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Council Resources

Camp Fire Heartland Summer Camp Inspires Local Park Department

Early in the summer, the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department took a trip to Camp Fire Heartland Summer Camp. They were so impressed by the inspired youth, they filmed a promotional video. Take a look. You may find your own inspiration as we tuck the summer away and start anticipating next year, a mere 12 months away. http://youtu.be/qUtAMnLxLco

400 Students in Kansas City Soon to Learn Conflict Resolution Skills

Camp Fire Heartland has received a request to begin providing conflict resolution programming during the school day to over 400 students at James Elementary in Kansas City, Missouri. The opportunity came to Camp Fire thanks to the outstanding work the Heartland team delivered through a similar program at Garcia Elementary and Hartman Elementary, both in the Kansas City, Missouri, school district.

The school counselor the Heartland team worked with at Garcia now also serves as the counselor for James Elementary. Because of the results she'd experienced firsthand, she wanted to extend Camp Fire's good work to her new school.

Funding sources and partnerships are currently being explored, with a couple of strong prospects already identified.

Camp Fire First Texas Recognizes Value of Visibility

This past May, a publication on Camp Fire First Texas' Centennial was produced and distributed via the council's local business press. Currently, there are just under 10,000 subscribers to the publication–a nice audience for a smart, savvy council. Take a look, at http://issuu.com/campfirefw/docs/camp_fire_centennial_insert

Camp Issues on the Horizon

Every two years the American Camp Association (ACA) conducts a survey around issues important to a positive camp experience. Many Camp Fire councils are ACA-accredited and participate in the association's conferences and professional development.

A one-page Emerging Issues in Camp infographic highlights technology, parent communication, evaluation demands, increasing impact with special populations, and healthy habits.

Comprehensive results include:

  • Marketing issues and communication
  • Crisis management
  • Program and staff issues
  • Technology and social networks
  • Unique populations

Kennesaw State University's Research and Service Foundation and National Human Services Assembly enter co-marketing agreement

More than 50 member organizations composing the National Human Services Assembly's National Collaboration for Youth (NCY) will receive discounted subscriptions to online and print editions of Youth Today under a three-year marketing agreement signed in May.

Through the agreement, NCY's nonprofit youth development member organizations, which collectively serve more than 40 million young people nationwide, will gain volume-discounted access to the only national publication covering issues and providing information pertaining to youth and those who work with them.

Youth Today, published by the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University, daily releases the latest news headlines concerning youth and reports on the everyday challenges youth and youth workers face. The publication's solution-oriented reporting also sheds light on groundbreaking research into such topics as after-school programs, juvenile justice, adolescent health and nutrition, and job-training initiatives.

Under the terms of the agreement, Youth Today will offer the volume discounted subscription rate for NCY members and affiliates of $35 per year with an added $10 online access subscription for additional staff/volunteers at the same location as the initial subscription. Youth Today will also work with the NCY member organizations to assist in cobranding the discount offer so they can then market the offer to their own members.

Summer Slide Continues to Stymie

For more information on why youth are challenged by the relatively relaxed days of summer, Camp Fire has a couple sources of relevant reading.



Good News Update

We recently reported that Camp Fire Snohomish County was seeking funds to help the victims of the devastating mudslide that their area in Washington.

The council's goal was to provide scholarships for 120 children. According to Dave Surface, Executive Director, the goal was met.

The council has received (to date) $60,750 to send 120 Oso mudslide victims to a week of resident or grief camp at Camp Killoqua.

The donors include Camp Fire friends and families ($5,000), New York Life ($10,000), Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation ($21,000), and the Emergency Relief Fund managed by United Way ($24,750).

Bolingbrook, Illinois, Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Value of Local Camp Fire Council

Every year, the chamber selects one area nonprofit to support and champion. Over the next 12 months, chamber members not only will help raise money through events, they also will raise awareness and volunteer for the organization. This year, the Bolingbrook Illinois Chamber selected Camp Fire Illinois Prairie.

Michael Carpanzano, Executive Director of the chamber, said the association chose to work with Camp Fire because of its common mission. "Based on the fact that Camp Fire deals directly with youth development, we decided it aligned perfectly with our mission," he said. "Giving local youth professionals a platform to succeed is much like what Camp Fire does to the youth in our community."

When the council heard the news, they recognized the value of their good fortune. "Oh my gosh, we were just absolutely thrilled," said Stephanie Schiszik, CEO of Camp Fire Illinois Prairie. "I didn't know this kind of thing happened, so to get chosen for something I hadn't worked for is absolutely a great surprise."

The chamber chose the council partly due to its commitment to the community through camp experiences and school programs.

"Camp Fire Camp Kata Kani is a classic day camp," said Stephanie. "Children participate in archery, fishing, a low-ropes course, cookouts, and more. We don't allow any electronics and don't have a television set on the property."

The council's school programs include Kids on the Block, an interactive puppet program that highlights a different disability at each grade level and asks youth to start "No Put Down Zones" and to "Dare to Care." Self-Reliance, the other school program, also teaches elementary school youth about personal safety, stranger danger, resisting bullying, and positive peer relationships.

Grand Council Fires Steeped in Tradition

Grand Council Fires represent over 100 years of tradition and history. They not only honor the traditions from which Camp Fire was shaped, they provide an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Camp Fire youth, leaders, and advisors. Often Wohelo candidates are presented and those who have earned Presidential Service Awards are introduced.

Camp Fire Patuxent Area's Grand Council Fire will be lit May 31. The council's theme is Telling our Story. Clubs were asked to each select one young person to share their club's successes and why they love Camp Fire. Select alumni were also encouraged to share their Camp Fire experiences.

Camp Fire Central Oregon Helps Prevent "Summer Slide"

According to research, many kids often lose two months' worth of academic skills over the summer. In fact, trends indicate that students usually score lower on the same standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did at the end of the previous school year. This learning loss can cause kids to struggle in school and force teachers to spend months of valuable in-class time repeating last year's curriculum.

Moreover, research shows that "summer slide" has an even greater effect on youth from low-income families. One of the leading causes of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth, and the resulting lower high school graduation rate for students from low-income families, is unequal access to engaging summer opportunities.

Recognizing the trends, research, and studies were disturbing, Camp Fire Central Oregon decided to do something about it.

Since "summer slide" is generally attributed to kids' lack of engagement and activity throughout the summer, Camp Fire Central Oregon committed to offering an abundance of educational and enriching summer programs for kids of all ages with community funders helping provide numerous need-based scholarships.

The council was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by The Clabough Foundation. The council also receives ongoing support from both United Way and Every Kid Fund, a grant program through Deschutes Children's Foundation. Through Camp Fire's summer camp scholarships, all kids have equal access to high-quality summer programming and "summer slide" slips away.

First-Ever Peruvian Olympic Cross-Country Skier Speaks at Camp Fire Leadership Breakfast

First-Ever Peruvian Olympic Cross-Country Skier Speaks at Camp Fire Leadership Breakfast

Roberto Carcelen shared his story of strength and perseverance on his path to the Sochi Winter Olympics during Camp Fire Puget Sound's 21st Annual Leadership Breakfast.

All proceeds benefited the council's life-changing leadership and outdoor recreation programming that inspires kids of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are.

Welcome to the "Great Tana-re-doona"

Welcome to the Great Tana-re-doona

Article contributed from Chanhassen Villager, Chanhassen, MN

Camp Tanadoona's getting a facelift. In mid-May, workers began constructing a new entrance at Camp Fire Minnesota Camp Tanadoona. The new entrance and gate is part of the first phase of the council's capital improvement program. In addition to relocating and improving the entrance to the camp, phase one includes building three new overnight camper cabins and six new day camp cabin/shelters.

New Camp Expands Council's mission

Welcome to the Great Tana-re-doona

Marnie Wells, Camp Fire Minnesota CEO, pointed out the upcoming improvements to the entrance being especially important to their long-term planning. The entrance to the camp was moved down the road, farther to the west, to avoid the roadway's hill and limited visibility that made the former entrance more difficult for incoming and outgoing traffic. A new gate and security system will be installed, and the driveway will be divided to an entrance and an exit lane.

The capital improvements will also help Camp Tanadoona become better known as a community gathering place, not only in summer for Camp Fire programming, but for the greater communities surrounding it, including Chanhassen, Chaska, Carver, Victoria, Waconia, Excelsior, and Eden Prairie.

"We want it to be known not just as 'Camp Tanadoona' but as 'Tanadoona,'" Marnie said. "We're here for meetings and conferences, for the greater public to get to know us and use our facilities."

Welcome to the Great Tana-re-doona

The council launched its capital campaign in 2012, with the goal of raising $1.5 million for renovating and adding on to the current camp and its grounds. The addition of day camp cabins will enable expanded programming. The three new cabins for overnight campers will each accommodate 16 campers.

"Like the existing overnight cabins, they won't have electricity, no attached bathrooms," Kelly said. "We did focus groups when designing the master plan. The kids said, 'You're not putting electricity in there, right?'"

According to Kelly Abraham, Marketing and Communication Manager at Camp Fire Minnesota, the kids can arrive assured that the new cabins will continue the spirit of the camp's rustic nature, complete with no electricity.

Youth Impacted by Washington Landside Receive Free Week at Grief Camp

Thanks to Camp Fire and New York Life, families affected by the March 22nd mudslide in Snohomish County, Washington, will be getting a break this summer. Camp Fire Camp Killoqua is offering a free six-day grief camp experience to youth (in grades 2–12) who lost a family member as a result of the devastating event.

The camp, to be held June 21–26, is not the first grief camp Camp Fire has provided. "Camp Fire Snohomish County has been delivering the grief camp program since 1998 to children who have experienced loss," said Dave Surface, Executive Director of the council. "While these are unique circumstances, we have the experience and trained professionals needed to ensure this is a healing, magical week."

The project was made possible with support from New York Life. "They have been a tremendous support to Camp Fire, not only locally but nationally as well," Dave said. New York Life donated $10,000 towards the effort.

In addition, affected youth are encouraged to register for a weeklong resident camp session at Camp Killoqua in July or August. "We have had a truly amazing outpouring of support from United Way's Recovery Funds for mudslide relief and Camp Fire's network of families, donors, and friends," Dave said. "All of the support allows us to offer a safe haven for over a hundred youth to come, learn to understand their feelings, and just be kids."

Families and youth affected by the landslide should contact Carol Johnson at (425) 258-5437 or carol.johnson@campfiresnoco.org to register.

To donate to this effort, click here.

Year-End Ceremony Celebration

Year End Celebration

Grand Council Fire is Camp Fire Balcones' year-end ceremony, which recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of council youth from the past year. Parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends are encouraged to attend. This year, the ceremony took place during Camp Fire's annual spring campout in early April. Festivities began with the Grand Council Fire and concluded with a sing-along and s'mores.

Council leadership encouraged all participants and guests to honor and respect the solemnity and significance of the ceremony. Ceremonials are a Camp Fire tradition popular around the country. Each council has developed its own significant activities and songs used in ceremonials. Some reasons to hold ceremonials include:

  • Distributing beads and emblems.
  • Completing a grade-level award.
  • Celebrating a service project.
  • Celebrating a special event.
  • Hosting a camping trip.
  • Honoring Camp Fire friendships.
  • Celebrating family events.

$20,000 Grant Earned in Planned Giving Challenge

Camp Fire Green Country has earned a $20,000 grant in the Tulsa Community Foundation Planned Giving Challenge. The giving challenge encourages agencies to build an endowment account at Tulsa Community Foundation using planned gifts.

To qualify for the grant, the organization had to secure at least three donors and raise $100,000 in future gifts. "Camp Fire Green Country surpassed its goal," Executive Director Bobbie Henderson said.

"We feel so grateful for donors committed to ensuring that their support for quality youth development continues beyond their lifetime," Bobbie said. "A strong endowment not only provides regular income for current needs but also promotes the organization's future financial stability."

Council President Gayle Campbell praised Tulsa Community Foundation for the innovative program. "The challenge grants offer an incentive to donors that result in critical future financing."

Operation Kids Camp

Operation Kids Camp

Johnny McLaughlin, Executive Director of Camping Services, Camp Fire Inland Southern California, has a passion for opening doors of conversation. And he's most passionate about the doors that seem hardest to open—those between kids and parents who are either active or retired from the military.

Camp Nawakwa's Operation Kids Camp (OKC) is available to youth aged 8 to 14 who are members of active duty or retired military families. The camp is the only resident camp program serving military families in Southern California. Geographically, Camp Nawakwa is situated in an ideal location, being in close proximity to numerous military installations, such as Camp Pendleton, 32nd Street Naval Station, Fort Erwin, 29 Palms, Edwards AFB, and Nellis AFB. Last year—the first year of the camp-provided service—OKC served 30 youth. This year the goal is to serve 150.

Though the camp is specific to military families, the focus is grounded in the high-quality programming Camp Fire is uniquely capable of delivering. Kids leave with the 21st century competencies they'll need—critical thinking, communication, and social skills. The council's goal is for each child to return home with greater confidence and self-reliance. They also want kids to be refreshed by their experience—and then to bring that refreshment back to their families.

According to Johnny, "The real impact we have is providing a safe, nurturing environment for conversation and connection. From the connection of the kids, the entire family unit is invigorated."

The camp's foundation in the military creates a commonality for the campers. Johnny said, "Last year the kids had an absolute blast. Soldiers from nearby Fort Erwin brought over Humvees and gave the kids rides. Creating a "mock ambush" was lighthearted fun for everyone." Yet, conversation also turns to the tricky.

During the course of the week, the attending soldiers have an opportunity to do a question-and-answer session with the campers. From these visits, Johnny remembered questions from kids included, "What's more important, country or family?" and "Could you shoot a kid, even if they had a gun." "Yet," Johnny chuckled, "The very next question could be, 'Do you like peanut butter?'" Other benefits unique to OKC are having both male and female soldiers available for kids' questions. "It opens up the conversation for everyone," Johnny continued.

In years past, active military personnel served a single term of duty and then returned home to their family. Today, with multiple engagements, families have to cope with ongoing stress and challenge. Operation Kids Camp gives them a release valve.

This year, the camp will be held June 22–27, and the fee is $395. The multi-sibling discount (for any family sending more than one child) will be an additional 5 percent off per child. Camp Fire Inland Southern California will also provide a number of scholarships. The scholarship applications are available on the council's web page, www.campfiretoday.org.

Let's ALL Play Opens Up the Playground

2014 marks the third year of Camp Fire Green Country's partnership with the National Inclusion Project's Let's ALL Play initiative. The partnership provides additional training for Camp Fire camp staff in order to successfully engage and support youth with special needs or behavioral challenges.

Essential to this program are camp staffers designated as "inclusion buddies." These specially trained counselors provide individual assistance and attention to ensure that all youth enjoy a safe and healthy summer camp experience. One parent shared that "my children came home with a newfound independence and greater love for the outdoors. The additional support of a buddy counselor made camp easier for my son…his buddy was there when he needed extra time or a short break." This support is provided for all Camp Fire camps, as well as to the many summer camp user group partners. 

All overnight campers provide information regarding challenges, limitations, or disabilities in the areas of communication, participation, sensory, behavior, or physical disability so camp staff can ensure their comfort and inclusion in camp activities.

Camp Fire's goal is to allow all youth to experience everything summer camp has to offer!

For more information, visit www.tulsacampfire.org/camp or contact Camp & Outdoor Program Director Susan Bencke, at sbencke@tulsacampfire.org.

Kids Selling Candy
Camp Fire Central Coast of California Supports Operation HomeFront

Candy tastes extra sweet when sales support our troops. Pictured are members of Camp Fire Central Coast of California's adorable Candy Sale team.

Kids Selling Candy
Candy Helps Council with Important Programming

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound's Candy Sale is the cornerstone of the council's group programming, teaching critical skills, such as public speaking, budget management, and safety as well as persistence and motivation. Pictured are Camp Fire kids visiting a local radio station.

Council Name Changes

Camp Fire Heart of the Hawkeye has officially changed its name to Camp Fire Heart of Iowa. And...Camp Fire Central Coast is now Camp Fire Central Coast of California.

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