Kids typically go to summer camp to swim, make crafts and share stories around an open fire. At Pasco-Hernando State College kids went to camp to set the course for their futures.
This marks the second year that PHSC offered academic career-themed summer camps for students in grades 7-9. The half-day sessions, conducted at the college's New Port Richey and Dade City campuses, explore career options in areas that include business and technology, health, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics).
"These camps are all about giving students a taste of their futures," said Edwin Goolsby, dean of workforce development at Pasco-Hernando State College. "Here kids can learn about workforce programs on an academic level, where they can train for sustainable jobs."
Some campers created business plans, prepared resumes and participated in mock job interviews. Others worked on a mock trial, came up with a miniature version of the Internet or became CPR certified.
Recently, about a dozen students learned about careers in the fire sciences from William Watson, a PHSC instructor of fire science technology and a captain/paramedic with the Hillsborough County Fire Department.
"When they're kids, students visit the fire department and work the lights on the fire truck. At this age they want more information," Watson said. "We want to teach them that the fire department isn't just about running calls. It's a business with a budget."
Watson asked students to consider the ways a fire department operates as a business.
"When you work in a fire department, you are working in a business where people have jobs," answered Charlotte Vari, 12, a seventh-grader at Seven Springs Middle School.
"You provide a service," said Richie Vari, 14, a Mitchell High School freshman.
The customer base of this business, added Watson, could include the entire community.
"Whenever we put out a house fire, apply first aid ... we're dealing with our customers," he said.
Watson outlined the operating budget of the fire department, including electricity, fuel, payroll, equipment costs, uniforms, cleaning supplies, etc. He described the duties of department employees, including fire investigators, and administration and human resources personnel.
"It's important in every business to have a vision to your future," he said.
Patrice Minogue, 13, a Dayspring Academy eighth-grader, said she gained a new understanding of fire science at camp.
"I learned about all the ways that firefighters save lives," she said. "And that's so cool."