Thursday might have been just another overcast summer day to some students on break, but to the children attending Camp Lifesavers, it was an opportunity to learn about safety.
Camp Lifesavers, a one-day free safety camp for area children ages 6-11, is geared toward creating a fun, hands-on environment while simultaneously educating campers about electrical, water, animal, fire and bike safety.
Lt. Beverley Walker of Hall County Fire Services was overseeing the camp activities at Mulberry Creek Community Center. Camps also were held earlier this week at the North Hall and East Hall community centers.
“We have people from Jackson EMC that come and do electrical safety, from the (Hall County) Sheriff’s Office to do a ‘Stranger Danger’ presentation. ... The fire trucks will be here, too,” Walker said. “It’s just a fun-filled day for the kids to learn about safety.”
Walker was also pleased with the turnout of a little more than 50 children, which is about the limit the camp can handle.
A demonstration on electrical safety started the morning, with Paul Eckstein and Junior Martinez from Jackson EMC introducing their “Safety Town,” a model of a residence complete with power lines and trees.
“It’s a great way to start off,” Walker said, “because the kids are captured. ... They just love it.”
McKenna Koons, a first-timer to the camp, was excited to participate in the activities, stating that her favorite part of Camp Lifesavers was “that we actually get to do stuff, like hands-on activities.” Hands-on she was, as the 10-year-old’s arm was one of the first in the air when Eckstein and Martinez asked for volunteers.
As a volunteer, Koons, along with several other audience members, took her turn trying on the oversized protective gloves worn by electricians when working on equipment. Her challenge was to unscrew a nut from a bolt without dropping it, all while wearing the gloves.
This exercise was to demonstrate the complexities that electricians encounter while working on equipment, often in intense conditions ranging from heavy storms to extreme heat.
Koons also mentioned that one of the most important things she has learned is “the right way to unplug a cord ... like my iPod cord plug.”
Following the segment on electrical safety, the lights in the room were darkened to prepare for the “Stranger Danger” presentation, led by Sgt. AnMarie Martin of the sheriff’s office.
Campers were encouraged to answer questions such as “What is a stranger?” and “What should you do?” as well as participate in various scenarios designed to prepare them for potential real-life situations. Martin stressed to the children the importance of trusting their instincts and being aware of their surroundings.
Walker pointed out the high likelihood of the campers passing this newfound safety knowledge on to their families.
“They make safety booklets that they’ll take home and share with their parents and family members, so they can pass that along,” she said.
In addition to learning a number of vital lifesaving tips, “one of the most important things,” Walker said, “(is to) have fun. The biggest thing is to have some fun, too.”