Campfire Notes

Filling Buckets: Our 2019 Theme

Filling Buckets: Our 2019 Theme

This year’s summer theme, chosen to help guide campers to be the best versions of themselves, is “Filling Buckets.”

Our first summer theme was in 2012 when we chose the theme of gratitude. We followed that theme with kindness (Cool 2B Kind), relationship building (Creating Connections), helpfulness (Give a Hand), grit (Growing Grit), positivity (The Energy Bus), and 2018’s focus on friendship (Find-a-Friend).

One thing that makes life at camp special is that we live in a community where our shared experience is full of face-to-face, positive interactions with each other.  At camp, we are shielded from input and news from life outside of GAC and we take a break from the pressures of social media. This unique setting provides us the privilege and responsibility of maintaining our own positive and encouraging atmosphere.

Writing encouraging notes, or “WOWs” to each other is one of our “bucket filling” GAC traditions.

Every interaction we have with another person is an opportunity to have a positive, negative, or neutral impact. It is easy to be too self-focused and worry about our own agenda and needs. Encouraging others and actively seeking opportunities to have a positive impact are noble challenges we are excited to embrace in our community.

Tom Rath and Donald Clifton of Gallup Strengthsfinders introduced “The Theory of the Bucket and the Dipper” in their bestselling 2004 book, How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life.

From How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

Carol McCloud’s 2015 children’s book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? presents Rath and Clifton’s concept in a simplified version and is our inspiration for this year’s theme.

Here are some of the 2019 GAC staff reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today?:

We’re thrilled to make our GAC community stronger by helping campers understand that encouragement makes others feel valued. Together, we will experience the joy that comes from making others our focus.There are many opportunities at camp to fill other people’s buckets through kindness and encouragement. Filling Buckets means using our words and actions to show how much we care:

  • Sharing a heartfelt smile
  • Greeting each other by name
  • Helping others without being asked
  • Giving sincere compliments
  • Recognizing others for bravery and achievements
  • Encouraging others when they succeed and also when they’re struggling
  • Elevating the needs of others above our own
  • Seeking opportunities to have a positive impact on others

Filling Buckets builds on the work we’ve done in the areas of positivity, friendship, and kindness. The friendships we forge at camp are special for many reasons, and we know that keeping the focus on lifting each other up will add depth and richness to our connections. It is our sincere hope that 2019’s GAC campers will take this theme home and continue to make positive changes in their communities by being kind and encouraging with everyone they encounter. Everyone deserves a full bucket!


2019 Theme: Filling Buckets

How Full is Your Bucket, Tom Rath & Donald Clifton

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? Carol McCloud

The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket


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Remembering Hope “Fiji” Mirano

Remembering Hope “Fiji” Mirano

Hope “Fiji” Mirano Chen

We are so sad to let our GAC family know that our longtime, beloved staff member (2000-2008), Hope “Fiji” Mirano Chen, lost her 3 1/2 year battle with cancer earlier this week. She leaves behind her husband Mike, her daughter Olivia, and a large a loving extended family – including many current and former GAC staff members.

The Chen Family

Hope’s sister, Anna Mirano Macalino writes:

On Wednesday May 1, 2019, my sister and best friend, Hope Mirano Chen, died after a courageous and inspiring 3.5 year battle with a very aggressive form of AML due to complications resulting from her most recent treatment. On her last days, she was surrounded by her loved ones and is finally resting in peace and no longer in pain. The Mirano and Chen families would like to thank everyone for all of the love and support throughout this journey. The outpouring of support and prayers, blood and platelet donations, gifts for and time with Olivia, traveling across the globe to visit, weekly visits, slumber parties, texts, facetime, calls…the list is endless. We could never list all of you, but please know that we are eternally grateful to each and every one of you. Hope and our families didn’t have just a village, we truly had the world helping us fight…friends, family and the kindness of many many strangers. Hope left us knowing she was truly loved. We would especially like to thank Dr Stein and the City of Hope for their care and becoming part of our family throughout this process. Gary Ragat your donation gave Hope hope twice, it meant so much to her. And to Cheryl Oliver-Cervantes for never leaving our side and helping us navigate through every single emotional and administrative step of Hope’s last days. We would like to compile stories of your memories of Hope for her daughter, Olivia. Through all of you we will keep Hope’s memory alive in Olivia. Please post on Hope’s timeline any thoughts and we will ensure that your messages are passed along to Olivia and the family. Thank you all again for being with us on this journey.

We have received so much love and an outpouring of people that want to help. Your kindness at this time is genuinely appreciated. For those asking about donations, Hope wanted to help find a cure for blood cancer. Donations can be made in Hope’s name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In order to send a tribute gift, please donate directly at As you personalize your gift, please put Hope Mirano Chen under the Personalize Your Donation section and Mike and the family will be notified of your generosity.

A few of the words shared about “Fiji” from GAC staff include:

“Heaven gained an angel far too soon. Hope, I will forever cherish our memories on and off the mountain from our GAC years. Thank you for being you and such an inspiration to many. Mike, Olivia, family and all who are walking with heavy hearts today. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.”
-Abbey “Wild Violet” Butcher

“My beautiful friend! I cannot put into words all the memories we have shared over the past 16 years! From camp sleepovers in “The Hilton” to dressing up in the most ridiculous costumes for GAC dances to weddings to welcoming our children together! I have so many cherished memories to hang on to! Your legacy lives on in your beautiful O! To Mike and Anna and all your family and friends who are feeling this pain, we love you and miss you everyday! I pray that your family finds peace during this hard time. Until we meet again and run a LOT of “errands” together we LOVE YOU Fiji Feeeeej!
-Renee “Zippy” Say

Hope, This breaks my heart. I love you sweet lady.
-Aaron “Elf” Kessler

We love you, Fiji, and will always cherish memories of your cheerful spirit, your warmth, and your love for others. You will be missed dearly.


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