Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gratitude to Community and Camp Fire

I owe a lot to my community. I also owe a lot to a youth organization, Camp Fire Boys & Girls. My kids grew up to be pretty decent individuals and contributing members of society through their membership in Camp Fire and because of the support of our community.

Our neighborhood is a very interesting place to live. When my kids were small, it was a mixture of retired couples (who treated my children like their own grandchildren), people from various ethnic groups who got a start in our little neighborhood and then moved on to better things, and the gangs. You could not get a more "random" mix of people if they were computer selected at random. As a matter of fact, the high school my kids attended is the most "diverse" high school in the nation (or so I'm told).

It became apparent very quickly that it was either sink or swim with my kids. Either we got them involved in something that taught good principles and kept them out of trouble, or they would be a gang statistic. Thus entered Camp Fire Boys & Girls. Camp Fire takes kids from kindergarten to senior in high school. So my kids literally grew up in Camp Fire.

The kids LOVED Camp Fire camp. Since my husband is not a camper, Camp Fire camp provided a unique experience for my kids that they would not have received any other way. We weren't rich, by any stretch of the imagination, and even though Camp Fire tried to keep their costs down, camp cost times four kids was astronomical. Fortunately, there was the Camp Fire candy sale once a year. If the kids sold enough candy, they earned certain amounts that could be used to help cut the cost of camp. Also, a good portion of the proceeds from the candy sale came right back to the individual clubs. As a leader, if a child wanted to go to camp, I made those funds available to put on their camp bill. This meant that my own kids, as well as the kids in my club, sold HUGE amounts of candy. There were several years in a row that my family sold in excess of 1,000 units as a family. Each of my kids had a personal goal of selling at least 300 units each, and it often exceeded that.

Selling candy was a great experience in itself. My kids all learned to change a $20 bill in kindergarten. They learned how to speak to adults. They learned business skills. They learned how to do a business transaction with a blind person. (Blind people fold each denomination of money a different way so they can tell one from the other.) The kids learned to be aware of their surroundings. We sold a monumental amount of candy in front of Mervyns Department Store. The kids learned to tip off the security guards when they saw shoplifters. They learned to be polite and businesslike. I remember them making jokes during the 1987 floods about selling candy in the rain to get the "sympathy" sale. Many times people would ask the kids what kind of candy THEY liked, and then people would buy the candy and give it back to the kids to eat. We met so many wonderful people selling candy!

To this day, my kids can tell you which neighborhoods bought Camp Fire Mints, and which ones bought Almond Roca and Almond Caramel Clusters. On certain streets, they can point out houses that were a sure sale year after year. They reminisce about how I would wait until they got tired and then say, "One more house, I just know this one is going to be a sale." (Growing up in Reno, I knew that the law of averages dictated that if they hadn't sold any candy for 5 or 6 houses, I had a pretty good chance that the next house would be a sale. If it wasn't, I could usually stall the kids for 2 or 3 more houses before I had mutiny on my hands.)

I'm grateful for Camp Fire, a supportive community, and the Camp Fire law (which goes hand in hand with the LDS Articles of Faith, by the way).

Camp Fire Law

Worship God
Seek Beauty
Give Service
Pursue Knowledge
Be Trustworthy
Hold onto Health
Glorify Work
Be Happy


  1. I didn't know that you had some of those pictures, they are great! I still miss seeing Camp Fire kids sell candy, wish activity hadn't died out around here :(

  2. Camp Fire is a good program. Dad used to take me to the sororities and fraternities in Reno to sell candy. He'd take me in the evening because he said the kids were studying and would be hungry. I usually did very well there.

    Dad would also buy a box of candy, that I could use for "samples" to get people to buy. LOL!

  3. Dad was great with the candy sale. He used to take me to apartment complexes so that my short little legs didn't have to walk so far. He had a little sales pitch for me about "great after-dinner mints."