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No financial barriers to participate in this summer’s Camp Molly

Deputy Chief Nathan Melin said the city would work with youths to ensure they have the proper footwear and transportation to take part in this year’s Camp Molly, a girls’ firefighter camp

With Greater Sudbury’s inaugural girls’ firefighter camp taking place this summer, city officials have clarified that finances should not be a barrier to participation.

Ward 9 Deb McIntosh raised the issue of accessibility during this week’s community and emergency services committee meeting of city council.

“Every young woman regardless of their socioeconomic background” should be allowed to participate, she said, drawing attention to the need for Camp Molly’s participants to have steel-toed footwear and daily transportation to and from the site. 

“We are looking at, because of our geographic area and how large it is, possibly having and working with transit to provide busing for it,” Deputy Chief Nathan Melin said, later adding that a central drop-off location could be established to connect with transit lines.

No prospective participant will be disqualified because they don’t have proper footwear.

“We would work with them to make sure we find the proper (personal protective equipment),” he said. 

Camp Molly is free of charge to participants, with various camps set up throughout the province to teach girls and young women aged 15-18 the ins and outs of various careers in firefighting.

This is the first year Sudbury has been included in the rotation of camps, and Camp Molly president Monique Belair told that Greater Sudbury Fire Services’ leadership has been “tremendous in their support of this camp.” 

Sudbury’s inaugural Camp Molly will take place from Aug. 24-27, with each day’s activities beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m., with the last day ending at 3 p.m. 

The deadline to register for Sudbury’s Camp Molly is July 17, and the online registration form is available by clicking here

“Adding diversity to the fire service is always a good thing, and with some of the challenges we’ve had with recruitment in the past, this is an opportunity looking outside of the box,” Melin said. 

The end goal will be for fire services to no longer be considered a non-traditional role for women, he said, adding that even those who don’t pursue firefighting careers should receive a boost in self-confidence as a result of their participation in the camp.

The camp includes training in not only fire suppression, but also auto extrication, communications, fire prevention, fire investigations, public education, media relations, medical, forcible entry and firefighter survival.

“There are some tough challenges, very physical out there, but through the encouragement of all participants, all coaches ... everyone completes all tasks that are there,” Melin said, adding that participants will accomplish things they go into the camp not believing they could do.

Participants will be broken into seven groups of five during the day camp, with every group coached by a female firefighter.

The camp will conclude with a graduation ceremony, which will include a keynote speaker.

With Greater Sudbury in need of more volunteer firefighters, Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini asked Melin what’s being done to educate boys and young men about firefighting, as well.

“I am meeting with the volunteer recruitment committee this week, and those are some of the ideas,” Melin said, adding that a camp for young people of all genders is a possibility.

Camp Molly is named after Molly Williams, who was a slave in 1818 when she became the first female firefighter with Oceanus Engine Co. 11, in Lower Manhattan. She is known for answering a call to duty when all of the male firefighters became sick with influenza. 

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for