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BBBS day camp gives 'Littles' up close look at first responders

Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe hosts Ignite day camp at Midland firehall

A visit to the Midland firehall this week might have given one a glimpse of future first responders.

Throughout the past four days, Big Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe has been hosting a special day camp at the downtown building for close to a dozen “Littles,” aged 11 and up.

“This gives them an opportunity to see what our first responders do and see if that’s something they’d be interested in doing when they’re older,” explains Lee Anne Addley, mentoring coordinator with the local agency.

This is the second time the organization has held its Ignite day camp. The last occurred way back in 2019, something that was necessary due to the ongoing lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re hoping to offer it every two years,” Addley says. “For us, it’s just about providing additional opportunities. We try to bring close connections to them so they can figure out who they are and what their abilities are.

“It’s also an opportunity to get out and meet new people..”

This year’s effort was helped by a sizable donation from the Rotary Club of Midland and unlike the 2019 camp, this edition also featured participation from Simcoe County paramedics, who dropped by the firehall Friday.

The four-day camp began Tuesday and featured two days of fun with local firefighters and Chief Paul Ryan, which included the chance to go up the department’s aerial ladder and participate in various emergency simulations.

On Thursday, the OPP arrived with a visit from forensics team personnel in the morning and K-9 unit and swat team members in the afternoon.

Canine unit members Det.-Const. Brian Anderson and Bauer, a six-year-old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix, received a warm and eager welcome with plenty of great questions from camp participants about the pair’s routines.

“He lives with me and is always with me,” explains Anderson, who notes Bauer came to the force from Slovakia in 2017.

“If I’m on holidays, Bauer’s on holidays. I’m with Bauer all the time.”

Anderson went on to explain the different types of canines used by first responders, ranging from drug- and explosive-sniffing dogs to those employed to track and take down suspected criminals to dogs used in rescue and recovery operations.

“Bauer is a high-level athlete,” Anderson says as he shows off the 62-pound pup’s nimble physique. “He is all muscle, he is jacked.”

Day camp participant Maddy, 13, says the whole week has been a great experience and was particularly enthused with the K-9 team's visit.

"I think about going into policing and doing investigations and criminal work," the Victoria Harbour youth says. "I love dogs so would love to work with a dog like Bauer."

Anderson, who has worked in a variety of other policing units, including the criminal investigations branch, drug enforcement and intelligence, says working with Bauer is as good as it gets.

“I’ve done all kinds of things, but this is the best job ever,” he tells the group. “It’s a pretty fun job and I have a pretty good partner.”

Besides support from the first responders and Rotary Club, Addley said they also enjoyed great community support from the local businesses, including Harvey’s, which provided lunch to the participants, and A&W, which gave coupons to use at the Midland location.

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe, click here.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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