LAND O'LAKES, Fla. — For the first time, Pasco County Schools is offering a range of summer camps for students known collectively as "Camp Quest."

Among them is the Early Educators Camp, which offers guidance on careers in education as well teaching campers baby-sitting and important life-saving skills. 

  • Camp open to grades 6-12 for 2 weeks
  • Other Camp Quest offerings include culinary arts, STEM activities
  • More Pasco County news

Carlotta Mathis, an enrichment specialist with the district’s after school enrichment program, said the focus of each of the camps was chosen with the help of a survey sent to parents.

“Baby-sitting, life skills was one of the top priorities on our survey,” Mathis said. “The parents wanted to see the kids learning CPR and first aid. They wanted to be comfortable leaving their children home alone or even if they’re baby-sitting siblings.”

The camp is open to grades 6-12 and runs for two weeks. They learn the basics of how to care for young children and babies, but they also walk away certified in life-saving skills like CPR, first aid, and how to use an AED.

More than one camper told us that was a main draw.

“That was very important to me, not only because we have to have that to certify in the program, but just so if I’m baby-sitting or watching my cousins and something happens, I know what to do,” said Mackenzie Neary, a 12th grade student going into her fourth year in Land O’ Lakes High School’s early childhood education program. 

“I felt like it would be something good to know," said Princess Taull, another senior Land O’ Lakes student in the program. "You never know what’s going to happen in life. It’d be a good thing to be safe with.” 

On Monday, students practiced CPR on baby and adult mannequins. Mathis, a Red Cross-certified instructor in CPR, first aid, and baby-sitting, walked students through how to perform chest compressions and rescue breathing.

Those are skills she said she had to put to use before becoming an instructor, but after learning CPR herself. Mathis said she was visiting in-laws when a child fell head first into a bucket of water.

“I’m thankful that I was trained in that and that I knew what to do," she said. "I was very nervous. You’re scared, but you do what you have to do. It was nothing for me to pull that child out of that bucket of water and start doing CPR on that child."

While a number of campers said they want to pursue careers in education, Madilyn Horn, 13, said she wanted to come to camp for personal reasons.

“I am the oldest sibling and one of the older cousins, so it’s always nice to just have that knowledge so in case something does happen when I’m watching them, I know what to do,” she said. 

Other camps being offered as part of Camp Quest are culinary arts camps, a camp focused on careers on health care, and one where campers get to take part in STEM activities.