In March, 28 high school Girl Scouts demonstrated courage, confidence, and character while participating in the second annual Aspire Academy held at the Mesa Police and Fire Training Facility. Supported by the Valley’s finest female police officers and fire fighters, these girls were taken through the learning experience of a lifetime.
Each morning started with lots of sweat. At 6 a.m. girls were up and running, literally, for their day. They spent a full day each with the fire and police departments learning what it’s like to be fire fighter or in law enforcement.
On “fire day,” our Girl Scouts, dressed in full fire-fighting gear, learned how to drag hoses, throw ladders, perform search and rescues through smoke-filled buildings, and rappelled down two stories. And that was all before lunch! The initial two-story rappel was simply to get girls prepared for the biggest challenge of the day -- the seven-story rappel. There were tears, there was laughter and there was triumph, as each girl slowly made their way down the side of the building.
A Girl Scout participant rappels down a seven-story building.
“Before Aspire, I've never felt empowered or confident that I could do anything,” says Cassie, a Girl Scout participant. “I felt connected to all the amazing staff and loved everyone there. Aspire Academy changed my life!”
Not to be outdone by the fire departments, the Valley’s police departments took over the second full day of the academy. Our officers-in-training learned about gun safety, had the opportunity to practice defensive tactics, including a timed handcuffing competition, and tactical building searches. At the end, all the various areas of police and fire work were showcased in format that allowed the girls to interact and ask questions directly to the officers who work in those areas.
Aspire Academy is modeled after the program, Camp Fury, held in Tucson with Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. Police and Fire staff who participated in Tucson’s program wanted to bring a similar program to the Phoenix area. Aspire Academy was spearheaded by Sergeant Kimberly Scott of Mesa Police Department and Chief Mary Cameli, Katie Peiffer, and Michelle Denton of Mesa Fire Department.
Girls perform search and rescues through smoke-filled buildings in full fire-fighting gear.
Thank you to our Aspire Donors: Maricopa County Attorney’s Asset Recovery, Jeff Whiteman of Empire Southwest, Nancy Baldwin of Hickey Foundation, East Valley Firefighter Charities Foundation, City of Mesa, Councilmember Christopher Glover, and Mesa Sunrise Rotary Club Foundation.
And thank you to the participating departments: Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona State University Police, BORSTAR K-9 (Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue), Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department, Chandler Police Department, Gilbert Fire and Rescue, Gilbert Police Department, Glendale Fire and Police Department, Goodyear Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff, City of Maricopa Police Department, Mesa Fire and Police Department, Peoria Fire-Medical Department, Peoria Police Department, Phoenix Fire and Police Department, Salt River Pima Maricopa Police Department, Scottsdale Fire and Police Department, Superstition Fire and Medical District, and Tempe Fire and Police Department.
Want to get a behind-the-scenes look of what it’s like to experience Aspire Academy? See for yourself!