Students practice preparedness at camp

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(Left to right) Zoe Batchelor, Cody Herron, Ashley Beth Jones, Kristine Easterling, Kaitlyn Prima, Kobe White, Braden LaRocca, Gabe Wilson and Seth Harris were among 13 sixth graders from Chilton County chosen to participate in the seventh annual Be Ready Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Thirteen sixth graders from Chilton County applied for and were selected to attend the seventh annual Be Ready Camp this month at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Local students were Kristine Easterling, Jeffery Herron, Zoe Batchelor, Nicholas Johnson, Kaitlyn Prima, Ashley Jones, Cody White, Braden Larocca, Seth Harris, Matthew Burkhalter, Gabriel Wilson, Gannon Jackson and Baylie Vinson.

They joined dozens of other students from Alabama public schools for the five-day, full-immersion, residential camp, which consisted of two sessions during National Preparedness Month in September.

The camp is provided by the Alabama State Department of Education (SDE), Serve Alabama (the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service) and the Alabama Department of Homeland Security (ALDHS).

Marguerite Long, emergency preparedness coordinator of Serve Alabama, said the camp aims to instill leadership and service skills in youth.

Gannon Jackson, left, a student at Jemison Middle, and Baylie Vinson, right, a homeschooled student in Clanton, display their certificates from the camp.

“Be Ready Camp is all about getting out there and being involved in your community,” Long said. “The kids are the ones that are able to retain information. They are like sponges. Kids are our futures.”

Be Ready Camp curriculum includes emergency preparedness, first aid, triage, water survival, terrorism awareness and other related topics.

On the final night of camp, students participate in a mock disaster and work with first responders in response to a simulated plane crash.

Long said students graduate from the camp as Youth Preparedness Delegates and receive a signed commendation from Gov. Robert Bentley.

Sarah Jackson said her daughter, Gannon, a sixth grader at Jemison Middle School, enjoyed her Be Ready Camp experience.

“She loved learning how to do triage and access victims and first aid,” Jackson said. “Disaster preparedness—that was right up her alley. They had a blast.”

According to information dispersed by the state Department of Education, the pilot September 2006 Be Ready Camp received national media attention, including coverage from CNN, and it was highlighted on the webpage of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a model for the nation.

“The prestigious Be Ready Camp is an awesome opportunity for sixth graders to learn about community preparedness, first aid and so much more,” Jackson said. “Everybody is just really excited about it.”