Local Impact: Camp HERO


During the month of July, adolescent and teenage girls from across the nation and beyond converge in Madison for a unique opportunity. Despite being from different states and backgrounds, these young women all have one thing in common, to learn more about careers in the emergency services. The girls come to Madison to attend CampHERO, an experiential summer camp that provides hands-on training in firefighting, law enforcement, and EMT careers. Among all of the strong, empowered role models at CampHERO, the YMCA was proud to be represented by two of our Lifeguards from our West and Northeast Y's who volunteered to educate campers about water safety and rescue.

On Tuesday, July 14, Katie H. and Sarah R. were able to share their knowledge and passion with 25 young women from as far away as Venezuela! Having both extensive lifeguard training and experience as YMCA swim instructors, Katie and Sarah were able to connect with and engage the campers. “Most of the girls have interest in being Police Officers, EMTs, or Firefighters after they graduate high school,” said Sarah, “They were very well behaved and interested in what we were teaching.” During the lifesaving portion of camp, Sarah and Katie demonstrated and taught a variety of lifesaving and rescue skills:

  • Lifeguard water entries
    • Learn about and determine the appropriate water entry (depending on the condition of the victim, depth of the water, etc.)
    • Slide-in (for suspected Neck, Back, or Spinal injuries)
    • Compact Jumps (for water less than 5 feet deep)
  • Active Victim Rescues
    • Front Approach (when the victim if facing the lifeguard)
    • Rear Approach (when the victim is facing away from the lifeguard)
  • Passive Victim Rescue
    • Rescuing when the victim is face-down on the surface of the water and seems unconscious
  • Spinal Backboarding
    • Learn how to rescue and remove a passive drowning victim from a pool who has a suspected neck-back-spinal injury.


Beyond the physical demonstrations, girls also learned about EAP's (Emergency Action Procedures), what drowning victims actually look like (vs what you see in the movies), and finished up with a Q&A session.


We are proud to have incredible role models like Katie and Sarah amidst our Y staff and are appreciative for the opportunity to be involved in CampHERO.  Experiences like this can motivate and inspire young women, propelling them toward achieving their goals. For more information about lifeguarding or other water safety opportunities at the Y, please visit https://ymcadanecounty.org/swim-lifeguard