Growing up is hard. That’s why Camp Fire connects young people to the outdoors, to others, and to themselves.
Founded in 1910, Camp Fire is a national inclusive youth development organization.
All young people find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are. See our research-based program framework that we call “The Camp Fire Journey”, founded on the pillars of Social Emotional Learning (SEL).
All young people find, build, and contribute to their community; they develop meaningful relationships with supportive adults and peers; they feel seen, heard, accepted, supported, and affirmed for who they are today, and who they will be in the future.
All young people experience the power and awe of the outdoors; they learn to respect, love, and care for our world.
Camp Fire Heart of Iowa aspires to provide welcoming, inclusive spaces where all people can connect with themselves, their community, and nature. We cannot truly live our mission without acknowledging the painful history that has brought us to reside on stolen land.
We acknowledge that we operate on the traditional and ancestral lands of the Báxoje Máya, or Ioway Nation, the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and, more recently, the Meskwaki, Sauk/Sac, and Fox Nations who are the original and rightful stewards of these grounds. The United States obtained the land from the Meskwaki and Sauk nations in the Treaty of 1842 following a series of violent encounters, the forced cession of land in eastern Iowa, and the involuntary relocation of Indigenous people further west.
We recognize that our presence on these lands today is a part of this history and that the 17,000 Indigenous people who live in Iowa today have demonstrated incredible resilience despite that history, the ongoing silencing and exclusion of their people, and the appropriation and erasure of their culture.
We also acknowledge the use of the Indigenous language chosen as the namesake for our programs in Boone and Ames. Hantesa (ȟaŋtéša) is a Lakota word meaning “red cedar” chosen for the needles of the cedar tree which always point upwards, symbolizing our commitment as the “Camp of High Ideals.” Canwita (čhaŋwíta) is also a Lakota word meaning “grove of trees” chosen as both a literal descriptor of the property and in recognition of the family (the Groves) that donated the land to Camp Fire.
Camp Fire Heart of Iowa is committed to education and justice via our youth programs, including the removal of appropriative practices and recognition of what it means to occupy space and teach youth on Indigenous land. We stand in solidarity with these tribes and call on our peers in the summer camp and youth development industries to join us in acknowledging the Indigenous inhabitants of the land we are on and removing appropriative activities, iconography, and rituals from their programs so all people can feel welcome and respected in these spaces.