Reconnection over Resolution

Reconnection over Resolution

This January, we’re trying something new: We’re focusing on reconnection instead of resolutions. Our December National Leadership Conference theme was Camp Fire (re)Connects.  

Camp Fire’s mission is to connect young people to the outdoors, to others and to themselves. It takes regular recommitment to stay the connection course. NLC gave us an inspiration re-up right when we needed it, and we wanted to share a few of the stories that are recentering us in 2024.  

Connecting to the outdoors 

Our friends at Camp Fire Minnesota won this year’s NLC Connection to the Outdoors award for going above and beyond to open the outdoors to all kids. (See the other honorees here!) We’re in awe of the width, breadth and welcoming spirit of their outdoor programming. Particularly inspiring: 84 percent of their participants share that “because of Camp Fire, they want to take care of nature and planet Earth.”  

PreK-12 environmental education, after school explorations, summer camps, school break day camps in all seasons, Northwoods adventure trips, a nature immersion preschool, free online outdoor learning resources — they literally do not stop. Proof? In the winter, these folks cut cold plunge holes in Lake Minnewashta for their winter Sauna Camp! (Open to the public. Sign us up!)  

Laptop with the "free online outdoor learning resources" from Camp Fire Minnesota

We want to emulate Camp Fire Minnesota’s year-round outdoor enthusiasm and inclusive mindset. It might be tough for the hibernators among us, but we know the benefits of getting outdoors are too powerful to let a little weather get in the way. So we’re committing to more winter outdoor time! 

Reconnection challenge: How many times per week can you get outside this winter? Set the bar low: Just walking around the block counts as outdoor time! Bundle up, invite the young people in your life, and go!    

Connecting to others 

At NLC, we also got an update on a new partnership with Playworks called Tag Team. Designed to support kids during the school day, Camp Fire Heartland and Camp Fire Alaska have been piloting the program of evidenced-based recess strategies to rave reviews. The goal? Play.  

Why? “Kids who play are resilient, empathetic, and active,” says Playworks. We believe it! Tag Team uses the Playworks playbook (ha!) to foster fun (and, oh, right, teach valuable SEL skills). Research says high-quality recesses boost students’ executive functioning, emotional self-control, resilience and positive classroom behavior. Educators report that Playworks help students learn cooperation, demonstrate empathy and connect to their peers.   

Which makes us ask: If recess can connect kids at school, can it connect…us…anywhere? Playworks has an extensive, searchable free game library online. What would happen if we instituted grown-up recess? We’re game to find out! (See what we did there?)  

Reconnection challenge: Do you set aside playtime with your friends, family, and/or co-workers? How can you bring more play — and connection — into your life? 

Connecting to ourselves 

NLCers got to hear from John Hamilton, Alliance for Camp Health’s Chief Strategy and Engagement Officer, on the organization’s mental, emotional and social health framework. The aim of mesh(+) is to “integrate the mind, nature, and spirituality with individual character development and communal engagement.” We dig it. 

ACH has a variety of mesh(+) resources available, including training for community builders, learning modules for out-of-school time program developers, pocket guides for camp staff and counselors, and more.  

Image of the free Mesh+ resource guide

Bonus: Some mesh(+) fundamentals got us thinking about how we can reconnect to ourselves, too. In ACH’s (free) mesh resource guide, they cover how to help campers meet their basic needs. Food, water, sunscreen and bugspray? Nope. These are the true essentials:  

  • Power: learning skills, knowing your impact, giving and receiving specific praise, recognizing effort, trying stuff, contributing answers 
  • Freedom: Having choice, space, flexibility and options 
  • Love and Belonging: Listening and being listened to, validating emotions, offering and receiving care, seeing and being seen, interacting calmly and with kindness 
  • Fun: Variety, games, storytelling, creativity, exploration, music, celebration 

We’re not only doing a gut check on whether Camp Fire is offering power, freedom, love/belonging and fun to young people but questioning…are we offering them to ourselves?  

Reconnection challenge: Are you low on power, freedom, love/belonging or fun in your life? What changes can you make to give yourself more of these basic needs?  

What are you reconnecting with in 2024? Connect with a Camp Fire affiliate near you

January 4, 2024

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