Cassandra Armstrong was ready to climb.
The 14-year-old from Bonne Terre was strapped into her harness. Her helmet was secure. She had no fear.
“No, I love heights!” she said, before starting her ascent.
Then, with the guidance of a few firefighters, Armstrong scaled a 75 feet tall ladder extended into the sky above north St. Louis County.
Armstrong is one of 15 campers at the first every Camp Fury held in the Midwest. The week-long immersion camp hosted by the Girls Scouts of Eastern Missouri introduces girls to first responder careers and non-traditional jobs.
"I just saw the challenges of being a female and trying to obtain a first responder career, so I just really wanted to inspire others that they can do it,” said Katie Wiegand, who helped organize the camp.
Wiegand is a firefighter/paramedic at Metro West Fire Protection District. She and other local female first responders spent two years planning the first local Camp Fury.
Throughout the week, campers will get to learn and participate in first responder skills – like water rescue, climbing and rappelling from great heights, firearms safety and more.
“It’s not just a man’s job, it can be a woman’s job too,” Armstrong said, inspired by the professionals around her.
“I’m interested in going into law enforcement, so I saw this as an opportunity for my future,” said 17-year-old Aubrie Hart, from Park Hills, Missouri.
Hart said she was most looking forward to the simulator exercise at the police academy this week.
During camp, the girls will also visit a crime lab, hear presentations from K9 teams and drug investigators, and meet women who could become mentors.
“[They’re] not only are they getting hands on skill building, training and first responder skills, they’re also getting to interact with women role models that are experts in these fields,” said Jessica Erfling, Chief Operating Officer for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.
“So for girls to be able to envision themselves in these roles through real life role models has been an amazing for the girls that are participating.”
“We want to be those people they come to with any sort of questions or advice in life,” Wiegand explained.
“We hope girls just ultimately know that they can do anything they set their mind to. Make goals, accomplish goals, and give it hard work and dedication and anything is possible.”
The Girl Scouts hope to continue Camp Fury into future years, and introduce first responder careers to even more young women.