WINTHROP – Girl Scouts from Omak, Okanogan and the Methow Valley learned about smokejumping Sept. 14 during a visit to the North Cascades Smokejumper Base.
Girls from kindergarten age to the ninth grade participated, said leader Stephanie Bedard.
“When we arrived we found out it was their 80th anniversary,” she said. “The girls got to meet past and present smokejumpers.”
The girls watched a drill: An alarm sounded and the jumpers got into their gear, had it checked and did the preflight check and then took off in a plane.
“We then got to witness five smokejumpers jump,” said Bedard. “The girls loved it. They really had fun when the plane did a low pass over them and released the flagging used to test the wind for them.”
The girls got to tour the plane and ask questions.
One asked if the jumpers had graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows with them.
“Being that the Girl Scouts created s’mores, this was too cute,” Bedard said.
The was told that sometimes the jumpers will bring stuff like that, but that their packs are so heavy they need to be careful not to bring too much.
Another asked how many women are smokejumpers and was told roughly 6-8 percent, and they must adhere to the exact same physical tests that the men do.
Another asked how they did not barf. She was told they sometimes do and that is why they have certain bags that they carry.
The tour ended with the girls and a couple of leaders competing in parachute races.
Bedard said the girls had fun and were impressed to find out there were female smokejumpers. They talked about how neat it is that woman are able to do more and more jobs that people used to think were just for men.