Jan. 10, 2023


The new, Redmond-based team advances to state, wins ‘Core Values’ Award 

Bend, Ore. – For the third year in a row, Camp Fire Central Oregon has experienced big wins in its robotics program, most recently coming away from the FIRST® LEGO® League Robotics SUPERCHALLENGE Tournament with not just the opportunity to advance to the state championship but an important award in hand.

Camp Fire Central Oregon sent four teams totaling nearly 30 kids in early December to the Bend-based regional tournament. There, its “Team Tectonic Plates” earned the chance to advance to the upcoming state competition and also received the “Core Values Award” for demonstrating the FIRST® philosophies of "Gracious Professionalism" and "Cooperation" through its Core Values of Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork and Fun.

“So many of the FIRST® Core Values align with the values of Camp Fire Central Oregon, so it was really exciting to experience that synergy and connection around values, not to mention the exciting challenges presented by the tournament itself,” says Javier Leiva, Camp Fire CentralOregon’s technology program manager. “All of us—the kids, their families and friends, Coach Andrew Navarre and the rest of our Camp Fire staff are really proud of this accomplishment.”

The win, plus the mindset and abilities that achieved it, collectively reflects the positive, research-supported impacts of robotics and STEM, which are proven to help kids think outside the box, practice innovation, and problem-solve both individually and as a team. It also helps robotics kids like Gavin Schultz, a “Team Tectonic Plates” member, gain life-long perspectives and thrive in the face of competitive challenges.

“The competition was a really fun kind of stress,” Schultz says. “"I'm super happy that we advanced to State, but I would have had just as much fun even if we didn't. I think Lego Robotics is really awesome!"

Of note, Camp Fire Central Oregon’s robotics program has recently benefited from a greatly appreciated boost in funding thanks to donors and key sponsors, including: Lonza, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation, the Braemar Charitable Trust, and the Central Oregon Health Council. The funding has gone directly to the robotics program expansion, allowing the nonprofit to offer more tech programs, including more teams throughout Central Oregon. In fact, the winning team was a brand-new group of kids from throughout the area, based out of Redmond, Ore.

In addition, sponsorship dollars—made possible through such donations—support scholarships, making robotics programs more accessible to all kids in Central Oregon. Camp Fire Central Oregon hosts a number of year-round and summer tech programs of varying levels for a fee, plus occasional clinics where kids can explore their interest in robotics for free.

The Tectonic Plates will head to Hillsboro, Ore., on Saturday, January 14 to compete in the state competition.

Javier Leiva, Technology Program Manager | Camp Fire Central Oregon, (971) 915-3189

Katie Roberts, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator | Camp Fire Central Oregon, (303) 709-2912

About Camp Fire Central Oregon
Founded in 1910, Camp Fire is a national organization that actively engages youth and teens in building essential skills for life. Camp Fire Central Oregon has been a local leader in youth development since 1916. The organization provides co-ed out-of-school time, teen service and leadership, camp and environmental programs. Young people want to shape the world. Camp Fire provides the opportunity to help them find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are.



When it came to physical health, we renovated bathrooms, paved walkways, and made other camp updates. When it came to child safety and abuse prevention, we continued to refine our national and local policies and procedures, working closely with youth protection experts at Praesidium, the national leader in abuse risk management. This continues to be a huge priority so we can meet the highest standards or have a clear path to get there.

And when it came to mental and emotional health, the toll and isolation of COVID-19 was immense; the U.S. Surgeon General just declared children’s mental health a national crisis, releasing a Youth Mental Health Advisory. To make sure we were ready for young people, we formed a new partnership with On Our Sleeves to offer mental health resources to our network. We also continued to expand education around the power of developmental relationships from The Search Institute. We focused program efforts around creating a safe space, the foundation for youth engagement and interaction, and measured for quality using Weikart Center’s Program Quality Assessment tool.

As we worked through our strategic plan that kicked off in early 2021, we also focused on equity. We addressed equity in both our professional development and in our programming, and we also worked on connecting social-emotional learning (SEL) to equity and explaining to our network why it matters for young people.

Lastly, we know that when a young person gets outside, magic happens. No matter how young people experience the outdoors — as something awesome and powerful to behold or something that catalyzes relationships with self or others, it is a place that everyone can access. It is a tool for positive youth development, and you can find the results and impact in these pages.

We all need connection. Despite COVID-19 and its barriers, Camp Fire was able to connect 68,546 youth and their families to the outdoors, to others, and to themselves, over the past year. We hope you enjoy this report and see the life-giving connections that make this work so important.




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