“The Pivot” in 2014-2015

To be relevant and successful as a leader in youth development, an organization must be flexible, open to suggestions, adaptable, meet needs with empathy and have outstanding communication with good customer service. Many adapting Camp Fire councils have dropped traditional clubs and have either become exclusive in camping or contracted after school care. Other councils are meeting their community needs by providing clubs in neighborhoods or schools, camping and outdoor education or teen programming.

Our council is working hard to meet youth development needs on the Central Coast making a pivot last year in adding new programs and methodologies with a robust menu of programming options. Highlights for 2014-2015 include;

  • Becoming Flexible: Completion of Market Opportunity study revealed networks of families completing First Five programs, home school families, underrepresented communities and outdoor learning of which we are pursuing, to grow the number of children and youth we serve. Because of our response to the study, student participation has increased 46% from the previous year.
  • Open to Suggestions: The new Thrive methodology was incorporated throughout our programming including with staff and volunteers. Thrive{ology} is the concept of identifying ones Sparks or passions, adopting a Growth Mindset (the belief that continual and lifelong learning is both possible and essential,) building Goal Management Skills (GPS), and creating the opportunity to Reflect on activities and outcomes. Our Youth surveys are demonstrating the confidence building impact this methodology is having on our youth. Nationally, Camp Fire of the Central Coast is emerging as an exemplary Thrive council.
  • Adaptable: Our very best programming is found within our clubs with the journey of self discovery in following the five trails. New clubs were added this past year under the outstanding leadership of Cheri Hess. Last year’s programming pivot included an intense effort to introduce Teens in Acton to the Central Coast. The primary purpose of Teens in Action is to support teens in exploring their sparks, allowing them to have a positive impact in their schools and communities through community service. Under the energetic leadership of Jazmin Garcia, over 150 teens, new to Camp Fire, will complete an 8-10 week community service project in Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo. In addition, Teens in Action have created new relationships with other youth organizations, schools, and social agencies.

The Market Opportunity study also indicated that Camp Fire is poised to become the leader on the Central Coast in Outdoor Education.  All camping programs increased in attendance. Camp Natoma expanded to 5 weeks for the first time in many years. Our strategic plan for the next three years is for Camp Fire to be the Central Coast leader in Outdoor Education under the year round leadership of our extraordinary Camp Director, Emily Starkie Zbin.

  • Meeting Needs with Empathy: Our Pivot this past year included our desire to serve more youth from a fresh perspective. How do we procure youth development opportunities for more children, youth and their families? Teens in Action has led us to work with youth from other youth organizations; Boys & Girls Clubs, social agencies; Community Action Commission, and schools; AVID and ASES classrooms. Many of these students have been underrepresented in youth development programs such as Camp Fire. Our strategic thinking includes introducing these youth to additional Camp Fire programming and outdoor/camping experiences.
  • Outstanding Communication and Customer Service: Last year Camp Fire Central Coast acquired new funding resources to improve our technology and communication services. With the help and guidance of Rebecca McClintock, our website has been redesigned, online registration has been incorporated, our marketing materials and social media have been improved, our data base has been recreated and our overall customer service has been significantly improved.

Camp Fire’s mission is not to look after children and youth, but to inspire them so they will achieve their potential and Thrive! Our challenge within our community is to project this mission and not be seen as only a “prevention” program with inconsequential impact. Our student surveys indicates otherwise. Our studies show our impact as immeasurable, achieving outstanding results in youth development, building community and achieving individual potential.

Through this pivotal year our vision for Camp Fire on the Central Coast is clear. Our challenge is to find ways we can financially sustain this imperative vision. Here are some ways our Camp Fire leaders, alumni, friends, volunteers and community partners can be part of the solution to this challenge;

  • Join our Circle of Friends and give annually with a thoughtful donation
  • Give enthusiastically to programs you care about; campership, capital improvements or programs
  • Volunteer and exercise your abilities and unleash passion for children and youth
  • Share our vision with others who have a passion for Youth Development and engage them in our work
  • Connect Camp Fire with potential partners at work, service clubs, businesses and foundations
  • Remember Camp Fire as you plan your legacy giving

One last thought: Our success over the past 80 years is not only the quality of our programming but also is the dedication and heartfelt passion of our volunteers. One cannot thank our volunteers enough for the thousands of hours committed to our mission of inspiring children and youth. Our Board of Directors are devoted to the oversight of our council. Our committee volunteers are the creators of our council’s future. Our club leaders and youth specialist are passionate about the children they serve. Camp Cielo and Tacenneko are dependent on our creative and dedicated volunteers. Our facility volunteers at Camp Natoma are invaluable and essential to maintenance and development of this critical program. Thank you for your service and supporting our council for all these years.

It has been an honor and my pleasure to represent Camp Fire locally and nationally as your Executive Director.

Submitted by: Kenneth D. Miles, Executive Director

Annual Meeting 4/23/2015

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