
Once on the ground, pilot Cpl. Steve Griffin and flight paramedic Cpl. TJ Aube explained how they use the helicopter to fly patients to the hospital, search for missing persons or criminals and assist other first responders on the ground.
“It was really cool they can fly down and help the cops on the ground,” Hughes said, adding that she also enjoyed an earlier presentation from AAA Mid-Atlantic’s talking car, Otto the Auto.
Camper Genevieve Duker, 5, had trouble picking out her favorite moment.
“I like the whole entire camp,” she said.
Cpl. Adam Mease, the Newark Police Department’s school resource officer, spent all week with the campers, teaching lessons on bike safety, gun safety and how to safely cross the street. He said it’s good for the campers to be able to casually interact with a cop.
He hopes the campers leave at the end of the week feeling better equipped to handle dangerous situations.
“It’s good for them to be learning about things before they happen so they have a heads up if they’re in an accident or a house fire,” he said.
Safe Kids Camp students get an up-close view of an Aetna firefighter on Tuesday. The firefighter was demonstrating how he crawls on the ground to avoid smoke in a burning building.
Genevieve Duker, 5, tries on firefighter Marc Doyle’s helmet during Safe Kids Camp on Tuesday.
Delaware State Police pilot Cpl. Steve Griffin (left) and flight paramedic Cpl. TJ Aube explain how they use a helicopter to fly patients to the hospital, search for missing persons or criminals and assist other first responders on the ground.
Safe Kids Camp students get a hands-on look at an Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder, Co. fire engine.