A Message from Cathy Tisdale, Camp Fire National Headquarters President & CEO:

I don’t know about you, but I was heartened, encouraged, and not at all surprised by the brave responses of the students who survived the Feb. 14 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Sophie Whitney, 18, a survivor of last week’s shooting, said, “We can’t dwell on the sadness. Of course, we’re all heartbroken, but we can’t let the 17 people die for nothing. We have to make something good out of their death.”

Sophie and her fellow high school students are demanding that adults pay attention and act responsibly on their behalf, and act on behalf of children across the nation. They aren’t filtering what they say or how they say it to be “politically correct” or keep from offending their neighbors. They’re doing what we encourage all young people to do: lift their voice and discover who they are. Given the horrific event these young people survived and the terrible days ahead as they adjust to their “new normal”, it absolutely begins for them and their families now. How will we step up? Individually and collectively?

Youth development organizations like Camp Fire serve one purpose without fear or favor: We are a strong and positive voice of and for young people. We must do everything we can to ensure their health, safety, happiness and well-being. To achieve that, we may sometimes have to set aside our personal preferences and positions for their benefit. Because it‘s not about us—it’s about them.

Therefore, I have committed Camp Fire to join with some of our national peer organizations to determine how best to lift our collective voice and take action. We are mindful of the deep divide in this country around the underlying issues and recognize there is no “cookie cutter” solution to closing the gaps in our mental health system or addressing gun laws. But we must start where we are and lead forward. We owe that to those young lives already cut short and those still at risk.

In 2012, our market research showed that young people strongly wanted a voice for change. This was a driving force in our rebranding. We changed Camp Fire’s “mission” to “Our Promise.” Because kids and teens know what a Promise is, and the commitment we are making as adults to uphold it:

Young people want to shape the world, and they do shape the world – we need look no farther than the students speaking up from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On March 24, young people from across the country will gather in D.C. and in their home towns to lift their collective voices for action. Let’s follow their lead and amplify their voices through our collective actions. I will keep you informed and engaged as we and our peer organizations determine our collective path forward. Let’s end the loss of innocent lives and needless school violence.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead