An Open Letter to America’s Youth from Camp Fire

08/14/2017 02:19 pm ET
At Camp Fire, all are welcome. These are some of our inspiring youth from around the country.
At Camp Fire, all are welcome. These are some of our inspiring youth from around the country.

I am writing you today because we desperately need your help. Adults need you to step up and be our role models. We need you to show the country how to treat people with kindness and respect.

Too many adults—including adults in important positions—are using social media and their conversations at home, at work, and in their communities to speak badly about people they don’t like or agree with. We often see it on TV, too.

When that happens, you are robbed of the kind of environment you need to thrive—an environment where you feel safe, supported, and encouraged by the adults around you.

Maybe adults have forgotten what it feels like to be bullied or made fun of. But I bet you haven’t—you see it every day. You have seen how much it hurts people’s feelings. Think about a time when you were the last one chosen for a team at school. Or the time someone made fun of the way you were dressed. Or when someone posted something bad about you or one of your friends online that wasn’t true. Remember how awful it felt? How embarrassed you were? Now imagine if someone in an important position made fun of you in a speech to thousands of people that was shown on TV. And then all those people started laughing and making fun of you too, even though they’d never met you.

That’s exactly what’s happening these days and we know it’s not the way things should be.

So, what can you do about the disrespectful things you hear adults say? Whether they say them in your presence, you read it online, or you hear it said on TV?

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m just a kid. What can I do? Adults won’t listen to me.”

You are a role model.

That’s why Camp Fire is reaching out to you. You ARE a role model, and this is where it matters. I’m here to tell you that you make a big difference just by how you choose to treat people every day. By choosing to always be kind and considerate in your words and actions, you have a big impact on the people around you. They will always remember how you treated them. And maybe they will want to treat others the same way!

I’m here to tell you that you make a big difference just by how you choose to treat people every day.

Camp Fire works with young people in small towns and big cities across the country. Kids as young as five-years-old all the way up through high school. When we work with you we see amazing things happen! We admire how you respect the right of other people to be different from you, how you welcome them. You “get it”, meaning you know you don’t yell at people or make them feel stupid just because they don’t agree with you. You show compassion for others.

We admire how you respect the right of other people to be different from you, how you welcome them.

We watch as you try to be a good friend to those who need your friendship. You want to make things better—you know you can shape the world around you with the help of your families, teachers, and the other caring adults in your lives. You know who the bullies are and how bad they make people feel, how unfair their actions are. The only question is what kind of support you need to stand up to them, to stand up for yourself, and for those around you.

As disrespectful and unkind as some adults seem to be these days, I bet you know so many more who do their best to lead good lives, to show care and concern for others, and to speak to each other and to you with respect.

Think about it. Who are the adults who encourage your ideas? Who encourage different points of view? Who are the adults who serve as your role models? Who are the adults who set a good example for other adults? And who are the adults who want to learn things from you?

Every March, Camp Fire celebrates Absolutely Incredible Kid Day. It’s a day set aside to recognize the amazing kids in our lives and tell them just that. Kids who try to do the right thing, who look for ways to help others, who know they are special and unique.

Maybe we need an Absolutely Incredible Adult Day so you can recognize the awesome adults in your lives who are your role models? They’re the opposite of what you’re seeing on TV and reading about on social media. After all, the only way to silence a bully is for the positive voices to be stronger; for good deeds to outweigh bad ones.

So please—take a few minutes and say THANK YOU to the good and incredible adults in your lives. Send them a text, a tweet, an email, a handwritten letter. Call them on the phone or tell them to their faces. Let the adults in your lives know you’re watching them and that through their actions, you’re forming opinions about what’s fair and unfair; what’s right and wrong. Remind them of how their words and actions influence your choices, and how you appreciate the positive example they’re setting for you!

And then, continue to be the role models we all need.

You are the adults of tomorrow—powerful and emboldened to set the tone of the future and to define our world the way you want it to be. If you do, you can create a better place starting right now.

Sincerely,

Camp Fire

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