MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — Training at the Milwaukee Fire Academy isn't just for men.
More and more young women are climbing the ladder of success. They're learning first responder skills, thanks to Camp Hero.
19-year-old Elizabeth Canadas says, "This camp lets girls see that they have the ability to make these first responder careers."
Sponsored by Girl Scouts Wisconsin Southeast, Camp Hero began in 2016.
Lt. Phil Cockroft of the Milwaukee Fire department has been working with the camp from the beginning. "It's really taken off and helped us tremendously when it comes to our recruitment efforts. We actually have a paid apprenticeship program," he says.
Girl Scouts Community Programs Manager Marta Carrion says these young ladies are learning a lot.
"What is needed to become a police officer or emergency medical technician. Maybe I don't want to become a doctor, but I liked the medicine area. There are options and alternatives," Carrion says.
20-year-old Mackenzie Berlin graduated from Reagan High School in 2019, and she's now a Milwaukee Fire cadet.
"After going through this program... academically, I thought I would be fine. Physically I did not think I was going to be, like, capable, but over the last two years, I've improved greatly, and now I feel very comfortable," Mackenzie says. "And obviously, there's so much more stuff I have to learn, but I feel very comfortable where I am."
Lt. Cockcroft says girls get a well-rounded experience. "We also throw in our 911 dispatchers to teach a communication class," he says. "We combine one big activity for an active shooter, which obviously deals with a lot of what goes on in society today and what we do as first responders when we go to those calls. "
Elizabeth Canadas has attended Camp Hero three summers in a row.
"It's so much fun," she says. "You get to experience so many things. You get to go on the Milwaukee Police boats. We go around the lake, which is so fun! You get to see downtown Milwaukee."
Eighth-grader Bridget Dome is a returning Camp Hero Scout. She says, "I love the camping part of it, and you meet so many good people there."
Cadet Mackenzie Berlin has lofty goals as she begins her new career.
"I'm going to be running department one day, hopefully," she says. "Maybe 30 years from now. I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can. I want to learn as much as I can."
Carole Meekins at TMJ4 first reported this story.