An Evening with Camp Fire Kids

Adaptation was the topic of conversation at a recent session of Camp Fire USA. With their parents and grandparents in class down the hall, Camp Fire kids marveled at colorful pictures of birds, guessing what kind of food each one could eat according to their beaks. The picture of a woodpecker sparked animated discussion. As the activity worksheet explained, a woodpecker’s bill is called a chisel and is used for boring into wood to eat insects. Aidyn, age 11, pointed out, “It sounds like someone knocking on a door!”

Participants in this year’s Free Minds Camp Fire group are as young as four and as old as 16. While this range presents some challenges for leader RJ DeLeon, it has its benefits as well. When four year old Alexah struggled to decipher the words on the page, Aidyn stepped in to help, sounding out each word for Alexah to repeat. This dynamic, in which the older kids help the youngsters, is not by accident, but by design. As RJ put it, “Our mission is to create future leaders. Asking the older kids to care for the younger ones helps students take on responsibility for others and for the group.”

The Camp Fire curriculum includes nature lessons, team-building activities, and humanities topics that mirror the Free Minds syllabus. And though this evening’s topic, adaptation, can be confusing in the abstract, it became clearer to the kids when transformed into a game. Children selected their own “beaks,” represented by everyday objects like tongs and clothespins, from a plastic bin and then tried to grab as much “food” from the ground as possible. Just like the adults a few rooms away, Camp Fire kids understand that the best kind of learning is active.

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