Camp Fire Heart of Iowa Impact Story

Camp Canwita

“Familiar, Comfortable, Welcoming, and Fun”


These are the words that Bailey used to describe how she feels when she attends summer camp at Camp Canwita in Ames - run by Camp Fire Heart of Iowa. The Summer of 2023 wrapped up Bailey’s last summer attending Canwita. Bailey started attending summer camp as a school-aged youth and has come back every summer for the past seven years. Bailey is now 13 years old and attends the Canwita Middle School program. 

Camp Fire – Camp Canwita, which is funded in part with United Way of Story County ASSET funding, provides youth like Bailey safe, quality, and consistent childcare that caregivers can rely on year after year. For over 100 years, Camp Fire has had the unique ability to offer stable, outdoor-oriented, enrichment-filled, quality childcare for the Ames area and surrounding community. 

Reflecting on her time as a Canwita camper, Bailey shared that she values independence and the ability to make decisions for herself. A core value of Camp Fire is providing young people with the opportunity to discover who they are in a safe and affirming environment. Bailey communicated feeling a sense of freedom and choice. Bailey has benefitted from multiple opportunities over the years to discover who she is while growing and thriving in Camp Fire programs (which included finding her love for Gaga Ball, her favorite camp activity!). Bailey even hopes to move into a teen leadership role at Camp Canwita! 

With the incredible support of partners such as the United Way of Story County, Camp Fire will continue to provide the type of programming that champions youth like Bailey to become the people they are meant to be. 


Bailey was 1 of 326 children in Story County who participated in summer enrichment programs at Camp Fire last year. 92.3% of those youth reported feeling a sense of belonging. 85.9% reported improved or maintained positive relationship skills. 97.5% reported learning a new skill.

Historically, United Way of Story County has intentionally supported summer enrichment programs, such as Camp Fire's Camp Canwita, because they foster learning for children during the summer months. They also provide caregivers with necessary summer supervision and peer engagement. In a recent caregiver survey, 87% of caregivers reported an improved quality of life due to childcare services, as well as being able to remain in school or at their jobs due to camp/childcare supports.

*Data from FY22-23