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Leadership News

IBM Recognizes Camp Fire Leadership Potential

Camp Fire National Headquarters recently received an in-kind grant from IBM, valued at $10,000, for full-day training for council CEOs. The training, "Leading for Change," is the initial investment from IBM, yet one both IBM and Camp Fire recognize as the first step towards a national partnership.

Leaders Shaped Over 12 Months

A total of six executives new to Camp Fire, from California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, are participating in the yearlong Executive Leadership Experience (ELE) and will participate in the onsite onboarding in Chicago, Illinois, prior to the Camp Fire CEO Summit.

Camp Fire Patuxent Area Sparkles and Shines

Youth making bowls

As part of an initiative to identify meaningful programs for youth and families, Camp Fire Patuxent Area (Bowie, Maryland) was recently named the Best of Greenbelt. They clearly deserve the recognition. This past summer was the council's seventh serving homeless children in a special summer program that prepares them to be school-ready in the fall. Seventy kids completed the program.

In addition, the council was awarded a grant from the Walton Family Fund to deliver out-of-school-time programs for children in the Maryland area. They were also awarded a contract by the Montgomery County Department of Recreation to deliver-out-of-school-time programs in four local middle schools.

Beginning in September, Camp Fire Patuxent Area will be supported by two deaf undergraduate social work interns, two graduate social work interns, and four nursing community health Interns.

United Way Gives Big to Camp Fire Central Puget Sound

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound (Seattle) recently reported that their local United Way awarded the council a grant of $90,000 that will directly benefit their school-year and camping programs.

Camp Fire Leader Toasted as Top 50 Power and Influence Leader
Elizabeth Darling, Camp Fire National Board of Trustees Chair, was recently listed as a Nonprofit Times Top 50 Power and Influence leader. The entire Camp Fire organization applauds her ongoing efforts.

To read the article, click here: http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/8-1-14_Top50PI.pdf

Good News, Great Leadership

Camp Fire Snohomish County (Everett, Wash.) has successfully integrated the youth and families from the former Camp Fire Juan de Fuca (Port Angeles, Wash.) into its council. Major accolades to Dave Surface, Camp Fire Snohomish CEO, and his team for working hard to build trust within the Port Angeles community.

$20,000 to Support Wise Kids Efforts

Rob Wyrick, Senior Development Officer, Camp Fire National Headquarters, recently secured a $20,000 grant for Camp Fire Wise Kids® from a local health foundation. The organization has not previously funded Camp Fire. Rob and his team are convinced, "Once they see want we can do, we'll have the opportunity for continued support!"

Key Market Initiative Set For September Launch
Cathy Tisdale and Lyn Lakin

What makes an organization effective and sustainable over the long term? How do we replicate that success for greater scale and impact nationwide? Over the last three years, we've identified four trends in Camp Fire's performance that are consistent with research on this subject.

  • Quality of leadership and readiness to lead and manage change. Through our work with TCC, we're all familiar with behaviors associated with Leader Capacity. We know that the only organizations that successfully adapt to a changing environment are those with effective leadership. As important, we know that success is dependent upon the effectiveness of our boards–not just our CEOs and staff. The research is unequivocal---Leader Capacity is the Number One predictor of organization effectiveness and sustainability over time.
  • Quality programs and program support that differentiate Camp Fire–create interest and excitement in the marketplace and meet critical needs among youth and their families. And, over time, create loyal "customers" and supporters.
  • The ability and the desire to scale–is required to increase both program reach (i.e. more youth and families) and revenue. We measure where we are both as a Movement and as individual councils on the Nonprofit Organization Lifecycle. The point at which we reach the Infrastructure Development stage is the point at which we've likely created capacity to scale.
  • Effective and efficient systems and processes–make it easier for volunteer and paid staff to focus on what matters most: quality program delivery, building consistent community support for Camp Fire, and reliably tracking, measuring, and evaluating performance at every level.

True readiness to grow requires a growth mindset, because it means we must be open to what the "marketplace" is telling us, we must be willing to experiment in order to innovate, and we sometimes have to get out of our comfort zones. All of which can be scary, because we're willingly moving into the unknown–often without a roadmap–as Camp Fire has done many times throughout its history.

A New Capacity Building Initiative
As part of our response, and as we announced on the Board Chair/CEO Call, we are instituting a new approach that will entail identifying and working closely with a group of ten "key market councils." The size, wealth, and economy of communities vary greatly across the country and affect how any business evaluates potential market opportunities and, thus, potential investment. Markets are typically considered key strategic markets, because they have the greatest opportunity to significantly increase reach and revenue regardless of the type of customer base.

The same is true with Camp Fire. Without exception, council performance is reflective of the level and quality of community resources and number of potential youth available within its jurisdiction. We strive for a quality Camp Fire experience and increased reach and revenue regardless of size. However, councils serving key markets simply have the potential over the long term to hit much larger numbers and increase revenue at a much higher rate–which is important for the community as well as the Movement. It's the notion of "rising tides lift all boats."

There are four goals for this initiative:

  • Ensure and support strong and effective council governance and executive leadership.
  • Increase program participation within the three core program areas.
  • Increase unrestricted council revenue as a percentage of total income.
  • Increase visibility of and support for Camp Fire locally and nationally.

This strategy is not new to the business sector, but it is new for Camp Fire. In setting key market criteria, we focused on: total youth population aged 5–17; jurisdictions with at least one SMSA of 100,000; current council market penetration rate (i.e., percentage of the total youth population being served by the council); and readiness of board and management to take a strategic market-driven approach to business planning and execution. A council's current overall performance was not the determining factor.

In Summary
There are several points worth restating:

  • This will be a highly collaborative partnership. Goals will be mutually agreed upon based on the market analysis and other key data. Both councils and Headquarters will define and commit to a set of realistic accountabilities to measure and ensure success. We expect a number of promising practices to emerge, as well.
  • This is an invitation-only process, with no requirement that the council participate. Board and management recognize its potential and are willing to commit to a plan customized for their individual situations.
  • This initiative is an evolving one–meaning we will work in a much more intensive way with these councils for some period of time. Once they have internalized and operationalized the changes in ways they and we assess as effective and sustainable, they will "roll off" and others will be invited to replace them. As we secure more staff resources, we can expand the list beyond ten.
  • The initiative begins by conducting a Market Opportunity Analysis or reviewing the council's strategic or business plan–if it provides comparable information. This initiative does not create another program for a council to administer. Rather, builds a multi-year business plan specific to local market needs and opportunities that best align with Camp Fire's vision, direction, and program priorities.
  • Councils outside of this effort will see no lessening of the support and consultation they currently require or receive from Headquarters.
  • Learning will be shared with the full system so that all councils benefit.

Camp Fire Camp Sealth Awarded Golden Teddy for Best Overnight Camp

Camp Fire Camp Sealth Awarded Golden Teddy for Best Overnight  Camp

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound Camp Sealth was literally jumping for joy after being awarded ParentMap's Golden Teddy for Best Overnight Camp for the second year in a row. Camp Sealth was also chosen as a finalist in the Nature/Environmental Camp category.

"I could go on forever about Camp Sealth," proclaimed one parent. Camp Sealth meets kids where they are, offering an array of activities for all campers and integrated inclusion for kids with special needs. One pleased parent shared that Camp Sealth "supports kids in trying new things, building social skills, and connecting to the outdoors," all in "an oasis away from city worries and noises."

Camp Sealth is fully accredited by the American Camping Association and offers both day and overnight camps. It is fully inclusive, welcoming kids of all backgrounds and abilities, and delivers a vast array of activities, such as horseback riding, canoeing and sailing, archery, hiking, and the arts.

Camp Fire Inland Northwest Celebrates "100 Hours of Camp Fire"

Camp Fire Inland  Northwest Celebrates 100 Hours of Camp Fire

August 4–8 alumni and friends of Camp Fire Inland Northwest shared 100 hours of camp memories, song singing, and s'more enjoyment as they celebrated 100 years of celebrating local youth and families.

Activities included visits by local university teams, Camp Fire mint s'mores and banana boats, nightly concerts, crafts for kids, and a dunk tank.

Guests were encouraged to attach their favorite Camp Fire memory to a "memory wall." Throughout the five days, a cauldron was burning–for a total of 100 hours.

"Whatta night!" for Camp Fire Minnesota

"It was a $100,000 night for Camp Fire Minnesota," Marnie Wells, CEO, recently shared with pride. At the local All-Star Home Run Derby, the council was awarded a $50,000 gift, which was matched dollar for dollar by a Camp Fire Minnesota donor.

Marnie continued, "We are honored and thrilled to be part of such an exciting experience! As the late U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Paul Wellstone (D), use to say, "'We all do better when we all do better.'"

Passing of a Good Friend

Passing of a Good Friend

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Jan O'Callaghan's recent death. Jan was a huge part of Camp Fire Golden Empire and Camp Gold Hollow. "She will certainly be missed," said Roberta Cotter, President, Camp Fire Golden Empire. "Jan loved Camp Fire and Camp Gold Hollow, but most of all she loved working to give as many children as possible the Camp Gold Hollow experience. Jan gave her heart and soul to camp and the office," Roberta concluded. The memorial service for Jan was Saturday, July 26. A reception followed the service.

Camp Fire CEO Reviews Research From America's Promise Alliance

Recently Cathy Tisdale, Camp Fire President and CEO, was asked by John Gomperts, CEO of America's Promise, to write a review of the Alliance's newly published research, "Don't Call Them Dropouts." Cathy's review was posted on their website and distributed through social media.

Camp Fire Talent

Incoming Executive Directors
Jennifer Cowart, Camp Fire Southeast Texas, Woodville, Texas
Rebecca Kirner, Camp Fire Inland Northwest, Spokane Valley, Washington (Interim)

Correction from August:
Aaron Howerton (not Howeton) Panhandle Plains, Texas, Executive Director

Wohelo Recipients for June 2014

The Wohelo Award is the highest achievement for youth in Camp Fire. This prestigious award, specifically for teens in grades 9 through 12, offers opportunities for personal development, leadership, and advocacy on important issues. To ensure that each individual who has earned the Wohelo Award receives a letter and certificate from national headquarters, the council must submit a Wohelo Letter and Certificate Request Form for that person. Camp Fire councils must submit request forms at least 30 days prior to the presentation date. For more information or to submit a Wohelo candidate, contact Audrey Gralton, at (816) 285 2032 or audrey.gralton@campfire.org. Councils are also welcome to send in photos of the Wohelo Award recipients.

Camp Fire Puget Sound Wohelo Recipients

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound Recognizes Two Wohelo Recipients

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound held its annual CARE Dinner to honor outstanding youth and adult volunteers. Jessica Mannard and Stephanie Wilkinson were presented with their Wohelo Awards. In order to earn this prestigious award, youth must design and complete three service projects that demonstrate leadership, self-confidence, respect, and organizational skills as well as make a difference in their community. Jessica's and Stephanie's service projects included organizing a Grand Council Fire, supporting the RAHS National Honors Society, and leading various fundraisers. Jessica (right) plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering after graduation, while Stephanie will pursue a business and fashion merchandising degree.

Camp Fire President and CEO Joins Board of Academy of Education Arts and Sciences

Enthusiastically recommended by Nicole Taylor, CEO of Thrive Foundation, Cathy Tisdale recently joined an inspiring cadre of industry leaders whose task it is to vote–from a short list of nominees–for the recipients of the Bammy Awards. The awards are a cross-discipline recognition program for educators, spanning the entire education field and including teachers, principals, early childhood specialists, superintendents, advocates, school nurses, education professors, and more.

The Board of Governors currently includes National Geographic CEO Gary Knell; former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch; noted educator Linda Darling-Hammond; Dr. Timothy Shriver; author Dan Pink; PBS journalist John Merrow; and the executive directors of the leading national education associations, including National Parent Teacher Association, American Association of School Administrators, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and National School Board Association.

The award program is based on the idea that it takes a village to educate a child and that teachers can't do it alone. We need to recognize all of the people contributing to the process and applaud those who do so.

Camp Fire Council Has Strong Record of Service and Volunteer Engagement

Camp Fire Council Has Strong Record of Service and Volunteer Engagement

"America has a long and proud tradition of volunteer service. Now, more than ever, volunteers are renewing their commitment to help others and making new connections that bring us closer together as families, as neighbors, as communities, and as a nation," according to Rosemary Pezzuto, CEO, Camp Fire Patuxent Area Council.

During the past year, teens and adults in the Camp Fire council have contributed over 11,400 hours of service. On May 20th, 88 young people and 14 adults were awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Awards for their contributed service. These young people have cleaned rivers, assisted the elderly, taught children, served as advisors and mentors, participated in national service projects, supported their peers, created resources, helped the homeless, collected food for food drives, worked at camps, and much more.

Of the youth receiving awards, 65 had served 100 hours, 20 received recognition for 175 to 249 hours, and 17 received awards for over 250 hours. Adults receiving the Gold Award had completed 500 or more hours.

The President's Council on Service and Civic Participation was established in 2003 to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers are making in our communities and encourage more people to serve. The Council created the President's Volunteer Service Award program as a way to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. The program continues as an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Recognizing and honoring volunteers sets a standard for service, encourages a sustained commitment to civic participation, and inspires others to make service a central part of their lives.


The Wohelo Award is the highest achievement for youth in Camp Fire. This prestigious award, specifically for teens in grades 9 through 12, offers opportunities for personal development, leadership, and advocacy on important issues. To ensure that each individual who has earned the Wohelo Award receives a letter and certificate from national headquarters, the council must submit a Wohelo Letter and Certificate Request Form for that person. Camp Fire councils must submit request forms at least 30 days prior to the presentation date. For more information or to submit a Wohelo candidate, contact Audrey Gralton, at (816) 285-2032 or audrey.gralton@campfire.org. Councils are also welcome to send in photos of the Wohelo Award recipients.

Wohelo Recipients for May 2014

Camp Fire Heart of California, Madera, CA
Kaitlyn Allen

Camp Fire Long Beach Area, Long Beach, CA
Courtney Louise Ward, Brittany Marie West

Camp Fire Monticello, Monticello, IA
Kaitlin Bayne, Cecilia Bean, Taylor Marie Guthrie, Hanna Elizabeth Wall

Camp Fire Heart of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK
Emily Faulkner, Hayden Gilbert, Brook Martin, Marrisa Wright

Camp Fire Central Oregon, Bend, OR
Emma Bell, Amber Goemaat, Camille Stillwell

Camp Fire Wilani, Springfield, OR
Lizzy Hall

Camp Fire Balcones, Austin, TX
Morgan Howard, Izabel Wills

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound, Seattle, WA
Jessica Mannard, Stephanie Wilkinson

Camp Fire Inland Northwest, Spokane Valley, WA
Riley Ball, Katelynn Jentges, Sierra Lewis

Independence, Drive, and Determination Defined Camp Fire Leaders

Independence, Drive, and Determination Defined Camp Fire Leaders

Mary Bailey Pierce, a National Field Advisor for Camp Fire from 1967–1969, passed away on March 9. She was 87. According to her son Paul Pierce, who organized Mary's memorial service, held on May 17, "She was an incredible person who contributed her talents and abilities to numerous businesses and nonprofit organizations during her lifetime."

Val Ogden passed away in Vancouver, Washington, on April 9. Val was a passionate advocate for women, children, and the needful, and she did so with grace, dignity and compassion. Among her many roles as a volunteer, community leader and advocate, and politician, she was most proud of her role as a Camp Fire leader and as a "trouble-shooter" for Camp Fire councils in need of assistance. She was Executive Director of the "National Capitol Area" [Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.] 1964-1968, and a National Field Consultant, 1978-1981 and 1984-1985. According to former Camp Fire associate Barb Kubik, "Val was always ready to help Camp Fire in any way she could. Her advice was invaluable."

Lyn Lakin is On the Move

Lyn Lakin is On the Move
The Kansas City Business Journal recently recognized Lyn Lakin's appointment to Chief Operating Officer, Camp Fire National Headquarters. Lyn's previous role was Chief Advancement Officer.

Leadership Trickles Down

Teen service and leadership are vital to building healthy communities and a better world. Recognizing this, Camp Fire's Teen Service and Leadership Programs provide a variety of opportunities to help teens develop as effective and engaged citizens now.

Yet, our teens also learn from the leaders who lead them. A recent article from Forbes discusses the importance of first impressions and 14 things every leader should consider if they want to make that first impression a good one. Take a look and then ask yourself which ones you are doing and which ones you still need to fine-tune. Click here to read the Forbes article.

Strategies for Transformative Scale

A recent article from Stanford Social Innovation Review tackled the question, "How can we grow our impact to actually solve problems we care about?"

There's no simplistic, one-size-fits-all answer, yet pioneering organizations are finding approaches that work. Though they're not exhaustive, nor necessarily new, the ideas in the article build on solid progress and could lead to solutions with real impact. Review the nine approaches here.

Teens in Action Present at National Youth Leadership Event

On April 12, two teens from Camp Fire Patuxent Area Council, Sam Smith and Sardea Abdul, members of Teens in Action, made a presentation on Serving the Elderly Through Service Learning at the Give Back Day of Service: A Celebration of Global Youth Service Day. The event was hosted by Youth Service America. Their words were shared on the Washington, D.C., National Mall and were part of a fun, engaging event that offered direct service, connected community members, and provided a forum to hear from community leaders, including Camp Fire.

Camp Fire's Day of Service partners included the Peace Corps, D.C. Habitat for Humanity, Earth Force, generationOn, Special Olympics Project UNIFY, and other nonprofits addressing environmental, health and inclusion, and educational needs of the community.


The Wohelo Award is the highest achievement for youth in Camp Fire. This prestigious award, specifically for teens in grades 9 through 12, offers opportunities for personal development, leadership, and advocacy on important issues. To ensure that each individual who has earned the Wohelo Award receives a letter and certificate from national headquarters, the council must submit a Wohelo Letter and Certificate Request Form for that person. Please submit request forms at least 30 days prior to the presentation date. The form may be downloaded from the Camp Fire Compass Resource Library, or contact Audrey Gralton, at (816) 285 2032 or audrey.gralton@campfire.org. Councils are also welcome to send in photos of the Wohelo Award recipients.

New Talent to Help Drive Program Effectiveness

Debbie Zabica joined National Headquarters as Council Consultant on January 6, 2014. The focus of her work will be with councils in Texas and California as well as councils in the Northwest. Debbie comes with a wide breadth of experience working in the nonprofit sector. She has extensive experience with Girl Scouts, as Field Director, Membership Director, Executive Director, and, most recently, Chief Operating Officer. She has worked with Girl Scout councils in St. Joseph, Missouri, and numerous cities in Texas.

Americas Promise Alliance
Cathy Tisdale Helps Lead America's Promise

Thanks in part to Camp Fire Trustee Steve Culbertson, President and CEO, Youth Service America, Camp Fire President and CEO, Cathy Tisdale, was asked to become a trustee of America's Promise Alliance. The group consists of 60 leaders representing youth development, advocacy, public education, and foundations across the country. According to Cathy, "This is a great example of national trustees leveraging their relationships on Camp Fire's behalf!"

JJ Brown
Congratulations, JJ

This past month, JJ Brown officially began her term as National Youth Advisory Cabinet Chair. JJ's term will continue through December of 2015. JJ is a high school senior from Spokane, Washington. St. Ignatious said "Ite Inflamata Omnia" ("Go Forth and Set the World on Fire"). This is JJ's personal mission. She strongly believes that every child should have the opportunity to experience a week at camp at least once in their life, so she started her own charitable organization. Outdoor Opportunities—Camps for Kids raises money needed to provide camp scholarships, financially support camp programs, and provide camping gear to kids who need basics for camp. In her spare time, JJ volunteers at Camp Fire Inland Northwest's day camp as a lifeguard and has visited over 40 national parks. She is also the captain of her high school cheerleading team and a member of the prestigious Lilac Society.

Extraordinary Opportunity for Alaska CEO

Through the generosity of the Rasmuson Foundation, Barbara Dubovich, M.Ed., Chief Executive Officer, Camp Fire Alaska, is taking a sabbatical from her council work for approximately four months. Barb will be away from her office from February 5 until June 2, 2014.

The council's board of directors and Barb appointed Joanne Phillips-Nutter to serve as Camp Fire Alaska's Interim CEO during Barb's absence. Joanne currently serves as the council's Director of Marketing and Development. According to Barb, "She is deeply familiar with the workings of our council. I could not be more grateful for her leadership and commitment nor could I feel more confident that our great work will continue in my absence. "

ACA Awards

Ann Sheets, Camp Fire First Texas Senior Vice-President, Administration and Finance; and Carol Johnson, Assistant Executive Director of Camp Fire Snohomish County, recently received well-deserved awards from the American Camp Association (ACA). Ann's award, the Distinguished Service Award, is the highest ACA offers, and only one is presented each year. Carol's award, the National Honor Award, is equally impressive, with only three awarded each year.

ACA Awards
Award Criteria and Background

In 1965, the ACA National Board of Directors established a means for paying tribute to those who make extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the camp movement in the United States and who have played important roles in creating today's association. In 1991 the board updated all award criteria. Six recognition awards are currently presented at their national conference each year: the Distinguished Service Award, the Hedley S. Dimock Award, The Jack Weiner Award (approved in 2002), the Honor Award, the Service Award, and the Special Recognition Award. Another national award, the Eleanor Eells Award which honors outstanding programs, is also presented at that time.

Changes in Council Executive and Board Leadership

Incoming Board Presidents/Chairs
Joyce Moore, Camp Fire Iowana, Cedar Rapids, IA
Jameson Botimer, Camp Fire Northwest Ohio, Findlay, OH
Carolyn Eagan, Camp Fire Central Oregon, Bend, OR
Ben Doyle, Camp Fire Panhandle Plains, Amarillo, TX
Lisa Hensley, Camp Fire Central Coast of California, Arroyo Grande, CA
Inta "Maggie" Tolan, Camp Fire Georgia, Toccoa, GA
Teresa Ansley, Camp Fire Wilbarger County, Vernon, TX

Incoming Executive Director
Monica Hoffman, Camp Fire Oregon Trail, Pendleton, OR