Daily Point of Light # 1819 Jan 23, 2001

Camp Fire Boys and Girls builds caring, confident youth, and future leaders. Since 1911, hundreds of thousands of young people have had fun, made friends, and gained important skills through a variety of small group and camping programs. One essential component of the Camp Fire program is learning to give back to the community through service projects.

Girls and boys can join Camp Fire as early as age five. Under the tutelage of caring adult leaders, youth enjoy activities that build skills in a sequential manner. While the Camp Fire program is non-competitive, young people are able to set goals for themselves and their group from one year to the next. The Wohelo award is Camp Fire’s highest achievement. It is awarded to high school seniors who complete rigorous advocacy action is on three issues of concern.

Kristin Thompson is the embodiment of Camp Fire’s caring spirit. She recently earned the Wohelo award for completing advocacy actions on the following three issues: the importance of after-school programs and activities for at-risk children, the importance of youth involvement in faith groups, and the importance of teaching participants the history of the Camp Fire organization. Kristin completed more than 600 hours of community service in the process of earning the Wohelo Award.

As President of her church youth group, Kristin and her group have worked at the Denny Place Youth Shelter preparing food and serving meals to homeless youth. She taught her church group about poverty and world hunger, organized their fundraising drive for World Vision, and led her group through the 30-Hour Famine, as a way to reflect on the plight of those they were helping.

Though she hardly seems old enough, Kristin has already created a lasting legacy. She saw the need for after-school activities for children at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in Seattle’s Central District. A large percentage of these kids come from low-income families, and many are homeless. In 1997, she enlisted the help of several adults and founded the first Camp Fire group Gatzert, serving approximately 20 children. For the past three years Kristin and her co-leaders have conducted groups meetings once a week, and planned field trips, special events, and even camping trips for enthusiastic young kids.

The successful program has inspired adults to get involved with the group, raising money from friends, and colleagues, and joining the kids on camping trips and other excursions. But Kristin’s good influence does not stop there. By successfully establishing a group program in a community where Camp Fire had never before operated, Kristin proved that these quality youth development programs could be as viable and relevant in a diverse, and at-risk community as they are in any other urban or suburban setting. With Kristin’s group setting the example, Camp Fire has recently received private foundation funding to establish programs in each grade level at Gatzert Elementary School.