Empowering the Next Generation: The Joys of Volunteering with Camp Fire First Texas, a Camp Fire First Texas blog by Jacob Wright
April 21 to April 27 is recognized as National Volunteer Week. At Camp Fire First Texas, we’re beyond thankful for our incredible volunteers who selflessly give their time and energy to help make a difference in our organization. Without them, our mission wouldn’t shine as brightly! Today, we spotlight these dedicated individuals and give them much-deserved recognition for their invaluable contributions!

Michelle Bush

Michelle Bush, Camp Fire First Texas Volunteer

How did you get involved with Camp Fire?
Starting in the mid 1960’s through 2004 I have been; a Camp Fire group member, a Camp El Tesoro camper and staff member, district volunteer in Wise County, a club leader for thirteen years, and on Camp Fire staff eight years. More recently, I was asked by my friend Elise to be on the El Tesoro 90th Anniversary Celebration committee and got involved with the planning of that event.

What inspires you to volunteer?
I have always enjoyed helping people. If I see a way I can help others accomplish a goal or if someone asks me to get involved in a project (and I think I have a skill or an insight that might be of use) I like to help in whatever way I am able.

What has been your favorite volunteer opportunity?
There were many from the past but the most recent one was helping the Camp Fire Staff by sorting through and organizing items from Camp Fire’s past. For the staff it helped with a task that needed to be done but time would not allow. For me, I was interested in preserving Camp Fire memories.

What do you want other people to know about Camp Fire?
“Camp Fire has always been an organization committed to helping children and teens learn new things, develop life skills and try to help them reach their full potential.” – Michelle Bush

Jason McMillan

Jason McMillan, Camp Fire First Texas Volunteer

How did you get involved with Camp Fire?
I was introduced to Camp Fire through a former colleague after discussing my desire to give back and help the young people in our community.

What inspires you to volunteer?
I firmly believe that it truly takes a village to raise a child, and as someone who benefited from others in my ‘village’ growing up, I know how important it is for me to do that for the children in our community as well!

What has been your favorite volunteer opportunity?
Serving on the Board of Directors has given me the opportunity to get to know all parts of Camp Fire, but my favorite thing I have done to-date is leading a college tour for the Teens in Action Program at TCU!

What do you want other people to know about Camp Fire?
“Most people think about Camp El Tesoro when they think of Camp Fire, but I would love for everyone to recognize how much support and programming we provide locally and in our schools as well! Camp Fire has something for everyone, everywhere!” – Jason McMillan

Teens in Action

Teens in Action, Camp Fire First Texas Youth Program

Teens in Action is a Camp Fire youth program that combines small group meetings, college and career site visits, field trips, community volunteering and mentoring to promote commitment and follow through and inspire a vision for the future. The program boosts confidence, builds self-esteem and develops leadership skills. Our Teens in Action program director, Alric Arnett, answered some questions about the impact volunteering has on this program.

What is your goal for volunteering?
The goal is to allow students to connect within the communities they live in and school they attend and make it safer and better environment. Students will become more socially aware of the core values that help obtain realistic objectives and indicators to better serve their community. Be the change you would want to see!

Have you seen a difference between students who have volunteered and those who have not?
Yes! The difference is that those who have volunteered display leadership qualities that have led them to build relationships with others in the program. Critical thinking skills are being utilized and self-confidence is noticeable between those who volunteer and those who have not.

What has been your favorite volunteer opportunity?
We have volunteered numerous times at the Community Enrichment Center. That’s been my favorite opportunity because not only are the students there to serve a group purpose, but they learn the daily operations of the center. Examples as to where the product is being delivered and why, reasons to check dates on canned goods, how dietary products are sorted, and more.

Why is volunteering important for Teens in Action? Why is it important for others?
“Teens in Action’s purpose is to bond within their communities by being the leaders for the next generation and inspire others to become a TIA member and continue our journey as a Community Organization. When one or more students come together it tends to inspire those who may not have the confidence or thought to take a leap to see a difference around them. Volunteering is instrumental to a successful development. It creates a passion that continues to fuel goals that you may feel are achievable with new skills that are developed along the way.” – Alric Arnett

Tori Mudge

Tori Mudge, Camp Fire First Texas Volunteer

How did you get involved with Camp Fire?
I attended Camp El Tesoro as a camper, went through the Counselor in Training Program, and worked on summer staff for many years as a counselor, lifeguard, CIT Coordinator, and eventually Assistant Camp Director. In 2012 I started volunteering at Camp El Tesoro de la Vida in the summers after resident camp and have prioritized it every year since!

What inspires you to volunteer?
My love for Camp El Tesoro was the catalyst for becoming a volunteer, it is a great way to stay involved in Camp Fire programming well beyond your years as a summer camper. I knew I always want to be what I needed when I was younger, for me that means providing a safe and fun environment to be yourself. I had a lot of amazing counselors and young adults in my life as a camper that impacted the person I am now.

What has been your favorite volunteer opportunity?
Camp El Tesoro de la Vida is my favorite volunteer opportunity, the environment that’s cultivated to give our campers the opportunity to process their experiences, coupled with being at summer camp is not something easily recreated.

What do you want other people to know about Camp Fire?
“There is a space at Camp Fire for everyone to learn, and grow, and give back. I truly believe every volunteer opportunity is a chance to make a positive impact on other people’s lives.” – Tori Mudge

Sally & Steve Snow

Sally & Steve Snow, Camp Fire First Texas Volunteers

How did you get involved with Camp Fire?
Sally Snow: I was the director of the Emergency Department at Cook Children’s and I got a voice mail message from my colleague and peer, Barbara Greer, the NICU Director at Cook. She said, she “had an offer for me I couldn’t refuse.” I called her back, and she told me this little grief camp associated with the Warm Place (Barbara was on the Warm Place Board) needed a camp nurse. She said they told her she could bring a friend. She decided, as a neonatal nurse, she might need an ED nurse for a buddy. We both said yes, and that was the beginning of a 26-year partnership as “the nurses” at camp El Tesoro de la Vida. We helped Ann Sheets design the new health house.

Steve Snow: I joined after watching Sally create wonderful memories for over 10 years and our son Matt getting involved too. They introduced me to a great group of friends, now family. I created lifelong memories and friendships.

What inspires you to volunteer?
Sally Snow: The joy of seeing children who have suffered an incredible loss in their lives, get to be kids for a week and have fun while sharing that week with other kids who have the loss of a loved one in common, is the most incredible experience in the world. The truth is, grief work in that setting happens everywhere, on the road walking back from the pool, in the dining hall when something they see, hear or smell reminds them of their loved one, in group where more than one other little boy or girl has lost their mom, dad or sibling. It’s the one thing they all have in common and for the first time since their loss, it’s not a taboo subject. Everyone understands that feeling and it’s safe to talk about it.

Steve Snow: I like to share with others.

What has been your favorite volunteer opportunity?
Sally Snow: Now that I am no longer able to be at camp for the whole week, my two favorite things are being able to help fundraise. (this is about my 20th year on the fundraiser planning committee (all of them) and the second and most favorite. is being able to carry on the wonderful tradition that Mary Cranford (Denis’ mom) started over 30 years ago. On Wednesday of camp, Mary, and her wonderful husband Jerry (Denis’s dad) would come to camp with dozens of cookies, brownies, peanut brittle etc. just for the staff. When Mary died in 2020, Steve, Denis and Barbara Greer and I decided to carry on Mary’s legacy and bring goodies to camp for the staff. They are so appreciative, and it gives us a chance to still be part of camp even it’s only for a day.

Steve Snow: Nothing will ever compare to the 10 summers I spent with the boys in upper camp as a Mustang. The upper camp staff have become like my own children and lifelong friends. Favorite? There are way too many list, but the when my two passions for cooking and being outdoors came together, I was elated. Getting to be Santa at camp this year was the BEST! Being able to carry on Mary Cranford’s tradition has been wonderful.

What do you want other people to know about Camp Fire?
“Camp Fire, provides kids a place to be a kid at Camp El Tesoro and at de la Vida, a safe haven to grieve the loss of a loved one with people who understand how they feel and support them with tools to cope with their grief.”- Sally Snow

“The Camp Fire family is full of caring progressive, creative professionals that love what they do. Helping kids and teaching them coping skills is a huge part of what Camp Fire does.” – Steve Snow

If you are interested in volunteering with Camp Fire contact us at 817.831.1111, ext. 160
or complete the form here.