2009-07-09 / Local & State

Firemen Plan Youth "Dream Weekend"

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Organizers of the Mc- Connellsburg Volunteer Fire Co.'s first "Dream Weekend" are confident the event scheduled for late July will serve multiple purposes but will first and foremost give area youths a small taste of the daily life of a firefighter and medical responder.

Modeled after special events already held by the Marion Fire Co. and surrounding companies, McConnellsburg's Dream Weekend '09 is set for July 24 through July 26 at the firehall. The event is open to 16 preregistered youths falling between the ages of 12 and 16. Twelve of those seats, according to company member Chip Keebaugh, have already been filled.

Keebaugh stated local company officials began meeting with representatives from the Marion Fire Co. back in April to get the planning stage under way. The opening night will include both registration and an orientation period for participants to become acquainted with the facility.

Training sessions tentatively include CPR and first aid as well as demonstrations and stations with the Stat Medevac, Pennsylvania State Police and the Marion Fire Co. All necessary gear and equipment will be provided to the participants during Dream Weekend.

"We're hoping the kids will see and understand what we (firefighters) do on a daily basis," said Keebaugh. "It could also boost membership with the junior fire company as becoming a company member is a perfect way for an individual wanting a career as a medic or firefighter to receive advance training."

Keebaugh indicated his personal desire for wanting to offer this event on an annual basis stems from his own childhood and background. "My biggest goal is getting kids off the streets, away from drugs and alcohol and the bad decisions they can make," he said. " ... Based on the reaction we receive, we would like to expand the event in 2010."

The Dream Weekend will not be limited to basic training, however, as plenty of fun activities are being scheduled for the kids. In addition to games ranging from the hose relay and bucket brigade, a getaway trip to Cluggy's Family Amusement Center in Chambersburg for go-cart rides and miniature golf is also planned. Cluggy's, added Keebaugh, has generously provided the company with discounted rates and freebies during the visit. Movies will also be shown nightly featuring classic firefighting flicks such as "Backdraft" and "Ladder 49."

The biggest issue for the company to date has been securing sponsors to help with the event, noted Keebaugh. Among those already offering assistance has been Eddy's Engraving & Gifts with a top cadet trophy; Jimmie's Pizza and Lincoln Way Pizza with refreshments, Dana's Signs with event T-shirts; and approximately 20 fire extinguishers from Jones' Fire Extinguishers for use during training exercises.

"If it weren't for the sponsors none of this would be possible," Keebaugh concluded. Anyone wishing to make a donation or serve as a sponsor is should to contact Keebaugh at 717-414- 9588.

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