Last month, we had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with Geri Anne Elsen, Chief Operating Officer and Michael Lemon, Director of Thrive Initiative from Camp Fire National. During a working lunch with our program staff and six of our council’s wonderful volunteers, Geri and Michael presented information about National’s position on Group Program. We want to extend to you what we learned.
Firstly, Geri and Michael were emphatic that National is not putting an end to Camp Fire’s signature Group Program. National recently conducted research, which reveals that nearly all councils that have relied on Group Program as their primary program delivery system are in the most serious financial difficulty, have dissolved due to financial instability, or have little or no reserves to grow. As a result, National advocates that councils offer a mix of school year and summer programs, rather than any single stand-alone strategy (camps or Group Program).
National is excited our partnership with the Thrive Foundation for Youth. The Thrive Foundation’s cutting-edge research proves that there is a direct connection between participating in programs, like the ones offered by Camp Fire for over a century, and increased school success and positive behaviors. Our council was selected as one of ten pilot sites to implement the Thrive framework, and soon that will roll out to all Camp Fire programs, across all councils. Integrating this methodology into our programs will not drastically change them – camps will still be camps, Group Program will still be Group Program, etc. However, it will introduce a shared language to help youth identify their passions, communicate effectively, and set goals.
Geri and Michael also updated us on a new affiliation with the Säjai Foundation. Säjai developed a unique and impactful curriculum, Wise Kids®, that focuses on helping youth form healthy habits that last a lifetime. The curriculum aligns perfectly with our work at Camp Fire.
In closing, National let us know that within three years they will have revised and published an updated version of the curriculum we use for Group Program. We all believe that these new partnerships will serve to enhance what we do at Camp Fire while remaining true to who we are as an organization!