How we moved Camp Fire forward in 2021: Part 1

Can you believe it? We’re staring down the last days of 2021. If you are asking yourself two simultaneous questions—Wait, I thought it was still 2020? and Shouldn’t we be in the 2030s by now?—you are not alone. It’s been a weird one, friends. Weird, hard and…good? 

Meditating on shared accomplishments is an important reflection practice that can be helpful when stress, trauma and change messes with our experience of time. Remember all the way back in January, when Camp Fire unveiled our new five-year vision? We’ve made some significant progress towards our goals this year; let’s check in with some Camp Fire staff to help us run through the highlights. 

Ben Matthews, Camp Fire’s Diversity and Inclusion Program Consultant, was at the frontlines of Camp Fire’s work toward our first three goals. Ben shared some of the important steps (or leaps!) Camp Fire has made in 2021: 

  • Camp Fire Columbia has continued to find funding and make physical improvements at camp to increase accessibility. ‘The Sherwood Project’ will replace eight of their existing cabins with fully accessible cabins that were designed through a series of focus groups with diverse groups of staff and campers. 
  • Several CAMPER (Camp Accessibility, Meaningful Participation and Equal Representation—a three-year initiative) camps had success in implementing gender-neutral restrooms and housing, and others will follow next summer.
  • Camp Fire developed new Learning Lab Professional Development courses on creating accessible and adaptable activities for youth with disabilities and working with young people with neuro-diversities. We’ve also provided professional development resources on equitable hiring and building inclusive and equitable workplace cultures.
  • Camp Fire is working to update and implement national DEI and access standards to ensure quality programming and access across the network.”
  • What’s Next? Ben shares: “We’re excited to say not only was the CAMPER grant renewed for another three years, but the amount was increased significantly to include a new cohort of summer camps and support to the entire network!”

  • “Camp Fire National Headquarters continues to prioritize learning and unlearning through bi-weekly DEI meetings where we discuss the histories and current effects of systems of oppression.
  • Camp Fire members are learning to name and own our place as individuals—and as an organization—who live within existing systems of oppression.
  • We are cultivating new community partnerships and ensuring voices of color are not only present, but elevated.
  • We are sharing power and resources through community partnerships and outreach.
  • As mentioned before, we have developed professional development resources for equitable hiring and building inclusive and equitable workplace cultures.”

  • “Our new Cultural Appropriation Self-Assessment tool for councils will help organizations start examining their local practices.
  • Our new Know Your Council’s History guide helps councils tell their full stories in context with what was happening with Indigenous and other communities of color at that time.
  • To end the use of culturally appropriated designs and practices, we created Make Your Mark, a youth-driven process to reimagine Camp Fire’s rewards and recognition process and items. 
  • Camp Fire has developed a guide (and live webinars) for our councils on reparations, mapping council assets, and cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with local Indigenous communities.”
  • What’s Next: Ben gives us a preview: “Non-appropriated replacement rewards and recognition items resulting from Make Your Mark will be released in 2022.”

Think that’s all Camp Fire accomplished in 2021? Nope. We’ve got updates on two more of our five essential goals: Honoring the power of young people with meaningful participation in decision-making and promoting environmental stewardship and action.

November 30, 2021

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