Well, hello, 2023. What do you have in store for us? Our new strategic plan has some (very exciting) spoilers.
We opened 2022 with a new vision for Camp Fire: We envision a world where all young people thrive and have equitable opportunities for self-discovery, community connection, and engagement with nature.
That’s a big dream. And we took some big steps last year, including expanding our CAMPER program to increase access to outdoor programs, standing with trans* young people, revamping our definition of thriving, redesigning our awards and recognition emblems as part of our continuing efforts to end cultural appropriation in our organization, and more.
These are all examples of actions we took because we set strong goals in 2021. Smart goal-setting is a fundamental part of many of our programs and core to our organizational process. We recently collaborated with National Headquarters team members, affiliate staff, alumni, and our Youth Advisory Cabinet to set priorities for the next two years. Led by our mission, vision and values, we considered what young people need and how we can respond to come up with six strategic focus areas for 2023 – 2025:
Uplift the Camp Fire community to build connection to the outdoors, to others, and to themselves.
This includes increasing alumni engagement, developing professional learning communities for staff, expanding relationships with like-minded outdoor partner organizations, investing in professional development, and promoting environmental stewardship and action across the Camp Fire board.
Champion a thriving workforce, present and future.
“This focus was a lightbulb moment for us!” said Shawna Rosenzweig, Camp Fire Chief Strategy Officer. “At Camp Fire, young people explore their interests and passions, develop employability skills, and apply their knowledge to real-world experiences — all things that get young people workforce ready!”
Shawna shared Camp Fire is in a unique position to be able to help young people see themselves in careers where their identities may have been underrepresented, including STEM fields. This focus also includes attention to Camp Fire’s present workforce, especially when it comes to equitable recruitment and retention strategies to ensure representation reflective of program participants through all levels of the organization.
Unify and amplify the Camp Fire brand to maximize organizational impact.
“Camp Fire is leading the way in diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive programs that build a sense of belonging for young people,” said Shawna. “We often talk about Camp Fire being a best kept secret. Through our partnerships, advocacy, and innovations, we are primed to amplify the amazing work happening across the Camp Fire network!”
Shawna believes that Camp Fire can be a leader at local, state and national levels in conversations about how to support young people. Camp Fire is already participating in two national U.S. Department of Education initiatives, the National Partnership for Student Success and YOU Belong in STEM, and will continue to look for ways to contribute as a thought leader and proponent of youth voice.
This goal also includes demonstrating inclusion in all parts of the Camp Fire experience, increasing engagement in brand campaigns (like Absolutely Incredible Kid Day), and continuing to communicate Camp Fire’s benefits in compelling ways.
“In volatile times, young people and their families and caregivers are looking to us to stand for something, to lead the way, and use our voice to amplify those who may not otherwise be heard,” Shawna said.
Diversify funding and revenue streams to ensure Camp Fire’s financial sustainability for future generations.
The vision has to be funded! This goal includes growing philanthropic revenue, expanding our programming into new markets, establishing mission-driven public and private partnerships, and more.
Address the legacy of organizational practices, past and present, that appropriate Indigenous cultures.
“We just returned from Washington DC where we spent a full-day mapping out a partnership blueprint, facilitated by the dream team at Third Settlements,” Shawna shared. “We had the opportunity to engage openly and honestly with our partners at the National Indian Education Association to develop a mutually beneficial partnership model. We are creating a new blueprint for how to partner with organizations and communities in a more equitable and transparent way. It’s exciting!”
This goal also includes investing in professional development resources, building strategies for ending appropriate practices across the network and acknowledging/repairing harm, and promoting the new non-appropriative reward and recognition emblems.
Journey toward equity and justice by advancing inclusion, dismantling racism and oppression in ourselves and our institutions.
This goal includes recognizing innovative inclusion practices, breaking down participation barriers, expanding relationships with other equity-minded community-based organizations, continuing to build a culture of inclusion, investing in DEIA professional development and partnering with young people on these issues.
“We hear from young people that issues of inequity and injustice (along with concerns around mental health and the climate crisis) are upsetting, demoralizing, and can feel overwhelming,” Shawna said. “This is where Camp Fire comes in. We can do our part to support young people to learn more, create change, and develop a strong sense of self and community so that they can take on these challenges.”