For three days, Roanoke County Fire and Rescue is teaching kids not only fire-fighting skills but lessons of character too.

The Character Academy wrapped up on Friday, with students going for a swim at Splash Valley and participating in a tour at the Emergency Communications Center (or 911 center) at the Public Safety Center in Roanoke. Students ate pizza with the Fire and Rescue administration and headed back to the Fort Lewis station for a graduation ceremony.

Training is a critical part of becoming a firefighter or EMT. These 10 to 11 year olds are getting a taste of what it takes to become one at the Character Academy

"You get to experience what the firefighters get to do in real life," camper Kobey Simon said.

25 middle school students are running drills like the bucket brigade and scaling down a five story fire training tower.

"The bucket relays is from fire fighting days way back, a kind of historical view of firefighting," Public Educatoin Specialist Brian Clingenpeel said.

You might be wondering, what does riding a zip line have do with learning character?
"Again, it's fun. It's also a technique by fire and rescue, but they've got to trust. They've go to trust the guys who set up the zip line," Clingenpeel said.

Not only are the students having fun, they're learning traits essential for success in life. They're learning about character, responsibility, citizenship, trustworthiness, caring, and fairness.

It's the ninth year for the camp and each year, Roanoke County Fire and Rescue think the best way to teach those qualities is for students to work alongside the experts.

"We feel like it's important that they work side by side with firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics to get to know them and act like mentors. It helps them to see positive character traits in them as well," Clingenpeel said.

Future heroes are in the making in Roanoke County.

The camp is held annually and costs $30.