At Camp Blaze, young women fight wildfires and stereotypes

Campers Sophia Brodie-Weisberg, second from left, and Reilly Walsh, second from right, receive instruction on wildland firefighting at Camp Blaze on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 in North Bend, Wash. The summer camp includes teen girls ages 16-19 who learn from female instructors what it takes to be a firefighter. Campers rappel off of buildings, smash car windows, simulate rescues and deploy wildland fire shelters. (Photos by Sarah Hoffman/Crosscut)

In the mountains of North Bend, Washington, Camp Blaze hosts a group of teenage girls who choose to spend their summers putting out fires — literally. They also rappel off tall buildings, smash car windows and use the jaws of life in simulated rescues, haul heavy firehoses across the pavement, and learn how to cocoon themselves in thin plastic shelter bags.

Many hope to one day save a burning building or forest, but Camp Blaze does more than just teach what it takes to be a firefighter. By pushing campers to their physical and emotional limits, veteran female firefighters are sharing lessons of empowerment and strength that girls can use everywhere.

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