Camp Fire USA

I have recently begun working with the Patuxent Area Council of Camp Fire USA  in Greenbelt. Camp Fire is a century-old organization which runs after school programs, summer day camps and fun outings and events while supporting its neighborhoods and providing service learning opportunities to local teens. I have found it to be an amazing example of a holistic community-based organization and the staff and volunteers at Camp Fire really take care of their member families in every way possible, whether it be providing transportation to kids or sending a bit of food home after meetings.

As a VISTA Leader working with Volunteer Maryland, I have the opportunity to work out of- and devote some of my time to- a host site. At Camp Fire I will be helping to run a weekly middle school club as well as work on plans and funding for summer activities and help out with programs for a nearby homeless shelter. While I love the scope of Volunteer Maryland and feel that a state-wide organization is extremely powerful, I am really enjoying the contrast of also being involved with a group which focuses on a smaller community. It’s astounding to see the difference that a few people can make in a neighborhood.

Yesterday, we were the free produce pick-up site for 150 families, because the elementary school which is the usual location is closed for spring break. Knowing that there would be such a large number of people at our community center that day and having a vast array of community connections, my executive director began making some calls to see what we could pull together. Long story short, with only a couple of days and a few phone calls we had representatives from the Capital Area Food Bank, Census 2010, WIC, Washington Adventist Hospital and the Greenbelt Community Foundation. Many of the Camp Fire USA Teens in Action youth also came out to volunteer. All in all, beyond distributing literally pallets of food we were able to register a few people to vote, help over 30 people fill out census forms, provide a free blood pressure screening to a hundred adults and sign up 6 families for WIC benefits.

Without funding or any formal planning, everyone involved was able to “get things done”, and astounding event came out of it. I am truly honored to be around such incredibly devoted and resourceful do-gooders and hope that I am doing my part to contribute.

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