Jessica Dunn's Speech at 2016 Annual Meeting

Camp Fire doesn’t have to look very far to realize our movement is full of thriving youth. They’re all around us—in camps, in afterschool programs, and accepting awards. Youth who thrive achieve their full potential. We’re proud of our youth. We’re proud to have helped.

Take a look at a recent speech by Jessica, a 16-year-old from Camp Fire Central Coast of California, who will receive her Wohelo Award this summer. The four defining components that frame Thrive{ology} are eloquently woven throughout her words—identify personal sparks, adopt a growth mindset, build goal management skills, and reflection.

As Jessica says, “Camp Fire has taught me lessons I would have never known, and Camp Fire has brought me relationships that will last a lifetime. Camp Fire is truly a way of life.”

Jessica Dunn’s Speech at the 2016 Camp Fire Central Coast of California Annual Meeting 

(Jessica, 16, will receive her Wohelo Award in the summer of 2016 and is the newest member of Camp Fire’s National Youth Advisory Board.)

It is said that Camp Fire provides a nurturing, constructive, and fun environment for young people to discover their sparks and adopt a growth mindset, bringing about our own course to healthy habits, community leadership, and connection to nature. And, in turn, Camp Fire youth give back by sharing those skills in their communities. Now I’m going to break that down into simpler terms and apply it directly to my Camp Fire Journey.

First, it really comes down to relationships. So many people in this room have influenced me and provided guidance and support through the years, and for that I’m forever grateful. Without these relationships, I would have only seen Camp Fire as just an afterschool program.

Next on my journey came discovery. Truly knowing who you are and who you are meant to be can be one of the hardest things to ever discover, and that’s why some never complete the task. But through Camp Fire’s adopted Thrive{ology} method, I was able to focus in on my core spark: helping others through acts of service and kindling that desire within me. Once I discovered it, I was ready to grow and apply.

Using community service and my Wohelo project as a base, I began to find myself and highlight my strengths along with my weaknesses. Any of those familiar with the Wohelo Award understand just how hard it is to summarize four years of hard work into a reasonable amount of time for tonight’s short presentation. So I’ll just say this: Each part had a lesson. My project became a guidebook for my life, teaching me how to make choices, how to establish a stable budget, how to plan for my future, how to stay “me” despite the pressures society puts on us, and more and more lessons.

Personally, one of my favorite parts of my book is two of my action plans: an Anti-Bullying campaign and teaching baking at our very own Camp Tacanneko. I have a spark for helping kids feel informed, loved, and safe. The Anti-Bullying Campaign helped the thriving youth in our community by providing insight into the world of bullying and active prevention methods, along with tools to remind themselves they are not alone. Baking, one of my most passionate hobbies, gave me an opportunity to teach something I love at camp: We had a four-day, one-hour baking class that taught how to be safe in the kitchen, how to make a variety of desserts, and how to bake with our hearts.

Camp Fire has helped me connect with nature in ways I never thought possible, Camp Fire has taught me lessons I would have never known, and Camp Fire has brought me relationships that will last a lifetime. Camp Fire is truly a way of life.

-Thanks, Jess