The last week of June, I was invited to Central Elementary School’s beach party to celebrate the final day of summer school.
Students were having a blast playing in water. Though I wasn’t aware when I was invited, the Union Fire Department was there spraying a hose into the air and creating quite a splash.
Later that day, I went to the final day of the Osage District Cub Scout Camp. Per tradition, the Union Fire Department also attended this event for a similar afternoon of playing in the water.
Scouts lined up at the edge of the park as they waited for the hose to be connected. Once it was, they ran through the water, danced and roughhoused together. They got muddy, laughed and screamed — it was just as summer should be.
I was standing safely on the sidewalk taking photos when one Cub Scout ran toward me and another adult screaming “This is the best day ever!”
It brought me back to the year I spent at Camp Washington, where the fire department spray-down also was an annual tradition so many years ago.
I got to wondering, do fire departments everywhere do this? I spent the last few weeks asking people of all ages who didn’t grow up in Franklin County if they remember a similar tradition.
For the most part, they don’t. One person, who grew up in New York, remembered fire department officials bringing their trucks by and opening a fire hydrant for the children to play in.
Everyone else I asked, from small and large communities alike, said they don’t remember this for themselves or for their children if they weren’t from this area.
I guess what I’m getting at is that we’re spoiled. Our fire departments and firefighters are awesome. They don’t have to be at events for entertainment, but they are, year in and year out. They make summers special and teach children a thing or two about fire safety every chance they have.
They could be doing anything else, but instead they’re spraying down hundreds of giddy children. I doubt the camp spray-downs are part of their contract, but they choose to build relationships with children and with the community.
I can speak from experience that it’s something they’ll remember for a lifetime.