Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


June 13, 2014

21st Century Fire Squad, Students learn from rangers about fire safety

GLASGOW — The 21st Century Summer Camps are well underway, and this week 11 students attended the Hot Shots CAVEservation Camp at Mammoth Cave National Park.

The camp, which ran from June 9 to June 12, was all about fire. Students learned how to build fires, the difference in wild fires and prescribed fires and fire safety.

Park Rangers Jennifer Shackleford and Broderick Davis began each camp day, which started at 8 a.m., with a fire report. They read off current fires, both wild and prescribed, raging across the nation, and the students filled in the specific locations with a red marker on a large map of the U.S.

Students went hiking, where they observed previously prescribed fire locations within the park. A prescribed fire is a self-started fire that aims to lower detritus, which is organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.

They also learned about all of the components that are necessary to start a fire, and completed several experiments that were fire-related throughout the week.

Among the experiments were an observation of carbon dioxide using vinegar and baking soda, and one that involved placing beef liver inside of peroxide and watching how the enzymes were broken down. They also learned about weather, and how to determine humidity with using weather belt kits, and also made clouds inside of bottles.

Thursday was their final day of camp, and they kicked off the day with a boiling ice challenge. The students were broken into four groups, and were asked to pick out a few pieces of fire wood each and build a fire from scratch only using matches and kindling they found on the ground. Once they built the fire, they were to melt a can full of ice, and bring that water to a rolling boil. The first group to achieve this won a special prize.

“I want you guys to use all of the skills that you have learned throughout this week to complete this task,” Shackleford said before they began. “Think about the fire triangle; use your resourcefulness.”

In this scenario, Shackleford said she wanted students to imagine they were stranded in the woods and had nothing but a small box of matches and their surroundings to work with.

After the students collected their wood, they went to a pavilion where they each separated by group and started making their fires. Due to the rain this week, it was proving to be a difficult task, so Shackleford ran to her van.

In this hypothetical situation, Shackleford said, “Looks like some tourist left some newspaper!”

The students ran to collect paper for their respective groups, and then things really started cooking.

There were only three boys among the students attending camp, and they were in a group together. Ethan England, 12, of Glasgow, Anthony Kingrey, 12, of Glasgow, and Charlie Bell 12, of Glasgow, started out with an initial plan to try to melt the ice as much as possible while they got their fire going.

“We have made the fire pyramid, which will help us get all of the things a fire needs to survive,” England said. “Oxygen, fuel and heat are all needed and so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Kingrey kept encouraging the fire to, “Live, live, live!” as he fed it more and more kindling and paper.

The boys made their fire pyramid with the logs they’d collected. They gathered some kindling and used the newspaper to ignite the little sticks. After they had some decent embers going, they balanced their can of ice over the place in their fire where they could stand to get the most heat.

Then they just sat back and waited. After about 10 minutes, it was clear that their fire was quickly becoming the hottest.

Their ice began to melt, and steam started rising from their can. A little while after that, and they were boiling, making them the winners of the challenge.

“It worked because we started with small stuff, and got that going, then added the bigger stuff,” Bell said. “You can’t just go big first; you need something to build off of so it can grow.”

Shackleford said she loves her job because, being a former teacher, she still can have aspects of teaching, as well as being outdoor and experiencing nature. She said she hopes the students participating in camps like this will encourage them to be more interested in nature.

“There are a lot of really great opportunities in their backyard, so to speak,” Shackleford said. “We want them to have fun while also learning. Hopefully these activities also foster their want to be outdoors.”

This is the fifth year the Hot Shots camp has been active. June 23 to June 27, there will be a CAVEservation Water Wonders camp at Mammoth Cave National Park. During the camp, students will learn all about water, and how much water affects this region of Kentucky.

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