Camp Fury in KC Another Success

Greetings from District 11 on the west side of the state, I hope everyone is enjoying and having a safe 2023 thus far. I was able to catch up with a lot of you that had attended the annual convention and I want to thank those that were able to make the trip to Springfield, MO. I hope to see more at the 2024 convention. One of the topics I seem to hear during discussions at the convention and while interacting with other departments in my district was the recruitment of new young people. Not only to the fire service but public safety in general. I was approached by Captain Whetro with KCFD regarding the opportunity to interact with and observed what I think is a great partnership with an organization called Camp Fury which was hosted in Kansas City June 11-16, 2023. The aspiration and teamwork I witnessed with the participants and volunteer staff from the numerous agencies was impressive. I had a great conversation with the founder of Camp Fury, Chief Cheryl Horvath in Tucson, Arizona on the day of the aerial climb and what the camp had progressed and become. I was impressed with how many camps she said are beginning to be established throughout the country. This unique opportunity for high school-age ladies is an excellent example of how to promote jobs and create a career interest in public safety. After the camps conclusion on the 16th I spoke with Captain Whetro the following Monday regarding how the camp went and the feedback from the participants and she stated:

“It was another successful year that concluded at Camp Fury KC. This was the camp’s second consecutive year after being canceled right before its original launch in 2020. Camp Fury is a weeklong fully immersive experience for high school girls regardless of career aspirations, although the focus is on gaining insight on public safety professions. The girls stay the night at Camp Prairie Schooner while spending their days at various public safety entities throughout the week.

Life Flight kicked off the first night with a surprise presentation and landing at Camp. Then the week was spent at the Kansas City Police Academy, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department Station 6, Kansas City Fire Department Station 14, and the Johnson County Crime Lab among other places. The campers spent time rappelling, climbing an aerial, doing search and rescue in smoked-out environments, learning defensive tactics and handcuffing with KCPD, and even got to participate in a tactical vehicular intervention. The purpose of the camp is not only to shed light on some of the things a public safety career may entail, but also to build courage, confidence, character, and leadership skills among the campers. Throughout the week, campers are spent working in a team-building environment and building their confidence with each situation they are able to successfully participate. They are mentored by female instructors who work in public safety professions around the metro area. At the end of the week, several young people graduate from Camp as completely changed individuals. Last year, one camper applied for the Fire Department while she was still at camp. Another is currently in EMT school after her experience.”

Camp Fury was started 14 years ago by Chief Cheryl Horvath in Tucson, Arizona. When asked what the motivation for the camp idea her response was, “She wanted to shed light on public safety professions for young women who may be interested or had never thought about the career path previously.”

Now, there are several Camp Fury’s throughout the country. Illinois will be hosting its first one in just a few short weeks. The organization has the week-long Camp Fury but also has a one-day version that they call Catching Fury which is for 7th, 8th, snd 9th grade age ladies to get a glimpse of what the week-long camp will entail.

Although Camp Fury is an entity of Girl Scouts, campers do not have to have been a Girl Scout before attending. Part of the application process for Camp Fury includes signing up for Girl Scouts, but there are no other Girl Scout requirements or obligations outside of Camp Fury if the camper doesn’t want to participate in any other programs. There are scholarships available thanks to sponsorship from local firefighter unions.
Camp Fury is a great opportunity for young women to physically and mentally challenge themselves in an encouraging environment.

If you are interested in starting a Camp Fury in your local area, the first step is to get in touch with the head of your local Girl Scout council and tell them you are interested in starting the program. Camp Fury KC has a lead team with one person from each major department that participates. The lead team works with Girl Scouts to plan, fund and organize the program.

You can also reach out to Captain Kelsey Whetro via email at Kelsey.whetro@kcmo.org. Captain Whetro is one of the lead team members for Camp Fury KC.

Captain Whetro with camp attendees.
Graduation from camp with the ladies and mentors.
Volunteers and staff that make Camp Fury happen in Kansas City.