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Camp Courage expands across Canada

March 26, 2021
By Maz Atta

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Halifax’s Camp Courage is expanding their first responder camps across Canada.

The camp initiative, which runs from two to eight days, is designed to introduce young women aged 15 to 19 to careers as first responders, primarily paramedics, police officers, and firefighters. Each camp serves up to 24 women.

Camp Courage’s founder, Andréa Speranza, is looking for interested volunteers to start their own Camp Courage community anywhere in Canada. Camp Courage will provide resources like a business plan, marketing plan, guides, and other means to creating a successful community.

“You will need a team of 10 or 30 committed volunteers, facilities, equipment and $5,000 to $30,000 depending on the program duration and level of donations in kind,” Camp Courage wrote in a recent press release.

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Speranza said she is looking forward to sharing her experiences with aspiring first responders across Canada. She said Camp Courage is much more than just preparing them for the job.

“This isn’t just about teaching these young ladies about emergency services careers; it’s about developing our future leaders across the country,” Speranza said.

The operations captain added that several graduates from her camp were inspired to start their own camp. This motivated her to provide the resources needed to “make this opportunity available for every woman in the country.”

Camp Courage also implemented a bursary program for their graduates to help make starting their own camp a smooth and safe experience. Speranza said she knows how much time and money it costs to start a camp from scratch. That’s why she insisted on creating a “very calculated plan” that everyone can use.

“It is difficult to do all these things on your own if you have no background in business or marketing. We’re giving them everything they need to be successful.”

Speranza noted that having multiple camps nationally can help support training for fire departments.

Camp Courage’s national expansion is not about making money, Speranza said. The program is 100 per cent volunteer, free to register, and all camp proceeds go towards the program.

The announcement came at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on women’s careers in the labour force. Recently, the Canadian Press reported that “1.5 million women lost jobs due to the pandemic.” CBC News reported: “Women’s participation in labour force reached the lowest level in three decades due to COVID-19,”

Yet, the pandemic only encouraged Camp Courage to expand nationally and to represent more women in the emergency services industry. Speranza said that some people are already interested in New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Calgary. The next camp will go live in July 2022.

“COVID has knocked the snot out of women,” Speranza said. “Rather than being sad that COVID has caused us to cancel Camp Courage, we are glad that it created the opportunity to expand nationally.”