Employee impact: Camp Fire developed my leadership skills

By Regence
February 01, 2018

This post is the first part of a series that highlights Regence’s unique Executive Board Placement program that works to match company employees with nonprofit organizations looking to grow their board of directors. Run through the Corporate Social Responsibility department, the board placement program has become one of the most impactful ways Regence strengthens local communities and supports employees in their own volunteerism. Through the board placement program, and the corresponding funding that compliments an employees’ board service, Regence strives to remove obstacles that can keep people from serving the greater good. 

Camp Fire has a clear mission – “We inspire and enable youth of all backgrounds and abilities to discover their spark, value the natural world, and become tomorrow’s leaders, today.” The organization was once known as Camp Fire Girls of America, but in 1975 the organization opened its doors to boys who now represent 46% of the members.

For Kathy Jones, director of employer implementation at Regence BlueShield, Camp Fire helped develop her leadership skills. We talked with Kathy to learn more about Camp Fire, why she serves on the board of directors of the Central Puget Sound Council, and the impact the organization has on her and the local community.

What is Camp Fire?

Kathy Jones (KJ): The organization was founded in 1910, and in 1911 clubs were opened in Federal Way and Kirkland, Washington. It serves over 6,000 children and teens by providing fun and educational experiences through small group programs, community partnerships, and camps.

What makes Camp Fire special to you?

KJ: Camp Fire believes that every child should have the opportunity to participate, and it is this inclusive spirit that sets Camp Fire apart. Their programs include children with special needs such as medical or other disabilities and it is also very inclusive without regard to gender, sexual, or cultural biases. We want every child to feel welcome regardless of their personal situation. The staff is trained to accommodate the needs of all children.

How did you benefit from being involved in Camp Fire?

KJ: I feel like Camp Fire shaped who I am today and helped build my leadership skills. The girls I met in the program are still some of my best friends.

What do you do as a board member?

KJ: Each month the board meets to review the status of each program, review the budget and provide strategic direction about future activities.  I also attend many events and assist with fundraising.

Do you see the impact that Camp Fire is having locally?

KJ: Oh yes. We implemented a program in south King County called Little Stars, which is designed for children who are 4-5 years old and their families who are primarily Spanish-speaking. The goal is to tackle education at an early age and give families a community that can help support them. The staff members lead activities that expose them to educational opportunities that they might not usually receive. While the program starts in pre-school, there are opportunities for youth all the way through high school.

What part of Camp Fire are you most passionate about?

KJ: When I was a child, each summer I attended Camp Sealth on Vashon Island. I am the oldest of four children and going to camp gave me an opportunity to take a break from my everyday life, develop my own interests and develop my leadership skills. As an adult, I went back to Camp Sealth and, 20 years later, it was exactly the same as I had remembered it! Now my son goes to the same camp, which is really special to me.

What is your view of the board placement program and Regence’s support of your time with Camp Fire?

KJ: My view of the board placement program is very positive. It allows leaders to choose an organization that is meaningful to them. The support that we provide as board members, both financially and personally, reflects well on Regence in the community. The financial support that Regence provides via the program is impactful to the organizations that we support.

For more information about the Executive Board Placement program, please contact Alison Arella at (503) 414-7849 or via email at alison.arella@cambiahealth.com.