Alumna’s Earliest Memories Were of Summer Camp
“I was basically born into Camp Fire,” said Riley Ball. “My mom was a Camp Fire kid.”
In fact, her mother, Tracy Taitch, turned her love of the organization into a career. When Riley was born, Tracy was serving as a Camp Fire District Director. In addition, she served as Camp Fire Inland Northwest Camp Dart-Lo Director for 15 years before retiring in 2007.
Riley’s earliest memories were of Camp Dart-Lo. Located on 51 acres, the day camp offered endless opportunities for fun and exploration. “I was there every weekday during the summer from the time I was barely able to walk,” Riley said. “It was my home.”
Riley enjoyed the outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, and archery, but what she most appreciated was that Dart-Lo was a place where every kid felt welcomed and accepted.
Riley worked hard to achieve Camp Fire milestones (including earning a Wohelo Award), but what she really looked forward to was the day she’d become acamp counselor. However, just when that goal was in sight, she learned that due to budgetary constraints, the council wouldn’t be operating the camp at Dart-Lo in 2012.The news was devastating.
Riley and her mother discussed possible solutions. Tracy offered to serve as camp director on a volunteer basis. She and Riley requested—and received—permission from the council to offer two weeks of camp with a volunteer staff.
With council approval, Riley, at 16, took an active role in recruiting staff and planning and navigating complex logistics. She found five Horizon members from her own Camp Fire Club to spend two weeks cleaning the main lodge, outbuildings, trails, fire pits, and swimming pool.
The camp was a resounding success, but Riley didn’t rest on her laurels. Instead, she looked ahead to the next summer. She and her fellow volunteers
planned several fundraising events that brought campers, family, and friends back to camp. They hosted Ghosts, Goblins, and Goodies Day for Halloween, Pluto Play Day, Nacho Bar Day with a live band, and a pancake feed.
These activities secured enough donations for Riley’s team of volunteers, with help from council staff, to be able to open Camp Dart-Lo for five weeks last summer. “This year will be our third summer running Dart-Lo on a volunteer basis,” Riley said.
Her commitment hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2012, Riley received the Unity in the Community Outstanding Youth Leader Award. Riley recently graduated from high school and also received an associate’s degree from Spokane Falls Community College.
Her mother’s passion for Camp Fire sparked a flame in Riley that still burns brightly. “I truly believe that Camp Fire played a large role in shaping me,” she said. “I learned to work with others, and how to feel comfortable in my own skin.” Fortunately, Riley’s spark will assure future generations of youth the same opportunity she had…to become a Camp Fire kid.