Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Camp Molly inspiring young women to join the fire service

By CFF Staff   

Features Employment and hiring Indigenous

Photo credit: Camp Molly

Camp Molly has expanded its presence across Canada, now offering its four-day free experience for women and non-binary youth to explore a career in the fire service in 10 different cities. Camps will be hosted across three provinces, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, and three of those camps will specifically be for Indigenous youth.

The camp provides an opportunity for those aged 15 to 18 to meet and engage with strong female role models in their community. The free four-day experience relies on sponsorship and donations from the community and fire service organizations.

Monique Belair, president of Camp Molly, began the camp in the Halton Region in 2019 when she was a deputy fire chief for the Oakville Fire Department.

“To date, the support has been overwhelming and none of that would be possible without the hundreds of fire service professionals volunteering their time and generous support of donors to fund the camp and all associated activities,” said Belair.

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Continued support is needed to fund the expansion of Camp Molly, where campers learn about the many branches of the fire service, including fire suppression, auto extrication, fire prevention, forcibly entry, firefighter survival, fire investigations, medical operations, public education, communications, and media relations.

There are also lunch and learn sessions with guest speakers on cyberbullying, positive self-image and mental health.

“It has been the vision that this camp had the capacity to grow beyond our provincial borders to have a positive impact worldwide,” Belair said. “Camp Molly continues to support those most marginalized in the fire service to ensure that all attending know that the fire service is a career for them.”

Jen Keller, a pre-fire service student at Durham College, attended Camp Molly in 2022 when she was in Grade 11. She learned about the camp through a radio ad.

“Fire fighting has always been something that I’ve been interested in. You see the big red truck and it’s just really cool,” Keller said. “I didn’t really know if it was what I wanted to do, but it was always in the back of my mind, so this helped me solidify that idea that this is what I want to do.”

When she got to the camp, she was really excited to learn different things about fire fighting and the fire service in general. She also found camaraderie in her peers.

“You get to hang out with people who end up becoming your best friends, led by all volunteers who are just amazing firefighters or are in the fire services. Overall, it was an amazing experience.”

Keller returned in 2023 to volunteer as a team captain, and this year she is on the board to assist with the Indigenous camps. She hopes to attend as many camps as she can.

Currently, registration is open for the camps in Vaughan and Kingston in Ontario, and in White City and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan. The camps in Kingston and Prince Albert are for Indigenous youth only.

“The support has been overwhelming and none of that would be possible without the hundreds of fire service professionals volunteering their time and the generous support of donors to fund the camp and all associated activities,” Belair said. “Our expansion to date in such a short time only substantiates the necessity for Camp Molly to exist and the need for it to continue with the momentum it has.”

For more information about Camp Molly, or to register for a camp, visit https://www.campmolly.ca/.


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