Sherry Turkle’s opinion piece “Stop Googling, Let’s Talk” (Sept. 26, 2015) resonated strongly with us at Camp Fire. We were reminded that members of the northern Natal tribes of South Africa greet one another daily by saying “Sawubona”, which literally means: “I see you.” The response is “Sikbona” which means: “I am here”. This exchange is important, for it says that until you ‘see’ me, I do not exist; and when you ‘see’ me, you bring me into existence.
At Camp Fire, children and adults learn to see each other, and not through the lens of a smart phone. We do so by developing sparks in young people and through Spark Champions—caring adults who recognize and encourage their sparks.

Sparks are the passions, skills, and strengths in all of us. They’re a source of motivation, much deeper than passive activities like watching TV. We emphasize social skills including empathy and inclusiveness. We encourage young people to understand other people’s points of view.

Camp Fire youth tell us what their sparks are and why they’re important. None of them have anything to do with being more adept at texting. At Camp Fire we are going Back to the Future. Putting down electronics when it is important and really seeing the other person for who he or she really is. And has the potential to become.