Brooke Frickleton has a pretty classic Camp Fire alumni story: With a Camp Fire leader mom and an older sister already in the program, Brooke joined her local group in kindergarten. Part of Camp Fire Central Puget Sound, Brooke grew up with a tight core group of fellow Camp Fire members who stayed active and engaged through high school. Brooke loved the group programming and going to day camps at Camp Sealth. As a teenager, she earned her Work Health Love award with service projects that addressed homelessness and made recordings of camp songs for archival purposes.
“The content of the program — the practice of working with a group and having reflection pieces built in — was really helpful,” Brooke says. “Those interpersonal and leadership skills built confidence that served me well later on.”
While studying natural resources policy at Oregon State (“Camp will do that to you,” Brooke jokes) , Brooke spent several summers on staff at Camp Sealth. She continued to stay connected and volunteer as she started building her adult life, first as an indoor climbing instructor and then at law school at Gonzaga University.
Now Associate In-house Counsel at the Building Industry Association of Washington, Brooke says her family connections help her stay close to Camp Fire as an adult. Not only did Brooke meet her wife while they were both working at camp, but Brooke’s sister is currently on staff at Camp Sealth and her mother has served on the council’s board. It’s easy for Brooke to hear about volunteer opportunities from her close network, but she knows there are many alumni who want to be more involved with but don’t have those built-in entryways. For example, no one else from her childhood Camp Fire program stayed active after high school, but she knows they would be excited to be asked to help.
“When young people age out of Camp Fire programs, they need a simple way to stay engaged,” Brooke says. “From a practical standpoint, we need to be able to stay in touch. That’s hard when you might have 10 different email addresses after high school or not use Facebook groups.”
When Brooke was invited to join the Alumni Task Force this past year, she jumped at the chance. Over several months, Brooke and other task force members met virtually to brainstorm ways to help alumni connect with each other and the organization.
“I was looking to share my own story and what might be helpful based on my own personal knowledge,” Brooke says. “It was a really positive experience to engage with like-minded folks who are excited about youth programs and learn what councils are doing across the country.”
Brooke and her teammates sent recommendations back to national headquarters, where the staff has been hard at work implementing them.
Thanks to the Alumni Task Force, these brand new alumni opportunities are live now:
- An expanded Alumni Hub where alumni can get the latest alumni news and easily update their contact information.
- An official, Camp Fire-moderated Alumni Facebook Group
- New Facebook profile photo frames (three to choose from)
- An official, Camp Fire-moderated LinkedIn Group
- Additionally, Camp Fire Alumni is now listed as a company on LinkedIn, so alumni can list Camp Fire as part of their experience history and find other alumni easily.
- A new digital Alumni Badge
At the recommendation of the task force, Camp Fire National Headquarters is also working on an alumni toolkit for councils. This toolkit will feature best practices from councils across the country and step-by-step plans on how to engage alumni on a local level.
Brooke is enthusiastic about what increased alumni engagement and consistent connection could do for both alumni and current Camp Fire youth.
“There’s a mutual benefit there,” Brooke says. “Youth can benefit from mentorship and the visibility piece — seeing different types of folks in all kinds of careers and roles. And alumni volunteers can feel good about how they are spending their time. People need that sense of altruism in their lives, especially during more stressful times.”