Camp Blanding Part II

We came, we saw, we conquered.  You may remember my first Camp Blanding post.  The first Blanding experience was life changing and I couldn’t wait to get back for part two.  Most of the class came back so it was great to get to see them again and we made some new friends from the Caymans, Hendry County, Nassau County, and the State of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management among others.  The best part for me was to see how much we’ve grown since we went to the fall training session.  We had a better idea of what to expect (bring your own linens if you want to sleep well, find a buddy with a grill so you don’t have to eat out every night, and wear business casual or response clothes to class for starters) and had a good daily rhythm established by the core group that our new friends complemented well.

When my bosses send me off to this type of training, they always say, “have fun, learn something, and MAKE FRIENDS.”  That last part is the most important.  Our field relies on solid working relationships that are only strengthened after you can share a laugh (or snort if you’re Nick) after we’ve closed the books for the day.  When a disaster strikes, you can only throw so many resources at the problem before you run out of stuff or burn out your staff.  Calling on your emergency management friends for mutual aid is crucial.

This session was a bit different since we didn’t have a functional exercise or a team building session on the low ropes course to get us out of the classroom.  We sat through 9 days of powerpoints and group activities.  Occasionally one or more of us had to run out of the room to watch a severe weather webinar that concerned our counties or respond to an emergency call back home over the phone.  It’s getting harder and harder for us all to get away for longer training sessions since we’re becoming more helpful and independent back at our jobs so I’m really thankful that we could finish the Basic Academy as quickly as possible.

Here are some photos of this year’s fun:

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Don rocked his mouse ears during group briefings 🙂
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We called in on a depression response in which a pug got stuck in the hole.  Thankfully, the pug was just fine!  Well done, Gilchrist County Fire Rescue & Emergency Management and their partners from the University of Florida VETS organization.
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In case you didn’t know, I have the best bosses ever.  They sacrificed their personal time on a Sunday to drive a six hour round trip and instruct our class for a few hours.  Premier!

Oh boy did we eat well this time around!  We returned to G’s BBQ in Middleburg and grilled out most nights, thanks to Ralph from Gilchrist for bringing his grill.  We also returned to Yume Fusion in Middleburg for sushi.  Finally, we checked out Boondocks Bar & Grill in Green Cove Springs, which is very new and awesome.

Finally, I can’t write a Blanding blog post without a selfie from this goofball.  Miss you already, bestie!  Thanks for loading my phone with more meme-quality photos!!IMG_0810

P.S. Daisy was well taken care of by Kate and Ian over at a A Tail of Two Puppies.  She, Lexi, and Aurora had quite a morning when the storms rolled through.  Check it out!

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