“It was the best of times and the worst of times”, continues to ring true as an opening line not only in Charles Dickens seminal book, Tale of Two Cities, but also in many of our thoughts as we try to articulate complex circumstances. Good and bad “times” can coexists, and often do. The challenge is…they get tricky and complicated to communicate. As I write these words in anticipation of our fiscal year end, I will also include another phrase in Dickens’ rather long, first sentence—a phrase I suggest we remember as we bid one year goodbye in anticipation of fresh opportunities ahead—“it was the spring of hope.”
At Camp Fire, thanks to our continued work with the Thrive Foundation for Youth, release of the recent Hatcheul, Tabernik and Associates (HTA) evaluations, was one of the “best” of times in 2015. Pride in our accomplishments surged throughout our Movement. Every one of us worked hard over these past twelve months delivering programming infused with Thrive{ology}. Due to this diligence, it was deeply gratifying to learn that 83% of our youth said Camp Fire encouraged them to explore the things they are interested in and 82% said Camp Fire taught them they do not have to be “born with” talent to be good at something. This is high affirmation of Thrive{ology} at work. There is no better gift we could give the youth of tomorrow than ownership and pride in their uniquely-defined talents.

Yet, as Dickens reminds us, the best times often include the worst. Though we continue to chip away at our challenges, they persist as significant roadblocks. As we look ahead we simply must address our lack of system-wide technology. There is too much that ties us together to limit ourselves by structural resources. We must also find workable solutions to under-resourced councils as well as an under-resourced National Headquarters. Yet as I mention the “worst”, let me be clear, our challenges are NOT through a lack of will or commitment. They are simply realities that limit many organizations today, ours included. And let me be equally clear in my belief that we WILL find solutions.

If 83% of our youth (again, a result of the HTA survey) said that through Camp Fire’s support, if they do not achieve their goal on the first try, they do not give up…neither will we! Join me. Join the youth we’ve empowered to solve problems and reflect on those things in their lives that make them proud. Though we have problems to solve, we have much to be proud of. Indeed it is the “spring of hope.”


Cathy Tisdale
President & CEO, Camp Fire