Every Camp Fire program employs the Thrive Theory of Change methodology, helping youth find their sparks and discover who they are. Our trained, caring adult leaders then nurture that discovery giving youth the tools they need to become leaders in their community, school, or their peer group today.Delivered before, during and after school, or in volunteer-led club settings,
Camp Fire programs include: conflict resolution, healthy lifestyle, digital literacy, community action, as well as mentoring and tutoring.Camp Fire offers outdoor leadership training for teens through our Counselor-in-Training (CIT) programs. In these programs teens learn how to work with youth and teach them important skills they will need to thrive.Camp Fire Out-of-School-Time programs provide youth with so much more than simply a place to go before and after school while parents work. When Camp Fire partners with your school, students have the opportunity to work with trained, caring adults who can help them with their school work, teach them about health and wellness, keep them active, engage them in community service projects, or provide mentoring regarding challenges youth face today. Our programs are uniquely focused to help youth thrive.

Intentional Parenting: Autopilot Is for Planes

A few years ago a parenting book was published called Intentional Parenting: Autopilot Is for Planes by David Thomas, Melissa Trevathan, and Sissy Goff [linked to free e-book.] I love that title and their tips are great! Suggestions like “Be aware of your expectations” and “Give them tools to deal with their emotions” are beneficial for any parent or guardian.

I believe that none of us ever intended to raise our children on auto-pilot. Matter of fact, most of us started out with definite ideas how to raise the ideal child. But then things happen.

First, I quickly discovered that my own daughters did not come with a “how to” manual like my cars do. It would have been much easier if I knew all the “built-ins” my girls had from the beginning; like being inclined to be artistic, athletic or scientific; stubborn or determined; helpful or wishful.

Secondly, as a parent my life got busy and complicated; schools, sports, family, work and more work. Intentional parenting began to wane due to my responding to the demands of living and surviving.

For my wife and I, our determination to raise children with “no regrets” and guide them in their own paths toward becoming Thriving adults, inspired us to connect with other parents, including our church family who encouraged us and held us accountable to our parental goals.

Since my tenure at Camp Fire, I’m continually amazed by the numerous time-tested resources that would have been incredibly valuable to my wife and I, early in our parenting journey. I would like to share with all of you, one idea that has the potential to make your best intentions of being an intentional parent, doable:

The 2018-2019 school year has begun. Camp Fire Clubs are beginning too. I want to encourage you to sign up your child for the new school year- or better yet, start a Camp Fire Club with your family and friends in your neighborhood.

Now you may be thinking, “Is this just adding to my busy schedule?” My answer to that question is that having your child join a Camp Fire Club is one of the best ways to raise your child as you’ve intended from the beginning.

Here are just a few of the ways Intentional Parents can have a positive impact upon their children as a natural result of connecting with Camp Fire:

Social Skills: 96% of youth in Camp Fire try to get along with other kids, even if they are different.
Life Skills: 78% of 6th-12th graders in Camp Fire said that they think through their decisions before acting on them.
Purpose: 80% of youth in Camp Fire want to make a difference in the world.

Yes, Clubs do fun things; but Camp Fire is more than something else to do: it’s a way of life. Children learn a lot about themselves, their community and the outdoors; they make great friends, and gain skills they will use throughout their lives. And Club families have the opportunity to encourage each other as Intentional Parents.

Through character-building activities and lessons, Camp Fire builds caring, confident youth and future leaders. As we pay attention to what Sparks a passion in each young life we serve, provide opportunities for personal growth, and create a place for children to belong, Camp Fire helps bring out the best in each child.

Our mission statement expresses it this way;

Young people want to shape their world. Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are. In Camp Fire, it begins now. Light the fire within.

Light the fire within! At Camp Fire, that’s what we do. We listen, we encourage, and we provide the opportunity to uncover each young person’s unique interests. We help youth become the exceptional people they are destined to be, buoyant with potential to do anything they dream of doing.

Camp Fire Clubs and programs encourage youth to:

•    Become tomorrow’s leaders
•    Build character
•    Realize their potential
•    Learn skills they can use their whole life
•    Discover and enjoy new hobbies
•    Give back through community service
•    Think of others
•    Be non-competitive and inclusive
•    Think for themselves
•    Accept responsibility
•    Show initiative
•    Become self-reliant and self-confident
•    Use their voice to make a positive impact upon others
•    Set personal goals; change course where needed; reflect upon accomplishments

Everyone is welcome in Camp Fire; boys and girls, teens, Moms, Dads and family members. For more information on raising great kids in intentional ways, call the Camp Fire office and ask for Cheri, 805-773-5126. You will be a step closer to being the parent you intended to be.

  |Click to see Camp Fire's Hiking Schedule|

Three-quarters of children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates –

A couple of years ago Time Magazine published a study entitled, Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates.

The article in Time Magazine includes findings from a survey of 2,000 parents in United Kingdom: nearly three quarters of children are spending less than one hour outside every day. About 20% are not going outside at all on a regular basis. U.N. guidelines mandate that prisoners receive “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily.”

“The truth is we are enclosing our children,” Mark Sears, an advocate for “wild play,” told the paper. “We are stifling their ability to be free, to be at their best as children and it is having significant impacts.”

Here in the United States, parents and pediatricians are concerned about screen time too. An article by the Center for Parenting Education suggests that, while the internet is beneficial for today’s children and teens, too much time in front of a screen comes with many unwelcome drawbacks. 

For over 80 years Camp Fire Central Coast has consistently provided quality outdoor experiences for children and teens. Through outdoor learning, leadership, community service, and creativity Camp Fire youth dig deep inside and discover their "Sparks," their personally defined nuggets of potential. Whether in the classroom or after school, we listen, we encourage, and we provide the opportunity to uncover each young person's unique interests. We help youth become the exceptional people they are destined to be, buoyant with potential to do anything they dream of doing.

Camp Fire encourages children to set down their electronic devises and discover the wonder of the outdoors. This year alone, we’ve brought more than a thousand children and youth to the outdoors. About 60 children and their families attended a weekend camp at Camp Cielo by Lopez Lake. 200 children attended Camp Tacanneko day camp at Camp Arroyo Grande. More than 800 children and families participated in Camp Natoma, our beloved summer camp. 40 youth and their families hiked the eastern side of the Sierra Mountains. Our weekend community hikes served approximately 70 families; and through our classroom youth leadership program, 40 at risk youth took their first hike.

One of Camp Fire’s at-risk teen participants shared, "I've never been on a hike before. I was afraid that I couldn't keep up, but I did!"

“I believe the outdoors is the best classroom for children and families.” says Ken Miles, Executive Director. “What better place is there to learn about the environment and oneself?”

A large percentage of Camp Fire opportunities occur in the outdoors each year. Helping a young person become who they want to be takes time and encouragement, as well as opportunities to grow and explore. It takes paying attention to what sparks a passion. Camping or just taking a hike can open the door of self-discovery.

Portland State University studies show children who have extensive outdoor experiences, especially English learning students, are more likely to show up to school, and afterward, are more confident at public speaking, more interested in volunteer opportunities, develop critical thinking skills and are more likely to use conflict resolution skills with their peers.

Friends of Camp Fire understand the power and awe of being outdoors. Here are some amazing ways the Camp Fire community has helped young people explore their environment:

   •  Through the generosity of many local individuals and businesses, $20,000 in camperships were donated for children and youth who could not afford to go to camp.

   •  This year, nearly 100 volunteers have given countless hours, time and energy. Many spent time working directly with youth during the school year or summer; others cleared brush and maintained camp facilities; still others offered their expertise for projects like a new solar system at Natoma, an eco-friendly “loo,” and countless projects- large and small; and others worked behind the scenes preparing for events and fundraisers including our Fireworks Fundraiser in July.

THANK YOU! You truly have made a difference in the lives of children and youth on the Central Coast.


Kenneth D. Miles, Executive Director

Delivered before, during and after school, or in volunteer-led club settings, Camp Fire programs include: conflict resolution, healthy lifestyle, digital literacy, community action, as well as mentoring and tutoring. Long-held conventional wisdom suggests camp offers a powerful growth experience for young people and a connection to nature. As Charles Elliot, former president of Harvard University noted in 1922, “I have a conviction that a few weeks spent in a well-organized summer camp may be of more value educationally than a whole year of formal school work.” A 2005 research study, led by Philliber Research Associates in collaboration with the American Camp Association, supports Elliot’s conviction, finding strong scientific evidence that camp is a positive force in youth development. The study proves that camp experiences benefit youth in the following ways:

  • Youth become more confident and experience increased self-esteem.
  • Youth develop more social skills, which helps them make new friends.
  • Youth grow more independent and show more leadership qualities.
  • Youth become more adventurous and willing to try new things.

Camp Fire Central Coast environmental and camp opportunities include:

Community Hikes

Camp Natoma

Camp Tacanneko

Camp Cielo

Good Sam Camp

OWLS: Outdoor Wilderness Leadership & Survival