In 2019, Camp Fire held a series of focus groups with a diverse range of councils to dive into what experiences they were providing and what impact their programs were making. With the help of Algorhythm, an expert in youth development program evaluation, we explored what really happens at Camp Fire and in our programs, why it matters, the short-term and long-term benefits, and how to best communicate it all in a new way.

Through this process, we mapped out what we call internally our “program framework”, or The Camp Fire Journey.

“We’re getting clear on who we really are, not shifting directions,” explains Shawna Rosenzweig, Chief Strategy Officer at Camp Fire National Headquarters, as she described the Journey’s development process.  “We identified a core set of experiences that every young person should have as part of their time in Camp Fire,” Shawna reports.



Here’s what the Camp Fire Journey looks like:



These six powerful youth experiences (aka, what we do) include:

  • Experiential learning in, for, or about the community or outdoors
  • Diverse, equitable environments that are inclusive of all young people
  • Adults who prioritize youth
  • Spark discovery (interest exploration)
  • Peer-to-peer engagement
  • Goal Management


“We also identified a core set of skills and mindsets we want every young person to walk away from Camp Fire with,” Shawna says.



These seven essential skills and mindsets (our program outcomes that we measure) include:

  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Contribution
  • Social Skills
  • Self-Management
  • Positive Identity
  • Creative Thinking
  • Belonging


Then Camp Fire and Algorhythm dove into the research that ties those social-emotional learning (SEL) capabilities to long-term benefits for both individuals (like academic success and career readiness) and our communities (societal impact like environmental stewardship and engaged citizens).

“For the first time, we’re able to offer our councils a suite of research that backs up what they are doing: If we do this program, then this is likely to happen for young people,” Shawna explains. “And we also know how those young people then can make a positive societal impact.”

The Camp Fire Journey gives councils tangible tools to ensure their programming is delivering those six powerful youth experiences and teaching those seven essential skills and mindsets. It also assures parents that Camp Fire’s programming is intentional, powerful and designed to lead to their child’s life-long well-being. In addition, the Journey is a strong motivator for Camp Fire staff.

“It can help staff understand why what they do matters,” says Shawna. “You are going to impact this young person in their individual life and have an impact on society as a whole.”

In the coming year, we’ll be breaking down the Camp Fire Journey in more detail on the blog and our social media channels. Follow along as we chart a new course to “guide young people on their journey to self-discovery”—Camp Fire’s original mission.


*This blog originally appeared on