Aloha teen carries on family tradition with volunteer work through Camp Fire Columbia

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kyleigh Huckaby, her mother Carol and her grandmother Diane represent three generations of Camp Fire USA members.Kyleigh Huckaby is not the attention-seeking, socialite type.

She finds it easier to help others, however, and thrives in a supportive, familial environment. Volunteering through Camp Fire Columbia fits her personality and giving nature to a T.

“I like Camp Fire,” she says of the long-running public-service organization for girls and boys. “It’s one of those organizations that’s really close-knit. It’s like a family, but is really inclusive to new people. It isn’t clique-y, so I really like it.”

“Family” is clearly the operative word for the 16-year-old, who is a fourth-generation participant in the Camp Fire organization. Three of those generations are represented under one roof in Aloha, where Kyleigh’s mother, Carol, and grandmother, Diane — both Camp Fire alumna — reside. Kyleigh’s 14-year-old sister, Makayla, is also in Camp Fire.

“I did it for 12 years when I was a kid, and I’ve been a leader for 12 years,” Carol says of the family’s complex Camp Fire legacy. “My mom was my leader when I was a child, and my grandmother was my aunt’s leader. I’m now a leader for my daughter, and my mother is my co-leader.”

In other words, Camp Fire is in the Huckaby blood.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Kyleigh has racked up 250 hours of volunteer work through Camp Fire Columbia, qualifying her as a candidate for the Presidential Gold Volunteer Service Award for Young Adults. The president of the United States gives the award to recognize valuable contributions volunteers make in communities, and to encourage more people to TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Carol Huckaby goes through an album of photos showing her time with Camp Fire USA when she was a little girl.

Kyleigh, a junior at the Beaverton Health and Science School, has volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank, the American Red Cross and Camp Fire’s Camp Namanu, where she prepared and cooked food for other volunteers. Twice a week she volunteers in a kindergarten class at Elmonica Elementary School.

Encouraged by her mom’s and grandmother’s earlier involvement in Camp Fire, Kyleigh discovered her love of community service through the organization’s Classic Club Program. As a kindergartner, she recalls collecting and stringing soda pop tabs to create part of a massive visual display where each tab represented an American life lost in battle.

“I remember sitting in the living room stringing all these pop top tabs,” she says. “It took forever, but it was fun.”

Carol Huckaby, a longtime Aloha resident who works as a program and event manager at Intel, said Kyleigh’s involvement with Camp Fire was a natural outgrowth of her and her mother’s legacy in the organization. The enthusiasm and fond memories, it seems, were meant to be passed along.

“When I think back on what was so much fun as a kid, all the places I saw, the things I did, the things I learned, all that related to Camp Fire somehow,” Carol says. “What I was looking for with my kids, I wanted them to share in that experience. It was something special to me. It was something special to my mom. It’s a family tradition.”

Diane, 65, recalls making scrapbooks and seashell-adorned flower pots to share with hospital patients and people in need as an elementary schooler in the King County Camp Fire Council in Washington.

“I was a shy person. I would not talk,” says Diane, now retired after 13 years as administrative assistant at First Baptist Church in Beaverton. “Being in a group was good for me. It exposed me to things I’d never been exposed to. It was good for me to be able to connect with another adult. Those were my favorite times.”

Carol got involved as Diane, who moved to the Beaverton area with her husband in the late 1970s, volunteered as an adult for a Camp Fire Columbia summer camp.

“She went into that for the summer,” Diane says of young Carol. “I definitely knew from the time I had a daughter — and I better have a daughter — that they would be in Camp Fire.”

Kyleigh, who’s earned the WoHeLo Award, Camp Fire Columbia’s highest honor, is proud to carry on her family’s heritage.

“It reinforces that there are a lot of people in the world and not all of them have an easy time,” she says of Camp Fire. “You can do a little something, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it can help someone.”

For more information, visit TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Three generations of Huckaby women talk about their experiences with Camp Fire USA.

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