Continuing in the adventures of Camp Fire youth connecting with community partners in our three-part series on service-learning. Check out parts one and two if you’ve missed them.

Peninsula students volunteering with the custodians at their school.

At Camp Fire, we’re fortunate to have so many dedicated youth leaders who are passionate about giving back! We are also proud to partner in this work with many incredible organizations, such as the Oregon Food Bank and the Community Cycling Center, just to name a few. Through these efforts, youth are able to see their actions come full circle and how they can make a difference. Students often discover ways that they can further engage as volunteers, following service projects.

At the end of service projects students reflect in written journals, or develop art displays to showcase their work. Post-event celebrations provide youth with an opportunity to cheer each other on, and allows them to share their awareness of the issues they worked on together as a group.

According to the National Youth Leadership Council, some of the effects of service-learning include expanded youth connection to community and a higher likelihood for youth to graduate high school. Student have also shown increases of test scores in social studies, English, and writing. Overall, service-learning projects provide youth with opportunities to further their leadership and 21st century skills by putting them into action with deeper engagement at school.

Giving Back & Deeper Community Engagement

Camp Fire kids at Peninsula Elementary learned how to give back by volunteering to help some of the hardest workers at their school –the custodial staff.

Each day, different groups of students learned how the custodians help the school and what they could do to assist them. The Camp Fire kids dusted, helped wipe tables, and emptied the trash from classrooms. After each service learning session, students wrote thank you notes and cards for the custodians.

George Camp Fire students show off their bandanas for the animal shelter.

6th grade Camp Fire students at George Middle School made “adopt me” bandanas to donate to an animal shelter. The kids took great pride in each of their bandanas. “I feel responsible for making sure my dog gets adopted!” said one Camp Fire youth.

Camp Fire youth at Fir Ridge High School wanted the opportunity to give back to youth for the holidays, so they partnered with and Portland State University Students for Children, and Youth Volunteer Corps for a toy drive at Portland State.

Camp Fire students were able to work with and visit PSU, several of them had never been to the campus before. They received more than 100 donated toys from Hasboro through a Generationon.org Joy Maker grant. The Fir Ridge teens hosted the event at PSU, which included making snowflake decorations for the space beforehand, and handing out toys during the toy drive. They also helped attendees at the event to make placemats to be donated to the Oregon Food Bank. Cookies and cocoa were also available for families to enjoy, as well as food from the PSU food drive.

PSU parent at the YVC Toy Drive event.

PSU parents who participated in the event said that they were most excited about the opportunity to teach their children how to give.

One of the PSU moms attending the event not only brought her baby with her to the toy drive, she also donated the first art project made by her baby to the program! The event was a huge success with providing community and support to 44 adults and 72 children!

Camp Fire YVC Coordinator, Jessica Price, collaborated with Pamela Bock, who works for Services for Students with Children at PSU to make the event happen. Pamela was pleased with how well everything turned out and said that, “The parents attending shared with me that they appreciated the toys, and were extremely impressed with the students and their volunteer and leadership skills!

Each time, students are given the chance to learn about issues they can have a lasting impact on in their communities, and in the process, they learn about themselves, too.Thank you to all of the community partners, families, and youth for helping us to make a difference together!

Want to connect your company or group with us as a potential community partner for upcoming service-learning projects? We are always looking for organizations that could benefit from our students’ efforts in community service with periodic projects and clubs throughout the school year. Contact Development@campfirecolumbia.org for more information.