We really, really need your story. Here’s why.
Happy Alumni Month! Gather ‘round the crackling fire with us…watch the flames dance as the smell of smoke and crisp night air billows up into a starry sky. Snuggle up in a fleece blanket, perhaps the warmth of a hot chocolate or a ‘smore kisses your tongue, and in between bites or sips, you laugh and joke with your friends sitting nearby. Do you remember these moments? The glow of the fire brought you together, and it’s a place where connection and story is sparked.
Every July we celebrate our alumni and share your stories, but this year we also wanted to explain why. Storytelling is part of Camp Fire’s DNA, whether it’s around a literal campfire, as a teaching tool during a program, or connecting with you all online. We’ll dive into the reasons storytelling is an essential part of our community’s past, present, and future below, but first…
Who are Camp Fire alumni?
We use a wide definition of alumni at Camp Fire. Have you ever attended a Camp Fire program? Gone to a Camp Fire camp? Have you been a Camp Fire volunteer? Have you worked or volunteered for Camp Fire’s national headquarters or any of our affiliates around the country? Have you sat on a Camp Fire board? Sponsored a Camp Fire event or program? Partnered with Camp Fire to help connect young people to the outdoors, others, and themselves in any way?
Then congrats, my friend, you are part of our Camp Fire alumni family.
Why do alumni stories matter?
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion.
Stories are the way we make sense of our world. When we tell stories, we are making meaning. When we share our stories, we are helping others understand who we are and what matters to us. Stories help us order the random senses, facts, and fragments around us. Without them, we’ve got a whole lot of chaos and no clear path forward.
“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not.” – Isabel Allende
When we place ourselves in the context of a story—this is how things started, this is what changed, this is what is happening now, this is where we’re headed, and this is my best guess at what it all means—we give ourselves a rough life map to follow.
The act of storytelling also reminds us we are active participants in the stories we’re living. We get to change the narrative any time we want. We also get to decide what the story means. These stories aren’t happening to us—We are the story, and we are the storytellers!
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” – Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
When we tell stories collectively, we create culture. You could say Camp Fire’s culture is the sum total of the stories of all of our alumni and current Camp Fire participants. To understand who we are, we need all of your stories! We need the good ones, the sad ones, the triumphant ones, the still-trying ones, the ones with happy endings, the ones that are still in progress. All of them.
“Every crisis is in part a storytelling crisis.” – Rebecca Solnit
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it: Growing up is hard. Young people today are facing severe environmental and mental health challenges. Sharing stories can help us both understand those challenges better and work our way toward possible solutions. When we share stories, we’re also sharing hope. Alumni stories can be a powerful way of empathizing with the difficulties today’s kids face while highlighting how past generations have overcome their own challenges.
How can alumni share their Camp Fire stories?
We want to hear more of your stories. We need everyone’s voice to create a strong Camp Fire culture—and to light the way forward. Here are three ways to share:
- Email us with a story or two. Write it, record an audio file or do a quick phone video. Draw a cartoon, send a photo. Any format works! email@example.com
- You can also join our Alumni newsletter to get alumni stories and updates in your inbox.
- Share a story in our social media comments or DMs. We’re on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
- Leave us a voicemail message. Take a few minutes to call and record your alumni story. It’s easy! 816-371-7945
Give me some story ideas!
Sure thing! Here are a few story starters to get you going:
- What is something you learned about yourself through Camp Fire?
- What Camp Fire memory makes you laugh out loud?
- How would you be different without Camp Fire in your life?
- Tell us about a friend you made through Camp Fire.
- What Camp Fire lesson are you still learning?
- What challenges did you face as a young person (or are you currently facing)?
- When you think of the Camp Fire of the future, what do you imagine?
And here are some stories we’ve shared on the blog. Just remember your story can come in other forms. It doesn’t have to be blog post-style!
- From Camp Fire to Mission Control: NASA Chief Flight Director Holly Ridings’s Alumni Story
- Camp Fire Alumni Keep Camp History Alive: The Ojiketa Preservation Society tells the story of their beloved Twin Cities region camp.
- From Lonely Kid to Lifelong Friends: Camp Fire historian Lorrie Scott’s alumni story
- Who Influenced You Along the Way by Pamme Boutselis, Camp Fire alumni, on how her Camp Fire leader Mrs. Bunney made a big impact on her life.
- Ilse Browner: A Woman of Tolerance: A WWII refugee’s experiences with Camp Fire
- Risk, Leadership & Resilience: Melanie Herman’s Camp Fire story
- Award-winning senior swimmer carries Camp Fire torch: Maurine Kornfeld, U.S. Masters Swimming Hall of Famer & Camp Fire alum
- Celebrating You: A collection of brief alumni thoughts and microstories