Camp Fire believes in the dignity and the intrinsic worth of every human being. We welcome, affirm, and support young people and adults of all abilities and disabilities, experiences, races, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, religion and non-religion, citizenship and immigration status, and any other category people use to define themselves or others. We strive to create safe and inclusive environments that celebrate diversity and foster positive relationships.
We believe in the intrinsic value, dignity, and worth of every person. That is what drives us in our work as a youth-serving organization, and that is the lens from which we make all of our decisions.
The past few years we have been discussing Camp Fire’s history and use of native culture with the lens of cultural appropriation and talking more about diversity, equity and inclusion. But like many, this year was a catalyst to get our priorities in order.
Baldridge said we are amidst multiple pandemics: not just coronavirus, but also systemic racial and economic injustice, and state violence. And although it felt new to many of us after George Floyd’s murder, waking up in horror for the first time, anti-black racism was and is not new, family separation was/is not new, economic injustice was/is not new. And the global health pandemic has disproportionately impacted our Black, Native American, and Latine communities. And we can’t separate these realities from our work and the world in which we operate. Our young people are in it.
Camp Fire youth have spoken up and made it clear that they want us to acknowledge and address these realities, these multiple pandemics. Young people are asking us for brave leadership.
We spent 2020 reflecting, listening, learning, and moving into action. Read the letter below to see the actions we have taken in the past year and how we are continuing to be in the work as we enter 2021.
We are committed to creating a sustainable organization that best serves today’s and tomorrow’s youth and families, where every young person can be their whole selves, and connect with others and nature in a safe, affirming environment that strives to break down barriers and provide opportunities to thrive.
With these values in mind, Camp Fire spent the better part of 2020 formulating our new 18-month Strategic Plan that focuses on 5 main goals:
Hear President & CEO, Greg Zweber, and Chief Strategy Officer, Shawna Rosenzweig discuss our Strategic Plan by watching this recording of our Feb 3, 2021 Fireside Chat.
One of Camp Fire’s five interwoven strategic commitments is addressing and ending cultural appropriation. In 2020, Camp Fire began working with Thrive Paradigm to identify culturally appropriative elements of its programming and recommend changes aligned with Camp Fire’s values of equity and inclusivity. In April through July of last year, Thrive Paradigm helped Camp Fire establish a task force, conduct an audit and develop recommendations for changes and next steps.
The task force reiterated that Camp Fire has a long, rich history of positive youth development and that removing culturally appropriative practices doesn’t detract from that. Instead, making thoughtful changes to end cultural appropriation and acknowledging the harm that appropriation has done is right in line with Camp Fire’s founding mission to “guide young people on their journey to self-discovery.”
In 2019, we began efforts to create greater access to overnight/resident camp among three cohorts of underserved youth: 1) young people from economically underserved backgrounds, 2) young people who identify as LGBTQ2S+, and 3) young people with disabilities. This work is made possible through a three-year grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. As part of the grant, Camp Fire National Headquarters hired Ben Matthews as our program consultant for diversity and inclusion.
You can also meet Ben and learn more about the CAMPER grant by watching this recording of our June 24, 2020 Fireside Chat.
If you have exchanged emails with Camp Fire National Headquarters staff, you may have noticed that we have our personal pronouns in our email signatures. If you are not sure why they are there, or the importance of pronouns, check out this page to learn more!
2S is for Two Spirit. Two Spirit is a term designated for Native, Indigenous, and Alaska Native LGBTQ+ individuals. The word came from the Anishinabe language and means having both female and male spirits within one person. Two Spirit has a different meaning in different communities. –Tribal-Institue.org
Camp Fire is on a journey to acknowledge and rectify our history of cultural appropriation. Part of this journey is recognizing the harm that has been done and working to build new, trusted relationships with Native and Indigenous communities. As we move forward into new partnerships and spaces, we want to honor the significant and largely unrecognized contributions of Two Spirit and Indigenous people. By adding 2S to our LGBTQ2S+ acronym we remind ourselves that without these contributions we would not be here today and hold space in the future of Camp Fire for Native, Indigenous, and Two Spirit people to we welcome, affirmed, celebrated, and supported.
You may have noticed that this year we’ve updated/expanded our inclusion statement which encompasses some things we hadn’t yet called out: This challenges us to live out our values. As part of our current strategic commitments work, Camp Fire embarked…
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Young people want to shape the world.
Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are.
In Camp Fire, it begins now.