After two years without a Spokane-area recipient, two area teens joined the ranks of an elite few who earn the Camp Fire USA’s highest honor.
Mead High senior Megan Bunker, 17, and Shadle Park senior Sondra Willmann, 18, accepted the Wohelo Medallion Award at a special May 18 ceremony at First Assembly of God Church, 828 W. Indiana Ave.
“Wohelo recipients are among those dedicated and hardest working of the Camp Fire USA membership,” Wohelo committee member Mary Griffith said at the ceremony. “They are the epitome of Camp Fire’s best.”
The ceremony featured Spokane native Christy deViveiros, awarded the nation’s first Wohelo in 1965, leading a group of Wohelo recipients singing the Camp Fire Law.
Wohelo is earned in part by advocating for three chosen issues in which members demonstrate their ability to lead, teach, serve and speak out. Additionally, candidates complete four specified long-term projects, called reflections. These projects focus on self, choices and decisions, future goals and planning. The Wohelo recipient is also required to read the history of Camp Fire.
According to the National Camp Fire USA Web site, there are about 200 Wohelo recipients each year.
Bunker, for one of her three issues, traveled to the inner city of Los Angeles and served the homeless during a church mission trip in July.
“It changed my perspective on life,” Bunker said. “I have a more open view on people, more accepting.”
Another way she fulfilled the requirements was volunteering Wednesday nights as a youth leader for Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church Kids Club. She spent this time ministering to young children. She also served three summers as a leader for the church’s Vacation Bible School.
Willmann estimates she spent between 500 and 700 hours over four years working to fulfill the awardrequirements.
She organized activities for RiteCare, including Spokane’s annual children’s Christmas party the past four years. RiteCare is a nonprofit organization helping children with communication delays. Willmann knows firsthand the value of the program: She participated in the program as a preschooler.
In 2007, Willmann received the RiteCare Spokane’s Volunteer of the Year award.
Willmann’s service also included volunteering as a Youth Board member on the Camp Fire USA Inland Northwest Council Board.
Both Bunker’s and Willmann’s 12-year Camp Fire careers began in first grade, though in separate groups.
Bunker joined Willmann’s group as a high school freshman, after everyone in her other group left Camp Fire. By their junior year, only Bunker and Willmann remained in the group.
After graduation, Bunker plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College to pursue a degree in nursing. Willmann plans to attend Whitworth University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in elementary education and theology.
“Camp Fire USA’s mission is to build caring, confident youth and future leaders,”said Colene Rubertt, executive director of Camp Fire USA Inland Northwest Council, “Megan and Sondra epitomize our mission and prove that today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders.”