Summer is when many kids spend time with their friends, sleep in and relax. But one group of teenagers is spending a few days of their summer break challenging themselves.

“I don’t like doing the same thing over and over,” 18-year-old Amber Branch said. “With firefighting you can do something different every day, and help people while you’re at it—that’s my two favorite things.”

Branch and 14 other girls are taking part in a four-day firefighting camp called Camp Ember. The camp is a collaboration between the West Metro Fire Department, the Arvada Fire Department and Red Rocks Community College. It is free to participants.

“We just wanted to give girls the opportunity to see what the fire service is about--to see if it’s something for them,” said Brooke Elder, who helped organize the camp, and is a firefighter and paramedic with Arvada Fire. “But we’re really hoping just to boost confidence, show them leadership skills, communication, strength, courage—all the things that are involved with the fire department.”

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that around four percent of the firefighting force nationwide are women. Organizers said they are holding the camp not only to boost interest—but also to boost confidence.

“I was always told by my mother that I could do whatever I wanted to do,” Elder said. “I want to make sure that young girls know that they can do whatever they want to do.”

The camp runs through Sunday, June 11. For more information on Camp Ember, go to their website: