Behind the Scenes

SOME BEHIND-THE-SCENES INFO FROM CAMPFIRE CURRICULUMS
(~3 min read)

We’ll start with the basics of what we do… then we’ll share our heart and some behind-the-scenes about it….

  1. Any individual can create a unit study (although, the quality and complexity varies).
  2. Some teachers are capable of great teaching—even addressing multiple ages at once, holding the attention and comprehension of most or all students.
  3. Few talented authors are able to creatively write a living book or story for a read aloud (usually age- or group-specific).

However, these unique skills are usually independent and do not frequently overlap. A great creative writer is not often the organized one who is inclined to teach lessons; a great teacher is not necessarily going to be a talented author; neither may be equipped to focus on such a wide age span (pre-k to adult)…

So what do we do at Campfire Curriculums?  We combine ALL of these qualities and create one open-and-go unit study, multiple times per year (often every single month).  We utilize living book or living story for our units to captivate your family and help encourage a love of learning.  It’s like writing and publishing a small book each and every month.  No stress, right?  🙂 Then, we are also teaching difficult concepts and lessons to multiple ages at once (from pre-k to adult).  We are also teaching careers, life skills that can be used (not easy), life lessons from important people or pieces in history, AND multiple school subjects [language arts, history, science, Bible, ethics, etc] at once…. while strategically incorporating Charlotte Mason inspired handicrafts and experiential lessons (for all learning types)…

WHEW…

Don’t forget the job shadowing…

While we’re at it, did we mention we also spend a week or two job shadowing the professionals/experts for certain units, to pick their brains and get deeper insight and direction than Google can offer?  Then, we develop the units with new inspiration and even more ideas which we have to weed down into only 12 lessons (when we want 200!).  And, of course, we do this while making sure everything is properly fact-checked with other primary sources.

It’s not easy—we promise!  Sometimes in the draft versions, I feel like I absolutely perfect the teaching or lesson, and hubs comes along behind and says, “The teaching is good, but this storyline needs help!  HAHA! 

He’s actually incredibly supportive and loving, but also really funny, too.   Truth be told, he’s an AMAZING writer himself and authors many of the lessons you see in Campfire.  But, every once in a while, I get to say the same thing back to him haha! 

Other times, we feel like we get the creative storyline down for all ages to enjoy (no easy feat) but have to ask ourselves, “Wait… did we TEACH enough of the lesson with that? No? Let’s start over….”

Toss it in the trash… start again.

We balance character development for the story, AND the quality/level of educational teaching—all at once.  It’s not “just” a new living book every month.  It’s not “just” a unit study each month.  It’s not “just” job shadowing for students at home.  It’s not “just” a new life skill to teach.  It’s not “just” teaching to multiple ages all at the same time, in a way that’s enjoyable and understandable for all (and also covers core school subjects for those who want it).  It’s ALL of it… combined.

Then, even if we feel like we get those parts down, we have to ask, “Will a 1st grader be able to understand this?” And, at the same time, “Will a high school student or adult roll their eyes at this or love this?”  So, we test it out on our own family (and some others, including teachers, professors, and fathers, along with children).  Then we pass those milestones (or fail and start over), but the professional or expert gives us an idea that sends us down an entirely different path.

Toss. Start over.

It can’t be too long, or we’ll lose our goal with the purpose of these units.  BUT it also must include significant teaching (as high school students use it for high school credits) so it can’t be too short, either. Too much? Too little?

Toss, and start again….

Did we forget the visual learners? The tactile learners?

Go back, re-do it….

FINALLY, we ask the golden question: Would dads enjoy it? Will they be able to use it with their children (if desired) as an easy way to jump into family homeschooling? This has always been the passion behind our business. If the answer is no?

Toss, and start again….

The mental exhaustion and balancing act that each unit brings is intense!  Each time–in the midst of sleep-deprived tears–when my husband and I look at each other in the eyes and ask, “Is this really worth it?”…

Each time—in the midst of sleep-deprived tears—when my husband and I look each other in the eyes and ask, “Is this really worth it?”

…our answer is always the same: “It is SO worth it!”

Side note for a true story… last year, I went through a drive through, and the guy asked a question at the window.  As an answer to his question, I burst into tears.  Yep… sobbing tears.  Like, the ugly cry kind of tears.  It was one of those times I’d been up all night long for days in a row working on the upcoming releases, and I think the stress and the exhaustion just hit me at once.  Of course, if I recall correctly, I was pregnant at the time with a high-risk pregnancy, as well… which probably compounded things haha.  It’s funny now, but a little [*ahem* LOT] embarrassing at the time.  You have to understand, I’m not the crying type lol.  The man at the drive through window had no idea what to do.  Neither did I.  And so, after driving off to avoid the complete humiliation, I just let God hold me as I continued to cry at some unusually run-down gas station parking lot.  And still, when my husband pulled me into a hug and held me, and he asked me if this curriculum was worth it (and I asked him the same)… we both agreed.

See, we wanted to create something that was completely missing in the homeschool community.  We wanted something that could allow dads to join in, if desired.  Imagine that possibility!  We wanted something that focused on God and incorporated job shadowing or apprenticeship and skills growth, too (experiential learning!)…along with everything else listed above. There is so much we believe in!  We believe so many other families out there were longing for this once-in-a-lifetime combination, as well.  We truly believe this with all of our being. We have believed it since the day my husband felt like God placed it on his heart (I’d love to share how God worked on my heart another day!).  So regardless of how difficult it may be, it is worth it!  Even in the hard times, we see value in the journey.  And, we will never stop striving to do better than the month before, for all of our families who use this (ourselves included!).

Here’s to a little behind-the-scenes that also helps to answer the question: What is Campfire Curriculums [from our perspective]?

You guys are all a huge blessing to us, and we pray we are at least a small blessing to you and your families, as well. 🙂

-Jennifer

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