Good celebrations linger. They ignite us. They reengage our passion for the person, ideal, cause, or relationship we’re celebrating. The very best celebrations are also opportunities for reflection, allowing time to examine the “why” behind the “what.” Every 4th of July we celebrate the birth of our nation as Independence Day. But why is that important? Why do we celebrate national, organizational, and personal milestones? I suggest celebrations provide an occasion to “check in,” to be reminded about what matters most to us, and — when necessary — to renew our commitment to the things and people we care about.

On March 19, Camp Fire celebrated Absolutely Incredible Kid Day®. Every year, we stop and do a “shout out” to all the amazing young people in our lives. We remind them of how important they are to us — as sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and acquaintances. We renew our commitment to be with them every step of the way as they try and figure out their path forward. So now — even as we remember with pride last month’s celebrations — let’s renew our commitment to continue to “walk our talk.”

Fortunately, we live our Promise to kids every day through a framework that supports our efforts — Thrive{ology}. Thrive{ology} provides what youth need most — a thriving (growth) mindset. With a thriving mindset, youth demonstrate concern for others, hopeful purpose, positive outlook, goal orientation, sparks, openness to challenges, and awareness of the world around them —the core attributes kids need to succeed.

In fact, according to a 2013 study by Heckman and Kautz (cited in a recent report by the Search Institute), character skills such as perseverance, conscientiousness, sociability, and curiosity rival IQ in predicting educational attainment, labor market success, and health. We celebrate these character traits on Absolutely Incredible Kid Day. But we can’t stop there. We must ensure the process that enables those absolutely incredible kids to grow into absolutely incredible teens and young adults.

InterACTION is the “next generation” in Camp Fire’s delivery of quality programming designed for today’s youth and teens. Developed for middle school youth, InterACTION recognizes that changes in friendships, increased interaction with adults, and more complicated peer relationships create complex communication challenges for young teens. Middle school youth are often navigating emotional upheavals while they’re coping with physical changes — not easy for anyone, let alone a youth without coping skills. Socially? They’re just trying to figure out a landscape they’ve never before encountered. Middle school years are turbulent years. InterACTION can help.

InterACTION helps youth communicate more effectively by avoiding communication pitfalls, understanding how body language impacts the meaning of their words, and recognizing that depending on the medium used (text, phone, in person) they need to adjust their messages. And — most important — through InterACTION youth learn about peer pressure, both good and bad, and how to prevent conflict.

So, yes, let’s continue to celebrate absolutely incredible kids. Most kids don’t hear genuine words of encouragement often enough. At the same time, we must anticipate the future those kids will face through delivery of programs like InterACTION. Let us do what we can so that today’s kids will be prepared to meet tomorrow’s complex challenges with absolute confidence.


Cathy Tisdale

Camp Fire

President & CEO