Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Alric Arnett of Camp Fire First Texas Is Helping To Change Our World
Follow your passion. Sometimes we run away from what we are good at because we don’t see immediate success. Whatever you do well with the least effort, enhance that ability daily. Work at it until you become the best at what you do. Your passion will find you because it’s in you!
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alric Arnett.
Alric Arnett joined Camp Fire First Texas in October 2022 as the Teens in Action Program Director. He graduated from West Virginia University, where he played football for the Mountaineers. Alric also played professional football for the Orlando Predators and the Calgary Stampeders; and in 2010, he played for the off-season and practice squad of the National Football League (NFL) Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. After retiring from football, he became a behavioral and academic coach for the Department of Safe Schools.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up in Belle Glade Florida, a small town, we were very underprivileged and without a lot of opportunities. There weren’t a lot of resources and tools to help us manifest our goals. We kind of just went with the flow. My brother worked with kids as a director of the Boys and Girls Club, and I saw the impact that he had on young people of all ages, including myself and my peers. His gift with kids has
always been touching. I also dreamed of playing NFL football, and I used to watch NFL football players from my hometown come back and give back to some degree. So, having this dream of making it to the NFL combined with my brother being my role model inspired me to find some way to give back in the best way I could.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Here at Camp Fire First Texas, one thing I love about my new position is that we have the opportunity to inspire kids toward college or career readiness, STEAM agriculture, and technology. These kids have different avenues than I did. Where I came from, the curriculum was standard. Now we’re more flexible and open to exposing our students to real-life careers. That can translate to after they graduate from high school, trade school, or even a four-year university. I would say my most inspiring moment has been the spring break tour, which we just wrapped up this week.
I love to see kids sparking other kids to find a passion, and then watch it manifest. As we visited colleges this week, I noticed a lot of kids started to ask questions, and that inspired me because I could tell that they were engaged. And they asked pretty good questions! I took it as a sign that the tour was an important milestone in developing a vision for their future.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In my first year at West Virginia University, I went home for spring break. It was my first year at a Division 1, so it was kind of tough and we worked harder than we did in high school. Once on spring break. I didn’t want to go back, even though I knew I needed to go back. So I just kept telling these stories to my brother and my grandmother that we have an extended spring break. And they kind of bought it until my coaches
called my high-school coach and said, “Hey, he needs to get back. He’s a week late.” And then my family found out that I was telling stories and being untruthful.
Going back to school was tough, but it showed me how much my coaches depended on me and wanted me there. When I got back to school, I had to run the stadium steps with one of our trainers on my back for a week! It was a lesson learned all the way around, but I will admit it was funny watching my grandmother and brother believe that spring break was two weeks long!
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We’re making a significant social impact because we deal with a wide range of students, schools, principals, and administrative staff in pursuit of making kids’ lives better. We’re eight schools right now and looking to expand, but we’re making an impact already in the sense that kids can meet and go on trips and share their thoughts and experiences with other kids that they may never have met. And they’re making these connections through Camp Fire First Texas because we serve schools throughout Fort Worth ISD.
Essentially, we’re closing that gap for relationship building and rapport, giving kids a chance to meet other kids who look like them and think like them, which feels like building a collaborative team. One thing I
always get excited about is when kids from different schools who may not have seen these kids in maybe two weeks, get to an event and say, “Hey, is Johnny coming today?” That lets me know that they’re excited to spend time with these new friends again.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Yes, it’s a young man in the 6th grade. I can tell that he’s inspired by my journey because he asks a lot of questions. When we did the scavenger hunt, even before they initiated the term teams, he said, “Hey, can you be on my team?” That shows me that he’s watching and has identified me as someone that he looks up to. I’ve always tried to set the standard every day to come to work with a good attitude, especially when he’s around me because I know that he’s watching. He’s always wanted to be in some type of partnership with me. Doing this job well is a duty, and I’m up to the challenge because I know it matters.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
It’s cool that you asked that question because we just got back from taking four students to Austin, Texas, to meet with state legislators about how they can improve their communities and their schools. Based on what the kids said, I can tell you they want to see improvements to the school grounds, such as keeping the grass cut. They also voiced a need for bigger issues, such as protecting their mental health and protecting them from gun violence. They generally expressed a need to feel safe. One of the students suggested having more community buildings, and nicer, safer recreation parks where kids can meet and have fun and share ideas and just be kids, and make it look presentable. And obviously, the roads and pavement free of potholes are also a strong desire for these kids.
We also just met with one of the state legislators who represents Tarrant county, and we had an hour-long conversation about how the students want to improve their community and their schools. The kids asked great questions, and he asked good questions of them as well. Again, they expressed a need to feel safe from gun violence. The kids shared that they know of some who have access to guns, and this makes them feel unsafe. Teaching kids to advocate for themselves in this way feels like a very important and needed contribution.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I think sometimes people give a false example of leadership by trying to lead a group of kids or a team to be them. I think my job as a leader is to help every individual that I come in contact with identify their leadership qualities and lead from their perspective. Because the world won’t get any better if I just try to make everyone try to be like me. So it’s my job to help them identify their skill set and to implement those leadership qualities that they possess. My job is to tap into that hidden potential — that’s what leaders do.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I’ll start with some advice for those who are trying to influence others, and then share some wisdom I’ve accumulated for life in general. Patience and listening are key. Have an open ear. I try to listen first before I speak, even if I think what someone is saying is nonsense and not a big deal. Listen, and let the kids express themselves at all times, no matter what the situation may be.
As for life lessons, here are five big ones:
1. Buy experiences, not things. Experiences can last a lifetime and take you places beyond your imagination, potentially opening doors to many perspectives in life.
2. Establish what you want to do in life. Knowing what you want makes the road to success a little shorter. I’m not saying it will be easy because it won’t, but it keeps you motivated through tough times.
3. Be a “Lifetime Learner.” Be willing to gain knowledge from any opportunity that is given. Be prepared and attentive. Do a job with the outlook of what knowledge you can gain, not the benefit of being paid.
4. Follow your passion. Sometimes we run away from what we are good at because we don’t see immediate success. Whatever you do well with the least effort, enhance that ability daily. Work at it until you become the best at what you do. Your passion will find you because it’s in you!
5. Become friends with others who are ambitious. When you are around someone or a group of people, ideas and hard work rub off without creating an unstable environment. Iron sharpens Iron.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think my idea would be togetherness. I will always promote togetherness because I feel as a unit, we can move mountains, whereas by ourselves, we can only do so much. Coming from a football background, I think football is the most team-oriented sport. It’s the hardest sport to win because you’re dependent on so many people to do their jobs. But why do you think athletes cry after winning a championship? It’s because they’re emotional about all the steps and obstacles they faced to get to that moment, which is reminiscent of all the disagreements, arguments, debates, long nights, and early mornings it took to win. That’s why they cry. So I would say togetherness — uniting around one common solution to solve a common problem or achieve a common goal — that’s the win.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have many quotes, I’m a quote guy. But one of my favorites is, “It’s necessary that change is required.” I always say that the best apology is changed behavior, especially when dealing with kids. A lot of kids say, “Hey, I’m sorry.” I reply, “It’s okay to be sorry, but if you want to show me that you’re sorry, change your behavior. That’ll show me that you have listened and that you have taken it to heart.” I think change the best apology. It’s even necessary that we change as adults. We can’t just stay the same because if we don’t change, we’re not growing.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Who would I want to meet? Man, I’m a big stock guy. I got into stocks over the pandemic. I would love to sit down with Warren Buffett. I would ask too many questions, honestly, so I probably would just have him start telling his story from scratch. I read stories about how his dad had him work in a grocery store and use a certain percentage of his earnings and put it into the stock market, even at a young age. I would ask him questions like what is the best route for a guy my age as far as investing in the stock market, real estate, or whatever it may be. I would love to hear his story and how he got to where he is now.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can contact Camp Fire First Texas and ask for me, or search for me on LinkedIn!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Alric Arnett of Camp Fire First Texas Is Helping To Change Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.