Written by Haley Jacobs, Graduating Social Work Intern with Camp Fire Heartland in Kansas City, Mo.

Haley (Left) with her sister Rae (Right)

I will be honest, before starting at Camp Fire, I never thought I would be working with children.

I had watched my mother and sister work with children in elementary schools for years and I thought that was not for me. I did not want to have a job with all the planning, yelling, and boogers. I was fairly set in the mindset that I wanted to work with adults, most likely women, in a shelter type setting.

So that is what I did. I started off my social work career with a practicum in a domestic violence shelter…but I realized very quickly that I was wrong. I did not want to work there. So, I went back to the field education office at the University of Kansas (KU), and they told me that a new practicum had just opened that very same day at a place called Camp Fire. I had no clue what Camp Fire was, so I thought I would Google it and give them a call. I quickly realized it was solely working with children, but I decided to give it a try.

I came into Camp Fire with little to no confidence. I honestly felt like I had failed at my previous practicum and that social work might not be for me. I thought people at Camp Fire would see these thoughts written on my face as I walked through the doors on the first day.

But I was greeted with smiles…from everyone. I quickly started working with Kayla Neal, Assistant Program Manager at Camp Fire Heartland, and she made me feel absolutely at home. She did not judge me when I dropped tacos on my bright blue pants on the very first day and had to wear that taco stain around the office.

Once I finished my training and learned what a “Spark” was, and what the growth mindset meant, among other things, I was excited about social work again. I was excited about Camp Fire and about working with children.

This is when I started shadowing Kayla in J.A. Rogers Elementary School. She taught these children Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills through Camp Fire’s Conflict Resolution program, and the students loved her. She showed them patience, love and fun; a few things they may not have seen in their lifetime.

Kayla taught me how to lead a classroom and how to teach Conflict Resolution by example. She has built up my confidence and made me excited about working with children. She not only teaches her interns, but she leads. She does not laugh when you’re standing in front of a class and the students are yelling, running around and you’re trying your very hardest to teach them what a compliment is. Kayla is my field instructor and my supervisor, but she is more than that. She is my mentor. She is a person I know I can talk to when social work just brings me down. She has made a vast impact in my life in the few months I have known her. I will use her knowledge to guide my social work career, which now solely focuses on working with children.

“I have never been more proud to be part of an organization, than I am at Camp Fire.”

Camp Fire has changed the trajectory of my life. Camp Fire has made me see that great opportunities come in the places you never thought you’d end up. Camp Fire has changed my mindset, my confidence and just me as a person in amazing ways. I have never been more proud to be part of an organization, than I am at Camp Fire.