Namanu TrainingEach year our school year teams at Camp Fire participate in a series of staff trainings as part of their on-boarding. These often involve skills specific to the levels of youth development necessary for their programs. To kick-off the 2016-17 school year, some of these sessions for our Middle and High School staff were provided by community partner organizations, as well as our own program directors to better support Camp Fire teens. These included:

  1. Best Practices in mentoring relationships with Sarah Tollefson from the Institute for Youth Success. Middle School staff learned the key components of successful mentoring relationships, important strategies for connecting with youth, and maintaining healthy boundaries in mentoring relationships.
  2. Restorative Justice Practices and Disproportionate Discipline with Robert Blake at Resolutions Northwest. Camp Fire has a yearly partnership where staff members receive training to develop the tools and skills to facilitate monthly community circles with youth. In response to patterns of disproportionate discipline, staff learn how to support students with advocacy, conflict mediation, and one-on-one mentoring with a restorative justice lens.
  3. Growth Mindset training to help staff understand how to provide authentic feedback to youth in program, create a program environment that encourages learning from mistakes, and how to face challenges with resilience and persistence.
  4. Interrupting Oppression with Dara Snyder from YWCA. Our Middle and High School teams learned about Oregon’s history of racism and oppression. Staff also developed shared language around how to have conversations about race and practiced interrupting oppression and facilitating conversations with youth about those comments or issues.

Emily Sterling, Camp Fire Middle School Program Director, shared, “Our community partnerships for staff professional development are an integral way that we ensure our staff are well trained, culturally responsive, and connected to the dynamic work being done in the Portland youth development community. We are proud to collaborate with all of these incredible organizations to strengthen the quality of our programming in the schools.”

The programs are supported by both new and returning staff this year. This is the fourth year at Camp Fire for High School Program Director, Patrice Kuykendall. She shared that it was exciting to bring new members of her growing team into the training and work more closely with the Middle School team to create a continuous teen experience at Camp Fire. “It was very exciting to have the opportunity for the High School team and Middle School team to collaborate during staff training,” she said. “I believe it was a great way to build a sense of team and community and provide a fun environment for all staff who will be working with teens within the Camp Fire Community to be able to get to know each other and share ideas. I look forward to continuing this tradition in the future.”

Low Ropes Challenge CourseAnother part of trust and team building for the two teams included a day out at Camp Namanu on the challenge course. The teams started with low ropes, which for some was initially thought to be not as exciting, but with the experience they gained a different perspective. More photos of their team building day at Camp Namanu.

Our Middle School staff also shared that they loved being out in nature connecting as a team, especially on the high ropes challenge course. “I really enjoyed bonding with the Middle and High School teams out at Camp Namanu. The experience gave us a chance to show off our strengths and creativity and be goofy together,” said Kate Westfall, 8th Grade Site Supervisor at Lane Middle School. “The vulnerability of flying out of a tree in a giant swing was a great way to feel connected to the Camp Fire team. I left feeling reminded that I am a part of something bigger than my individual school site.”


High Ropes Challenge Course

This year our High School staff is fortunate to have two Bachelor’s of Social Work interns from Portland State University added to the program. Taryn Plank is assisting at our program at Fir Ridge High School. As a new team member at Camp Fire, she was inspired by the activities and came away with a  better understanding of our programs. “I found the training at Camp Namanu to be eye-opening, fun, and absolutely necessary! It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday grind that I had forgotten the impact of being in a positive and encouraging struggle, surrounded by like-minded people,” she said. “There is power in spending a day among nature, disconnected from technology, and playing games that seemed simple and somewhat childish. Yet these games reminded me that sometimes-difficult discussions and situations can be understood and explained in simple ways. Life shouldn’t be taken so serious all the time, no one should go it alone, and help can be found if only we would ask.”

We are excited to see all of the adventures ahead for Camp Fire staff and the youth they serve.

Interested in more details on renting Camp Namanu for your organization or group retreats and events? Check out the Camp Namanu website for more information.