Young voices ring in group's 100th

Camp Fire USA is in its centennial and local campers took a trip through the musical eras to celebrate Tuesday.

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CampFire USA singer Zachary Moore, 8, (center) sings and dances to the Macarena with a large group of summer campers on stage during a songs of the decade performance for the 3rd annual CampFire USA summer luncheon and centennial celebration at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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A broadening smile on her face, Emma Plunz, 6, sings with a group of fellow CampFire USA campers for guests at the third annual CampFire Summer Luncheon and centennial celebration at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WALLA WALLA -- Forty-three young voices sang songs from each era of the past century Tuesday in celebration of Camp Fire USA's centennial.

The kids, donning red Camp Fire USA T-shirts, accompanied the group's summer luncheon with their voices as they sang songs from each era of the past century. Titles such as "If You're Happy and You Know It," "My Girl" and "Don't Worry, Be Happy" were sung with hand motions matching many of the lyrics.

Keynote speaker Stefanie Crumpacker-Flerchinger, the program's musical director, has worked with the kids all summer in preparation for the performance.

She told the audience of 300 that Camp Fire has changed her life: She now hopes to become a music teacher. To her, the secret of Camp Fire's success is that it gives children what they need in a unique learning environment.

"This is what I never knew I always wanted," she said. "You are changing the lives of countless children, ensuring their needs are met."

Karen Wolf, the executive director in Walla Walla said, "We're trying to help (kids) be successful."

Program fees cover 50 percent of the Camp Fire budget and the rest is raised through community generosity.

"Our small community is known for its giving nature," Wolf said.

Camp Fire has a 10-week summer program and an after-school program that provides a safe learning environment for kids. By participating in the programs, children learn basic social skills, create friendships and are have a place to do projects with an emphasis on leadership.

With each week of the program a new theme is introduced, such as "science week" and "around the world." Activities include presentations from people who have first-hand experiences with these topics to work with the kids. Also a part of the summer program is a kid favorite: swimming. By partnering with Whitman College, Camp Fire has been able to take the kids swimming twice each week.

Camp Fire is proud to offer scholarships to help families send their kids to the program.

"We're fully committed to children in every income level," Wolf said. Many funds donated to the program go to create these scholarships.

For more information about Camp Fire USA in Walla Walla visit www.wwcampfire.org.

Jennifer Jorgenson can be reached at jenniferjorgenson@wwub.com.

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