March is a big month for Camp Fire.  While we celebrate youth every day of every month, since 1997 we’ve taken a special “pause” the third Thursday in March (the date coincides with our founding) to celebrate Camp Fire Absolutely Incredible Kid Day®. It is the only nationally recognized, trademarked day of its kind in the U.S.
On March 5, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James and the City Council declared March 19, 2015, Camp Fire Absolutely Incredible Kid Day in Kansas City! On hand to receive the proclamation and shake the hands of Mayor James and Council members were a contingent of Kansas City Camp Fire staff, parents, and a few of our absolutely incredible kids. The kids each received a gift from the mayor (some called it their best gift ever!) and those of us in the role of caring adults received affirmation—by the Mayor and the Council—of the work we do. In fact, I was pleased to see that one of the Council members is also a Camp Fire alumna. It was a good day and yes, March is a very good month.

Why is this kind of public recognition so important? At Camp Fire we certainly don’t need public officials to applaud our work for us to know how much it matters. Yet, recognition does validate, and it draws public attention to who we are, what we’re doing, and why it matters so much. And isn’t that in fact what Absolutely Incredible Kid Day is all about? In March we remind kids how much they matter, how much voice matters, and that we—as caring adults—stand ready to listen.

Public recognition of private beliefs is an essential element of a compassionate culture. On the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we’re reminded of the deep and searing struggles of the civil rights movement.  On Veterans Day we remember the men and women who fought battles for freedom, often losing their lives in the process. We dedicate days to mothers, grandparents, and our national s/heroes. So isn’t it fitting that every year in March, Camp Fire dedicates a day to kids? They deserve public and private recognition. So, we should feel proud that for the last 18 years, our efforts, along with those of our supporters, schools, parents, and families, have been a part of weaving this recognition into our national culture.

One of the letters featured on our website demonstrates the power of Absolutely Incredible Kid Day. Instead of praising their young daughter for “being great,” the letter praised her for something much more specific and significant—being herself.

According to Jancyn’s parents, “She is comfortable being who she is in any situation and undaunted in the face of challenges. She is never deterred by the fact that something is difficult and has the self confidence that she can accomplish anything.”

Undaunted, undeterred, self-confident—these are words that mean something. They’re authentic; they applaud character traits that underscore what it means to grow into a thriving youth. And they’re publicly acknowledged. Yes, we all need to say words of praise every day. Yet in March, let us pledge to do so with renewed commitment to the absolutely incredible kids we have the privilege to serve.

Cheers,

Cathy Tisdale
President & CEO