Haley Gordon

Girls carefully listen as Haley Gordon shows how the fire truck’s ladders work and how to use them.

Glendale Fire and Police hosted the Aspire Academy for young girls throughout the state who have an interest in entering the field. 

From Oct. 14 to Oct. 17, Glendale welcomed 18 high school aged girls to a four-day immersive public safety camp.

The camp originated in Tucson as Camp Fury. Since its origination, the Yuma and Mesa fire departments have hosted the academy.

Glendale Fire and Police joined the other Arizona departments as hosts, making it the first year the camp has been held in the West Valley.

The camp is in partnership with the Girls Scouts of Arizona, who have worked to provide accommodations, transportation and web support.

The camp’s intent is to introduce high school-aged girls to careers that may be mostly dominated by men and show these young women they too can be successful in these fields. 

“We’re showing them careers in public safety, police and fire more specifically, and expressing to them that they can do this and show them that we have a lot of women in these fields and they’re very successful, and that they can do it too,” said Captain Ashley Losch, Glendale Fire’s public information officer.

Women represent 12% of police departments and 5% of fire departments across the country. These agencies believe that by introducing girls to women who have succeeded in departments from across Arizona it will inspire them to pursue their dreams. 

“It’s also about instilling confidence in them and showing them that when they leave the four-day camp, they have the confidence to do anything they want to do, not just a male dominated field. And I think girls have this need, specifically 13- to 18-year-olds, that’s when you’re really trying to figure yourself out, and gain that confidence. This could be a turning point for some of them,” Losch said. 

The group of mentors leading this academy said the goal of the event was to have the girls leave the camp with a passion for police or fire and a newfound sense of confidence.

The camp was 100% staffed by volunteers from fire and police departments from all over Arizona. 

“In the fire department, we preach ‘Fire family.’ This is proof of that. When we reach out to our fire family, it’s not just Glendale firefighters, we have firefighters from Mesa, Gilbert Avondale, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Surprise, Tempe and police officers as well. When we put out the call saying we’re doing something good for the community and for these girls, people jumped at the chance to participate. That says a lot about your public safety professionals from across the Valley. We want to get involved in things that are positive and make positive impacts,” Losch said. 

The girls learned about a variety of topics, including dispatching, human trafficking, firefighting basics, rappelling, CPR, building searches and defensive tactics. 

Maryn Calpin, 14-year-old Millennium High School student, said Aspire Academy has only reinforced her dream of becoming a special agent for the FBI. 

“I started watching a bunch of NCIS shows and I saw a documentary about it and thought it was super cool. And I have a really analytical brain, and I can do really good investigating. I just know I found my career,” Calpin said. 

The teen, who considers herself fearless, said she’s grateful for the chance to participate in something that will help her in her future career. 

“Once I told my mom that I wanted to be a special agent for the FBI, she went on a berserk rampage and said she was going to go find every possibility there is for me out there. And so when she found this, it was perfect, then I applied and I got in. I was super excited,” Calpin said. 

After climbing a 100-foot ladder in full firefighter gear, Calpin said one of her favorite events of the weekend was the CPR training. 

The teenagers stayed three nights in accommodations provided by the Girls Scouts of Arizona and were transported to and from the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center daily.

All meals and snacks were provided, and everyone received shirts, shorts, water bottles and swag along the way. Funding was provided by charitable donations made to the Girl Scouts of Arizona. 

“This is completely funded by partnerships and donations, there is no out of pocket cost in terms of the daily run portion. If the girls are able to pay the registration fee, I believe it’s only $125. And that’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, swag, T-shirts, gear, time, experience. We didn’t want the cost to be a factor for anybody. We wanted everyone that wanted to be here to be here so we worked really hard to fundraise and make that happen,” Losch said. 

Moving forward, Losch said the hope is to switch off with other departments and host Aspire Academy in the West Valley for years to come. 

“This is all for them. We want to build confidence in these girls and make these four days something that they’ll never forget,” she said. 

Aspire Academy information can also be found on Facebook and Instagram @AspireAcademyAz.