A new generaton of leaders is on their way. And they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty for the greater good. This group is ready to shape their world and spark inspiration in both young and old. Camp Fire Columbia is an organization that is helping future leaders gain the skills they need to help build a bright future.

Camp Fire Columbia has historically been synonymous with outdoor learning and providing opportunities for all kids through a diverse array of programs. Through these programs, students from elementary school to high school are encouraged to find their spark. Camp Fire kids learn how to connect their passions to their futures and set goals and gain the confidence to succeed at what drives them.

Camp Fire Columbia works with schools and families to strengthen student achievement and extend learning while helping youth of all ages achieve their goals throughout the school year and summer months. During the school year, they keep over 1,400 students learning in a safe, challenging environment in before-school, after-school, and in-school programs at local schools. Camp Fire partners with other 20 schools, many of which are under-resourced. Students of all grades are provided with: academic support, enrichment, mentoring, leadership opportunities, experiential learning and community engagement.

These programs aim to increase student success and develop essential assets like confidence, motivation, and connection to peers, school, and community.

CFC offers a before and after school program that provides licensed childcare 5 days a week at select schools in Portland and West Linn. This program strives to offer youth a sense of belonging in a safe, engaging, and educational environment. Camp Fire instructors at each school create intentional and outcomes-based curriculum.

CFC’s middle school program prepares more than 350 youth annually to achieve success in high school and beyond. Students are provided with academic support and encouraged to find their “sparks,” or passions, that will guide their growth. Students are given skills to set personal and academic goals for their future. The growth mindset curriculum encourages students to try new things and remain resilient in the face of obstacles. Some of the activities included are: in-class support, monthly field trips to local businesses and colleges, and regular service-learning projects.

CFC’s high school program serves 120 youth each year at David Douglas High School and its alternative campus Fir Ridge. Students who participate in this program are supported to graduate on time and get prepared for future education and career options. Activities provided include a class during the day, monthly field trips to local businesses and colleges, regular service-learning projects, and mentoring sessions with experienced youth development professionals.

CFC also provides summer programs that keep kids exploring and learning during the out-of-school months. The units in each area of their summer programs are organized by the grade each camper will be going into in the upcoming school year. CFC offers overnight summer camp sessions at Camp Namanu with their Resident Camp and Namanu Ranch in Sandy, Oregon. Day Camp programming is offered in Downtown Portland, Southeast Portland, Nadaka Nature Park, Sandy, and West Linn. Registration is open now for summer 2017.

You can see CFC kids in action at their biggest event of the year, Spark: Gathering Around Camp Fire. Join them on Friday, April 14th at The Sentinel Hotel where youth will show off their sparks as storytellers, artists, and more! Find out more here.

If you’d like to volunteer or learn more about Camp Fire Columbia contact them here.

This week at Portland Radio Project we featured the Camp Fire Columbia as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. You can listen below to interviews with key members of the organization:

Peyton Guenther, Youth Advisory Committee Member

Barbara Kutasz, Teacher and Board Member,

Emanuel Manzo, Youth Advisory Committee Member
Patrice Kuykendall, High School Program Director

Andy Lindberg, Director of Programs & Facilities at Camp Namanu