Category Archives : Food For Thought

Thank you, Sarah Saunders for saving a child’s life!

Snack Time

Camp Fire Central Oregon would like to recognize Sarah Saunders for successfully administering abdominal thrusts in order to save a child from choking at Juniper Elementary School. Sarah is a Camp Fire Club Leader at Juniper. We are incredibly proud of her efforts, and applaud her for thinking clearly and acting decisively in a time of crisis.

Of course, this scenario is not uncommon. “On average, a child will die every 5 days in the United States from choking on food.” (1) While this is truly a frightening statistic for any parent, there are steps and preventative measures that can be taken to decrease the risk of a choking injury death.

Choking deaths are very preventable, yet many caregivers simply do not know the proper steps to take in order to ensure a child’s safety. It is important to communicate with anyone who is in direct contact with your child in a caregiver role. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially siblings who are caring for one another should all be aware of how to prevent choking related injury deaths.

Camp Fire’s Babysitter Training Course is an important tool to help get young people ready for the responsibility of caring for younger children. Even a seasoned babysitter can have misinformation and gaps of knowledge, so we recommend that all young people, even those who have been caring for younger siblings for years now, consider joining us for this course. It is essential for young babysitters to learning about choking preventative measures, basic first aid, and how to react calmly and decisively in a time of crisis – just as Sarah Saunders did.

If you are a parent of a young child, ask your babysitter if they have undergone any training. At the end of our Babysitter Training Course, each young person will receive a certificate of completion. If you already have a babysitter that you and your children adore, yet discover that they have not gone through any training, you may consider offering to sign them up for this course.

Learn more about our Babysitter Training Course now!




1. Science Daily. Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children.


The Joy of Camp: A Conversation with Cece Valceschini

Nestled in the remote outskirts of Bend, Oregon, Tumalo State Park sits on just over 330 acres of High Desert wilderness. It is a local hot spot for camping, hiking, and summer barbecues. It is also the location of Camp Fire Central Oregon’s Tumalo Day Camp, a week-long experience that serves to connect young people to nature, themselves, and new friends in an outdoor learning environment. “It’s just the best thing about summer,” explains Cece Valceschini, Camp Fire Central Oregon’s Program Director, “and it’s literally right here in our own backyard. Kids don’t have to travel very far to get a really meaningful outdoor experience.” In fact, hundreds of young people from across Central Oregon flock to Tumalo Day Camp each year, many of them with parents in tow. “What some people don’t realize is that when you volunteer as a Camp Counselor, your kids can attend camp for free.” Cece enthusiastically points out; “That’s a huge deal to a lot of families who normally couldn’t afford something like this. It evens out the field and makes camp about the kids, not about the money.” Of course, Camp Fire strives to offer financial assistance to as many families as possible each year. Last year, thanks to a generous donation from the Clabough Foundation, $10,000 worth of financial aid was awarded to families so their children could attend Tumalo Day Camp.

Once at camp, the fun truly begins. “Our Counselors In Training really run the show,” Cece admits:

“When camp actually starts, the adults take a back seat. It’s great! We let the kids guide themselves through a lot of their own activities. We make sure they’re safe, and offer guidance when needed, but really, we try to let them learn things on their own, and do a lot of the activities together, without too much adult intervention. Kids just learn better by doing, and it’s so fun to let them try new things. Of course, we do have adults teaching each group certain things. For example, I’ll teach compass and survival skills.”  –Cece Valceschini

Each group at camp has a Counselor In Training (CIT). These are middle-school and high-school students who have gone through multiple training courses, and even camped out overnight to learn all the things that they will be expected to teach the younger kids in their groups. The CIT’s act as mentors. It seems to be a winning formula, and has been a tradition at Tumalo Day Camp for many years.



A CIT leading her group in a performance skit at Tumalo Day Camp.













CIT’s seem to work their way up the ranks year after year. Amber Goemaat, now a student at the University of Oregon, was once a camper, then went on to become a Counselor In Training. She dedicated her summers to Camp Fire and eventually became the CIT Director the year before heading off to college. It was a great thing to put on her application. Amber attributes many of her leadership experiences at Camp Fire with helping her to secure a full ride scholarship to the U of O.

“That’s just the culture of Camp Fire,” says Cece. “It’s more like a community, and kids feel like they belong. The experiences that they have stay with them for a long time. I’ve seen so many kids completely break out of their shells, so many of them come to us just painfully shy, but after a while they really surprise me.” Sometimes this transformation takes a little time. “When I first met Camille years ago, she was so, so shy. She could hardly talk! But after a while, she really opened up. She started becoming more confident, and just last year she was in a leadership role helping us to run the SummerKids program.”

It’s easy to see why Camp Fire has played an active role in the Central Oregon community for over 100 years now.


Get in on the summer fun and CLICK HERE to sign up for Tumalo Day Camp now!

Also, check out SummerKids HERE – It’s better than childcare; it’s a place to grow all summer long.


Everyone gets into Pirate Day!

Cece seen here in a costume during a Pirate themed day at Tumalo Day Camp – even the adults get in on the fun!

Game Blog – Why Summer Learning Matters

Don’t forget to scroll down for links to eight fun games you can play with your child this summer!

Beginning at the age of four, the average child has the ability to learn up to six words per day.1 By third grade, most children can map out a complex dance routine, then repeat it—which makes for a wonderful skill at a talent show. While there are many steps on the ladder of early childhood development, only one thing can be certain: in order for your child to learn something new, they must be exposed to it.

Over the summer, children typically lose two months’ worth of educational knowledge. This phenomenon has been called “Summer Slide” by experts, and while all young people experience it, those who are exposed to educational activities during the summer typically have an advantage when school starts back up in the fall.2

Luckily, there are steps that parents can take to combat Summer Slide and keep their children’s minds active in the warm months to come. Playing a game that supports creative thinking can be a fun way to stimulate your child’s mind. Below is an example of a game that is suitable for ages four and up:

Game: Silly Comic Strip

Minimum number of players needed: Three

Materials needed: One piece of paper and pen/pencil for each person (that’s it!)

How to play: Write one sentence at the very top of your paper (the sillier the better). Pass the paper to the person on your left. You will now have someone else’s paper, with their sentence on it, in front of you. Now draw a picture that represents that sentence. Carefully fold the top of the paper back, hiding the original sentence. Pass the paper to your left again. You will now have a new piece of paper with a picture at the top. Write down one sentence that you believe represents what is happening in that picture. Fold the top of the paper back, hiding the picture. Pass the paper to your left – continue to repeat this process until there is no more room on the page, or you get your original paper back. Unfold the page and get ready to laugh!

TIP: When drawing your picture, make sure to leave enough room below for a sentence description, as well as other pictures down the line.

Fight summer slide! Outdoor learning is a great way to keep young minds active and engaged. Camp Fire Central Oregon offers many opportunities for young people to get outside, learn, stay active, play, and meet new friends. We now offer an exciting new Pick Your Days program for SummerKids. And don’t forget to sign up for a week of outdoor learning at Tumalo Day Camp! Whatever your schedule is this summer, Camp Fire will be there.


Looking for more fun game to play with your child this summer? You’re in luck! Click the links below and let the fun begin:

Balloon Ball


Alpine Caper

Black Magic 

The Game of Shapes


Superheroes & Villains 

Human Knot




1. PBS, Child Development Tracker, Your Three Year Old

2. National Summer Learning Association, Know The Facts,

Time Well Spent – Camp Fire Teen tells about her experience with the YAC

McKenzie Napier tells all about her time spent on Camp Fire’s Youth Advisory Council

By the age of 16, most teens are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in to the world. Camp Fire’s McKenzie Napier is no different. She keeps herself extremely busy between Nordic Skiing competitions by being an active member of her school’s leadership council, speech and debate team, and Camp Fire’s Work Health Love (WoHeLo) program. It’s clear that Napier has a strong head of steam. She’s determined to make a difference in her community, and learn how to be a leader. That’s why she decided to join Camp Fire’s National Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

Soft spoken and extremely bright, Napier has decided to lead by example, proving that young people can participate in more than one extracurricular commitment at a time. Her term with the YAC began in January, and she has been participating in regular phone meetings ever since. “Every few weeks we have a conference call and we go over whatever we’re working on that week,” she explains. Right now, Napier and her group, consisting of other teens from around the nation, are working toward revising Camp Fire’s WoHeLo program, the very program she is now a part of here in Bend. She is one of 12 young people who have been accepted to the YAC this year. The competition was stiff, and not all who applied were selected. The other participants are working on projects that range from planning for Absolutely Incredible Kid Day, to ensuring that Camp Fire councils from around the nation can communicate more efficiently with each other. “That’s basically our job,” Napier points out, “to help advise Camp Fire National on programs.  We make sure they’re still relevant and functioning.”

Of course, they have some help along the way. Each new YAC member is paired up with someone who participated in this program in the past. Napier’s mentor, a senior in High School, lives in Florida. “She’s really nice,” Napier acknowledges. “She checks in to make sure everything is going well.”

When asked if she believes that the YAC has had a positive impact on her life so far, Napier enthusiastically replies; “Oh yeah, definitely because I feel like it’s really difficult for teens to have an influence on things. Being in YAC allows me to be around a lot of other like-minded teens who want to have a positive impact.”


For more information on how you, or someone you know can get involved in Camp Fire, contact us today. Or check out some of these great teen programs:

Teens In Action

Counselor In Training (Summer)


Camp Fire Culture: The Top 3 Things You Should Know

If you’re a parent, then chances are your relationship with fall is a little different now than when you were a kid. Sure, the changing leaves, crisp mornings, and shorter days continue to instill a sense of wonder and excitement in you for the colder weather ahead – you may have even readied your stock of hot cocoa and blankets a little early this year! But one thing that has probably changed over time is the amount of decisions you find yourself making this time of year as your household shifts from summer to school-year activities.  It can be exhausting to research different after-school programs, shuffle schedules around, arrange transportation, figure out childcare for younger kids, and still have time to make sure everyone in your family is eating healthy foods and getting enough outdoor time. We get it! And we’re here to help.

Camp Fire has been around for over a century. That means we’ve had over 100 years of experience getting kids ready for the bright futures ahead of them, watching them grow, find their sparks, and thrive. Camp Fire Members have access to all of our special events, programs, childcare options, classes, and family resources, but membership means much more than all these things combined: When you join Camp Fire, you become part of a culture of caring. Young people learn how important it is to give service, make lasting friendships, and create goals that are aligned with their passions.

If you’ve ever wondered just what Camp Fire is, or how we’re different than any of the other after-school clubs/programs out there, then you’re not alone! To shed a little light on this topic, so you can make the best after-school choice for you and your family, we present…


The Top 3 Things You Should Know About Camp Fire

download (6)












#1. Camp Fire is all about THRIVE 

NOTE: Camp Fire is the only youth organization in Central Oregon that is operating based on a Thrive model

Woven into every Camp Fire experience is our proven framework for thriving. We call it Thrive{ology}. It is a research-based, measurable approach to youth development. Created in partnership with the Thrive Foundation for Youth. Our approach enables youth to achieve their full potential through four components:

1. Identify Sparks – Identifying Sparks and Spark Champions (a caring adult who is invested in a child’s future)

2. Growth – Adopting a growth mindset (the belief that you can learn new skills and get better at them all the the time)

3. Goals – Building goal management skills

4. Reflect – Creating the opportunity to reflect on activities and outcomes (understanding what worked and what didn’t is essential for growth)

Equipped with these skills, and with the support of trained, caring adults, Camp Fire participants are more likely to:

  • Stay in school
  • Demonstrate social competence
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Be environmentally conscious
  • Have a sense of purpose
  • Achieve their full potential

Youth often see Camp Fire staff as their spark champions. In a recent survey, 83% of youth said that adults in Camp Fire encouraged them to explore the things they are interested in, and 82% of youth said adults in Camp Fire help them solve problems instead of telling them what to do.

DayCamp 042







#2. Camp Fire’s motto is Give Service

There are many reasons why young people may choose to give service. Whether it’s for resume building, graduation requirements, or simply because it’s fun and fulfilling, Camp Fire provides plenty of opportunities for young people of all ages to give back to their community.

At Camp Fire, giving service starts at a young age. Kids in our clubs can start service learning projects as early as Kindergarten. Young people in Clubs earn emblems and awards based on the service projects they complete. Just a few of the awesome service projects that have happened recently include:

  • Valentines for Veterans – This annual event is family friendly! Every year we create hundreds of Valentines Day Cards for US Veterans around the world
  • Chili Feed to benefit the homeless in Prineville
  • Teen Fundraiser & Pet Food Drive to benefit the Humane Society’s Pet Food Assistance Program – Helping low income families keep and feed their pets
  • Birthday Party Services – Teens throwing birthday parties for homeless youth in Central Oregon
  • Essential Items Donation Baskets – for homeless teens in Central Oregon

Every grade has age-appropriate service-learning activities and projects that fit great into an after-school schedule!













#3. Camp Fire is Inclusive 

Inclusion can mean a lot of different things in today’s society, so we’re more than happy to make it really clear what we mean when we say that Camp Fire is for everyone:

  • Camp Fire is for boys and girls, ages 4 – 18
  • Camp Fire is for young people of all sexual, racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds
  • Camp Fire is for families – this means that parents, grandparents, and siblings are all welcome at our fun (non-program) events (and there’s A LOT of them throughout the year!)

Camp Fire’s Statement of Inclusion: Camp Fire works to realize the dignity and worth of each individual and to eliminate human barriers based on all assumptions that prejudge individuals. Designed and implemented to reduce sexual, racial, religious, and cultural stereotypes and to foster positive intercultural relationships, in Camp Fire, everyone is welcome. 


Top 5 Reasons to Join A Camp Fire Club This Fall

Don’t let this warm weather fool you; Fall is making a comeback as she slowly creeps into Central Oregon. Some of the leaves have already begun to change, and the morning air has been gradually getting chillier– have you noticed? Very soon, t-shirts and bathing suits will be replaced with sweaters and hot-chocolate. While not all of the changes are noticeable, some of them are so glaringly obvious that they’re difficult to ignore, no matter how hard you may try!

Somewhere over the course of summer, your second grader may have turned into a third grader, your sixth grader into a seventh grader, and your four year old may have taken his/her first steps toward kindergarten. Summer-to-fall can feel bittersweet. Kids grow up so fast, and the transition this time of year is never easy.

Luckily, there are many places you can turn to, and resources available that can help you along the way. One of those places is Camp Fire. We have a wealth of knowledge, and the resources you need to ensure that your children thrive throughout the entire year.


Top 5 Reasons to Join A Camp Fire Club This Fall:

1. Make new friends

Ask anyone who was in Camp Fire as a kid and they will tell you all about the fun things they did with their friends while in Club. From camping and hiking to crafting and candy sales, clubs encourage young people to enjoy their time together, be themselves, and appreciate each other for the diversity and differences that make them unique. Our clubs are special because they are for boys and girls of all ages, and all walks of life.

Camp Fire Central Oregon, Discovery Club 2015














From pre-K through 12th Grade, being in a Camp Fire Club is a great way for any kid to make new friends, or simply spend more quality time with their buddies from school.

2. Find your spark

Do you know your child’s spark? Is it the creative life, sports, social justice, or the pursuit of knowledge? Do they have more than one spark? More than two?

These are the questions that are essential to ask if youth are going to truly thrive. At Camp Fire, we have over a century of experience helping youth to discover the things they love in life, as well as guiding them and instructing them on how to implement those things into their daily lives in a productive, engaging way.


Clubs do many activities throughout the year that are meant to help kids find their spark. Above, Cece and a group of Camp Fire kids give nature a helping hand by cleaning up a park.
















Camp Fire Clubs are an excellent way to help your kids discover what they are passionate about. We do this by providing a broad range of activities, projects, and progressions that are all completed within the course of one year. Every child in a Camp Fire Club has access to a trained and caring adult mentor who is there to encourage their growth and development as they seek out and identify their spark(s).

3. Give service 

Camp Fire’s motto is “Give Service.” We believe that an important part of growing up is learning how to help others. The young people in Camp Fire Clubs can be seen giving back to the community year-round. As they get older, Club participants begin to plan their own service-learning projects.

Valentines camp

Making Valentines Day Cards for veterans is a favorite service project among Camp Fire kids each year.
















Giving service feels good, and for many kids, it’s a large part of who they are. Clubs provide the opportunity for young people to figure out what types of community issues they are passionate about, as well as what an enormous positive impact they can have on the lives of others.

4. Gear up for the future 

Camp Fire has been around for over a century, making us one of the oldest youth organizations in the nation. Studies have shown that young people who participate in Camp Fire programs, such as Clubs, are more likely to:

-Stay in school

-Demonstration social competence

-Lead a healthy lifestyle

-Be environmentally conscious

-Have a sense of purpose

-Achieve their full potential

pic 3

End of school year Grand Council Fire Ceremony, 2015
















It’s easy to see how Camp Fire Clubs allow for growth and positive advancement in the lives of our young people. With the help of trained, caring adults, Camp Fire kids are able to identify their spark, adopt a growth mindset, build goals and management skills, and take time to productively reflect on the outcomes of each project they complete. All of these things together help youth to thrive.

5. Get involved  

There are countless ways to get involved in your child’s life, but Camp Fire Clubs offer some of the easiest, most time-tested methods out there. You don’t have to be a Club Leader to be involved (although it sure helps!). We believe that family activities are an important part of growing up and maintaining positive communication with your kids throughout the years, that’s why we offer many inclusive, family-friendly events and encourage parents to attend.

Opening up a strong line of communication with your child now – as soon as you can – is so important to the health and well being of your entire family. Knowing who your kids are hanging out with, who is supervising them, and where you can turn to if there is an issue is extremely valuable. We believe that all young people deserve the opportunity to grow, find their spark, and thrive, but you, as the parent, are a big part of that equation, and we value your involvement in Camp Fire and your child’s life.

A group of pirates at Tumalo Day Camp

Tumalo Day Camp 2015 – Hundreds of young people participate in this all-volunteer run camp each year!














To learn more and register for a Camp Fire Club, CLICK HERE.

Outdoor School Bill – How You Can Take Action

The Outdoor School Bill promises one week of outdoor learning for every 5th and 6th grader in Oregon–but it needs your support. If you feel passionately about this issue, then you can visit Outdoor School For All to learn more.

If you can put to words what Outdoor School would mean to you, or how outdoor learning has positively shaped you as a person, then you can write a letter of support for the Outdoor School Bill here. These letters must be received by April 30th.


For many people, living in Central Oregon comes with a few perks: the mountains are close, the rivers are wild, and there is something fun to do outside no matter what time of year it is–as long as you don’t mind snow in the winter, or scorching heat in the summer. This is a beautiful place, with a high concentration of adventurous, friendly, outdoorsy folk. Yet even here, in the land of sunshine and mountainous beauty, many children are unable to experience nature in a way that might add value and meaning to their lives.

The Outdoor School Bill promises to change that by ensuring that all 5th and 6th grade students will be able to attend a week of Outdoor School each year. The impact this would have on our state, our community, and the individual children living in our neighborhoods is huge. It would allow 5th and 6th grade students to learn about, and form a relationship with, nature at a very critical time in their development.

At Camp Fire, we have always recognized the importance of outdoor learning. Just last year, thanks to a generous donation from the Clabough Foundation, we were able to provide $15,000 in financial aid scholarships to children who otherwise would not have been able to attend day camp. The kids who attended our outdoor program learned about nature and ecology; they gained valuable outdoor skills like cooking over a fire and orienteering; they spent an entire week outside, engaged and in touch with the natural world, instead of indoors, playing video games or watching television. They sang songs, performed skits, set up tents, slept under the stars, and made new friends.



Join the Conversation: What It Takes For Youth to Thrive

This article was originally printed in The Bulletin‘s 2015 Summer Youth Activity Guide.


Never Neverland

What is your child’s spark? Most parents can identify the things that make their children happy, but it is less common for parents to have deliberate and structured conversations with their kids about what gives their lives purpose. Many of the interactions that adults have with children revolve around goals that, while important, do not help young people to further their knowledge and appreciation of what makes them unique. Grades and test scores, chores and responsibilities, work-ethics and money management are all things that kids need guidance on, but there is something even more important to human development than these obligations: Thriving.

“The language of human thriving,” according to Dr. Peter Benson, positive youth development pioneer, begins “when you actually listen to people’s statements about their dreams for [their] kids….”(1) Sure, parents want their children to be successful, but when you really dig down into it, Benson acknowledges that what parents are really interested in is raising “kids who experience joy… who are connected and engaged… who fall in love with their life… kids with kindness and generosity, kids who are happy, kids who contribute.”(1) These are all products of a greater self-awareness that can be encouraged to grow within a child under the right conditions.

At Camp Fire, we have spent 115 years furthering the development of these conditions. Over time, we have learned that a Spark is something to be discovered and celebrated. First, we help kids to identify their Spark. We then assist them in developing a growth mindset, which enables youth to confidently learn new things and explore their Spark without the fear of failure. We help young people set goals that are centered around their Spark. Finally, we give them a chance to reflect upon the process they went through, the activities they participated in, and the outcome that happened as a result.(2)

A Spark can be anything that makes a child happy and gives them a sense of purpose. For some kids, their Spark is centered on movement; activities such as sports and dance become their passions. For others, nature and environmental stewardship instills a sense of excitement and joy within them. Whatever their Spark, it is important that a caring adult is there to help them identify, develop, and celebrate it. Camp Fire provides the opportunity for kids to participate in the activities they love, and explore new things that could someday become future passions. Under the supervision of trained and professional staff, young people engage in the conversation as they answer the question: “What is your spark?”

We would like to invite your kids to experience Camp Fire’s summer programs this year, where themed weeks at SummerKids help them explore a variety of Sparks, and Tumalo Day Camp nurtures a connection to the natural world that so many young people crave.

We would like to invite your kids to find their Spark at one of Camp Fire’ summer programs this year. Whether it’s at SummerKids, Tumalo Day Camp, Adventure Challenge, or all three, we’ll help them light the fire within.



  1. Dr. Peter Benson, “TEDxTC – Peter Benson – Sparks: How Youth Thrive” Youtube,
  2. Camp Fire, “Our Framework Ensures That Youth Thrive,” Camp Fire,

Community Spotlight: The Giving Plate

Today Hunger Is Everywhere… Even Here in Central Oregon.


Hunger exists everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live—hunger has no boundaries. All real people. All struggling to get enough to eat.

Over 50 million Americans live in food-insecure households. That’s 1 in 6 people who do not know where their next meal is coming from. In Oregon we have the 3rd highest percentage of people on food stamps in the U.S. And 30% of all children in Oregon are food-insecure. Here in Bend, 10.5% of all individuals live under the national poverty line. That’s over 5,380 people right here in our own backyard.

Since opening its doors in April 2010, The Giving Plate has tried to ease this burden by providing an emergency monthly food box to over 26,000 families. Each box contains about 4-5 days worth of food. Food box delivery is also available to those who are home bound.

Through the Color-Me-Full Kids Free Lunch Program we provide a weekly bag of nutritious food to any hungry child. This is offered every Saturday at our primary location in Scandia Square and also in Deschutes River Woods.

In an environment of compassion & encouragement, the goal of The Giving Plate is to never turn-away anyone who’s hungry. But as the busiest food bank in Central Oregon, we need everybody’s help. Whether through donations or volunteering—a team effort is necessary. If you’re interested in helping as an individual or part of a group, please call 541-410-3086.

The Giving Plate Logo