Give a Spark

Every October, each Alaskan—big and small—receives a PFD (if they qualify and have completed their applications by the March deadline, that is). Not only is this an exciting time, the PFD is something we all hold close to our hearts.

Since 2008, Pick.Click.Give. (PCG) has made it possible to pay it forward to nonprofit organizations across the state that enrich the lives of ALL Alaskans. From preserving indigenous culture to providing educational opportunities, from rescuing animals to providing shelter for those in need, from leading public safety initiatives to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, and the list goes on—there is at least one mission we care about and identify with.

Did you know there are over 600 organizations to choose from when designating your charity on your PFD application? It’s amazing to think about the passion behind the meaningful work being done each day to brighten and strengthen the communities throughout our state. Your donation, big or small, means so much to the progress of that work. PCG is an opportunity to engage in philanthropy and support a cause you love. Not only can you give to a cause that is meaningful to you, your children can as well.

One of our Camp Fire Kids has been giving to Camp Fire Alaska through PCG for the past couple of years. We are amazed at his kindness and compassion. He always sends a card at the end of the year, stating what he would like the money to be put towards; this year it is scholarships so that other kids may have a chance to attend camp.

That is exactly what PCG means for Camp Fire Alaska: that more families will be able to afford to send their kids to camp. It means kids will have a place to go while their parents are at work. It means that kids will have FUN in a SAFE and ENGAGING environment where they build HEALTHY relationships with other youth and staff, all while discovering their spark.

January Camp Fire Reminders:

January 1st Camp Fire Offices are closed for New Year’s Day. PFD application window opens.

January 20th Schools, programs, and Camp Fire offices are closed for MLK Day.

January 25th Best of Alaska Showcase at the Dena’ina center. Come visit our booth for fun kids’ activities and giveaways!!

Register now for Winter Break Camp!

This year’s themes include comic con (all things comics), hot mess express (science experiments!), and shelter building. We hope to see you there!

We still have a few spaces left–while you’re at it, register for February Days and Spring Break Camp now to get the Early Bird Discount. Prices go up January 1. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

Rice Krispie Sculpture Contest

Camp Fire is holding our first ever sculpture contest! As the proud creators of Rice Krispie Treats (aka the molding clay of amateur baking shows) it seems only fitting that we celebrate our heritage the way we know best: with FUN!

School sites will be able to brainstorm, sculpt, and submit their tasty sculptures for a celebrity judge’s consideration. Our contest closes in early October, and the top three scorers will be eligible to win three fabulous prizes!

Stay tuned for sticky fingers, smiling faces, and some wowza-moments!

Rice Krispie Treats. Buttery, gooey, and delightfully crispy, these well-known desserts are beloved for their simplicity and versatility—may we recommend a salted dark chocolate dip? Back in the 1930s, Mildred Day invented this treat on behalf of Camp Fire Girls through the Kellogg Company’s Home Economics Department. 

At the time of invention, Camp Fire Girls needed a product easy enough for beginning bakers to quickly master. As America trudged through the Great Depression and the average pantry’s supply closet dwindled, recipes designed around low production costs and high caloric yield rocketed in popularity. This was around the time Kraft’s Mac and Cheese hit the shelves.

Fortunately for Camp Fire Girls, Mildred Day wasn’t about to cut flour with sawdust. She was inventive (and tasteful!) enough to keep everyone happy.

The original 1932 recipe is included on the side of Rice Krispie boxes to this day. Over time, molasses and corn syrup have been swapped for microwavable marshmallows—but that sweet, warm taste remains a childhood staple across the flux of generations.

Join Camp Fire’s Before & After School Program

ASchool’s in! And so are we. Our Before and After School Program launched yesterday despite pesky smoke interference, and we couldn’t be more pleased to greet faces familiar and new!

  • If you’re new to our School Age program, read up on all the fun details here.
  • If you’re curious about that special magic factor that sets Camp Fire programs apart from the rest, check out our interview with recent Government Hill Site Director Hannah, who speaks beautifully about the power of respect and accountability’s place in youth development.
  • Current parents can download our new and improved 2019-2020 Parent Handbook for contact info, current procedures, and this year’s schedule.
  • Our 2019-2020 schedule is here (and within the parent handbook). Sites for both Full Day Programs and Unscheduled Closure days are outlined. Sites for Full Day programs are subject to change depending on school district availability. Any changes to site location will be promptly communicated to all registered parents via email and social media.

If you haven’t yet registered for our programs, we strongly encourage families to get their foot in the door now. Many sites are at full capacity, but we have rolling waitlists that we are now constantly pulling from. Don’t delay, register now!

It Begins with Respect

Government Hill, Before and After School 2018-2019 Program

Last spring, Camp Fire’s Site Director for Government Hill left the state to pursue her dream to dance professionally in New York City. It was hard to say goodbye. Over her multi-year tenure as a Site Director, Hannah shaped Government Hill’s program into something special. Parents and visitors often marveled at the calm, organized efficiency of site operations, as well as the organic role-modeling and leadership older kids were modeling for their younger friends. Walking into the Government Hill site was like stepping into a greenhouse—one where each plant has been thoughtfully positioned to support another. So what was that extra sprinkle of magic? How could one adult not only tame a pack of 40 children, but also teach them to monitor themselves?

“Respect.” says Hannah.“Teaching and reinforcing good manners was a huge thing for me. We based a lot of things on teaching manners and respect, but once that was established, things started getting a lot cooler. We had bigger parties, better toys, more interesting activities. Once the foundation was in place, our program became something really special.”

Hannah went on to add that the structure she instituted at her site became a tool for establishing trust and community. Older kids were often trusted with access and leadership responsibilities, which would have otherwise been impossible. During weekly Pancake Fridays, for example, older children would be the ones teaching younger kids how to make pancakes—rather than a Camp Fire staff member.

There’s a difference between childcare and youth development. At Camp Fire, we recognize the responsibility that comes with spending an extended period of time with a child. Our organization is constantly developing and practicing new curriculums designed to help youth grow as individuals and as community members. 

Respect goes both ways. As Hannah explained, You have to hold children responsible, but you also have to hold yourself accountable. There were times when my personal life left me tired, and it showed. I didn’t excuse myself from explaining. I would apologize to my kids during Circle Time. I would explain that I was tired and trying to not be grumpy. I respected the kids, and so they respected me. I created an environment where my staff, my kids, and I all felt equally supported. It was a philosophy based on respect.”

The job of Site Director, Hannah explains, isn’t just about hanging out with kids and making sure they have fun. Being a Site Director at Camp Fire means supporting children whose families are going through divorce, hunger, homelessness, loss of work, and so many other circumstances. Sometimes kids have complicated, adult emotions that they’re still learning how to recognize and regulate. Camp Fire programs respect children, and respect what they’re going through while also teaching them important life skills.

While Hannah departed Camp Fire to take her turn on stage (good luck Hannah!!), the lessons and impact she shared with her site are unforgettable. Addressing her farewell, Hannah shared, It was very firmly decided that I would need to call them once a week during Circle Time, so that the kids and I can update each other on our news. A few of my fifth graders are about to become sixth graders, and it’s vital that I return for the elementary school graduation.

For my going away present, I made them a yearbook. We all signed it and wrote little notes to each other. I’ve had two portraits painted of me as well as been given personal notes and gift cards—they’ve done a lot to make me feel loved. And you know, I loved working at Camp Fire, too. There were so many times when I’d been at dance practice all night, and I’d wake up exhausted, dragging myself into morning program. But the kids were always so excited to see me. Some of them had been waiting all night to tell me what was happening in their lives. They were counting on me to be there for them. It taught me a lot about accountability and showing up for people who need you.”

We couldn’t be more proud of Hannah—both for the time she spent with us at Camp Fire, and for her journeys ahead. At Camp Fire, we like to say that we’re in when school’s out. Thanks to the dedicated work of many talented people, we’re proud to announce the opening of our 2019-2020 Before and After School programs.

Best of Alaska

The public’s review has launched! Nominate your favorite Alaska businesses (and peruse your neighbor’s recommendations) through the ADN’s Best of Alaska Showcase. 

Business categories range from dining to entertainment to childcare providers (it’s us!!). Shout outs to “Camp Fire Alaska” as Best Summer Camp or Best Daycare are greatly appreciated.

Happy voting!

Update – Camp Fire Alaska’s Outdoor Programs and the Swan Lake Fire

July 11, 2019: Map provided by the Incident Information System.

The Swan Lake Fire continues to burn and officials report that it will burn all summer. The smoke produced by the fire has led to air quality advisories and increased monitoring of health and safety. 

Air quality in both Anchorage and Cooper Landing is subject to change based upon the fire’s progress and a variety of other weather factors. In Anchorage, campers enrolled in Camp Si-La-Meo and Summer Adventure Programs will continue to enjoy outdoor fieldtrips and activities as conditions allow. Degraded air quality warnings will result in reduced physical activity, reduced exposure to outdoor air, and moving activities indoors. If air quality reaches Unhealthy status, early program closure may result.

Camp K on Kenai Lakeis located in Cooper Landing, and has both greater proximity to the Swan Lake Fire, as well as greater chance of exposure to smoky air. Camp Fire will be intensely monitoring air-quality updates, weather predictions, and health advisories when determining whether to host camp sessions. Again, reduced air quality could result in less time outdoors, less physical activity, and potentially shorter camp sessions.

We have no reason to believe that Camp K is at risk of fire exposure. Anycompromise of environmental safety would lead to the immediate evacuation of camp.

Updates for upcoming Camp K sessions will be communicated to families 2 days prior to their session start. In the event of camp closure, Camp Fire will explore rescheduling camp, relocating our facilities, and other possibilities.

Smoke effects everyone differently, sometimes in unexpected ways. The safety and health of allour campers will alwaysbe our top priority. Minimizing exposure to smoky air while encouraging healthy outdoor play forces all of us to walk a fine line. Our efforts to achieve balance can result in sudden changes of plan. 

Our decision whether to hold camp is directly impacted by the government’s incident reportsofficial air quality reports, contact with health professionals, and weather reports.

Thank youto Camp Fire families who have shown such flexibility and understanding while we navigate these unusual circumstances. We wish you and your families nothing but safety and good health for the duration of this summer—they’re the cornerstones of having fun. As always, please reach out to discuss your family’s needs. We want to provide the best experience possible. Give us a call at (907) 279-3551, our offices are open Monday through Friday, 8AM – 5PM. 

6th Annual Wild Women of Wohelo Retreat

Camp isn’t just for kids anymore! Ladies, join us August 3-4 for two days at beautiful Camp K on Kenai Lake.  This weekend combines the splendor of nature with all the fun of summer camp for grown-ups. Explore the shores along the lake, the surrounding trails, and participate in traditional camp activities such as arts & crafts, kayaking and archery alongside  the company of a great community of women.  All funds raised support Camp K’s Maintenance Fund.

For more information or to register, click here.

Camp Si-La-Meo 2019 Special Offers

Camp Si-La-Meo’s field trip schedule is done! Campers age 9-13 are invited to take advantage of this year’s huge catalogue of field trip add-ons. Download the field trip schedule here.

We would also like to highlight Camp Si-La-Meo’s new Family Camp. Running July 1-3, Family Camp is a special opportunity for parents and siblings to take part in camp fun. Download Family Camp schedule here.

For questions, check out the Si-La-Meo FAQ, or give us a call at (907) 279-3551.

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