Florence Adams remembers when the Compton Camp Fire Council used to serve more than 2,700 children a year with a budget of $89,000. Today, the only minority owned and operated council in Southern California is struggling to stay alive and only has the resources to serve about 300 youngsters annually.
Adams, who has been affiliated with the council since 1984 when her son was a member, and currently serves as the executive director, is trying to revive the 62-year-old council.
“We’re facing a crisis because of the funding. Our funding base has been withdrawn,” explained Adams, who added that quite typically when a council is in the situation that Compton faces, the Camp Fire USA closes them down.
Among the major funds that have been lost are a county grant and assistance from the United Way.
But Adams is calling on a variety of community and political resources to try and turn the situation around. In addition to seeking help from Compton Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux and receiving donations from community businessmen like Alvin Lovett, the council executive director has scheduled a charity golf event in August; and has submitted a proposal to Charles Drew Head Start to interest them in purchasing the council’s Stranger Dancer program for their 21 child care centers.
She is also looking to interest school districts in the various programs the council offers such as Peer Proof, which helps fifth and six graders learn how to deal with negative peer pressure and teaches conflict resolution.
Adams is also seeking to let business owners and the community know about the 2 1/2-acre self contained camp site.
“People can use the grounds and lodge hall for weddings, family reunions and other events,” explained Adams adding that there is more the community can do.
“We’re going to send out letters to businesses and to new businesses coming into the city to ask them to make a donations which will send children to camp and help support our council financially,” added Adams.
Additional resources would allow her to re-start on a modest scale, the camp program that is the heart of most camp fire councils. The club program is a troop program for children in kindergarten to 12th grades and it is co-ed, Adams explained.
“They earn emblems and incentives. They wear uniforms and grow from one level to the other,” Adams said.
There is also a junior camp counselor where teens learn the basics, and this knowledge could possibly lead to employment from either the Compton Council or some of the other local campfires.
Adams believes the Compton Camp Fire Council is a vital community resource that is a beautiful nature oasis surrounded by the urban reality, and it is a place “where a kid can still be a kid.”
To help the non-profit council, send donations to Compton Camp Fir Council, 450 W. Raymond St., Compton, CA 90220 or call (310) 604-1104.