By Tamas Mondovics

Students with the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) Summer Youth Academy had a chance to get their feet wet this summer—literally—while training in water rescue operations during the conclusion of this year’s summer camp.

As part of their training, the 26-participating cadets, ages 14-17, were probed with simulated swimmer in distress and unresponsive victim scenarios at the Resort and Club at Little Harbor located at 536 Bahia Beach Blvd. in Ruskin.

According to HCFR officials, the event helped the young cadets gain practical, hands-on experience in water safety and rescue, all under the direction of the members of the Marine Rescue team (Boat 17) from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s Station 17.

“The Summer Youth Academy is an intense, two-week summer camp that gives participants hands-on experience while being supervised by Fire Rescue personnel,” said HCFR Spokesperson Jessica Coy.

During the two-week-long camp, firefighting skills were used as the vehicle for engaging youth in a series of classroom and interactive activities designed to build character, develop leadership skills and enhance vocational career.

“The program is intended to generate career interest in at-risk middle and high school students to become the nation’s next firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics,” Coy said.

HCFR officials are confident in the camp’s success, which concluded with a cadet graduation ceremony, which congratulated and recognized the young cadet’s willingness to do their best as well as inspiring the instructors.

“The intent of our program is to mentor the cadets,” said Division Chief of Training Robert Collins, who added, “the instructors are equally inspired by the cadet’s resilience, positive outlook and desire to succeed in life. We look forward to watching them grow; they will always be a part of the HCFR family.”

The HCFR President Ronnie Rivera emphasized that a special thanks must go out to all of the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue instructors that made camp a success.

“Their dedication and effort will help make a difference in the lives of these youth,” Rivera said.

For more information about the HCFR Summer Youth Academy, call 209-0097 or go to

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