Guest Blogger Martha Randall (FM ’08) Reflects on Camp Fire USA

I loved being a stay-at-home mom, but it was my dream to go to college. So when my only child, Matilda, entered kindergarten, I entered college through the Free Minds Project. Twice a week I went to class and my little Matilda joined the Camp Fire USA group in the room next door. For two semesters, while I was entrenched in Plato, Sylvia Plath, and Frederick Douglass, my daughter was learning more than I could have imagined.

Initially, I thought that the Camp Fire USA program would consist of just basic childcare. But as the year progressed I noticed that as I grew intellectually, so did my daughter. At each meeting the kids in the Camp Fire group were encouraged to read with each other. By the end of the first semester Matilda was beginning to read! And while the Free Minds students learned to find meaning behind poetry, the kids created poetry of their own. I nearly cried when I read the haiku that Matilda wrote for me during one of the Camp Fire meetings:

My Mommy loves me
Even when I am not kind
She gives me good hugs

I was amazed at the wide variety of topics the Camp Fire teachers covered, from how to make smart choices at mealtime to how to set up a pole tent. The Camp Fire group was made up of kids from kindergarten to high school, so for the first time in her life Matilda had a chance to interact with older kids and she loved it.

I believe the most important thing to come from Matilda’s time in the Camp Fire program was the opportunity for her to see what I was doing in college. Because she was right next door, she had a chance to see my classroom, meet my classmates and professors, and hear some of our discussions. In the end, the Camp Fire USA program helped ease the transition from stay-at-home mom to college student not just for me, but for Matilda as well.

Martha Randall (Free Minds ’08) will be entering her fifth semester at St. Edward’s University in the fall to continue working toward her degree in Organizational Communications and Small Business Management. Matilda just finished the second grade.

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