Newtown Township - It wasn't record-breaking heat, but it was on the hot side as the mercury played a game of cat and mouse with the 90s.
So as firefighters Joe Martindell and Scott Ratcke arrived at the Newtown Elementary School, eager youngsters from Camp Newtown ready for this year's "wet down" rushed to greet the fiery red engine, which glistened in the late June sun.
As the Newtown firefighters hooked up a hose line to a fire hydrant, the kids watched every movement with unbridled enthusiasm, almost in a hypnotic stare.
Suddenly, a loud horn split the hazy afternoon air sending the 160 campers scrambling into the school's parking lot as they braced themselves for the soaking of their young lives.
Moments later the deck gun on top of Engine 55-1 was shooting a stream of water high into the air above the lot filled with campers sending a mist like rain falling onto the kids below. Puddles quickly formed as the youngsters jockeyed to find the best spot for the best drenching.
While the kids positioned themselves at Ground Zero of the splash down, many of their counselors, along with this reporter, maneuvered to stay dry, which quickly became an almost futile undertaking.
Martindell later joked that their strategy was to get the counselors wet. "Not really," he adds. "We try to get them all wet. We try to spread the wealth," he laughed.
Even the firefighters got wet this year.
"We've done this so much we're pretty good at staying dry. Not this year," said Martindell, adding, "The wind kicked our butts."
Meanwhile as the torrents of water fell from above, youngsters screamed with utter joy, some with their arms outstretched toward the sky as if to say, "Bring it on."
The boys splashed through the puddles with youthful abandon while the girls timidly huddled in groups, suddenly scattering and letting out loud screams as a torrent of water fell in their direction.
The complete and utter dowsing continued for a good 20 minutes until the firefighters powered down the stream, unhooked the nozzles and mopped up the engine.
But they didn't leave without first receiving a big round of applause and shouts of appreciation from the sopping wet campers.
The wet down, provided as a public service by the local firefighters, has become a much anticipated event at Newtown summer camps throughout the township and an experience that the kids won't soon forget.
"The kids love it. They go nuts," confirmed Martindell. "It's awesome to watch them. They have so much fun, especially when it's hot. It keeps them cool and it gives them some excitement. And we're happy to do it as a community service."