||This article may contain wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (April 2012)|
|Headquarters||Kansas City, Missouri|
|Founded||informally 1910; formally March 17, 1912|
|Founders||Luther Gulick, M.D.
|Nation Board Chair||Gwen Whitson|
|Nation Board Vice Chair||Glenn Cravez|
- For the rock band, see Campfire Girls (band).
Camp Fire, formerly Camp Fire USA, originally Camp Fire Girls of America, is a nationwide American youth organization that began in 1910. The organization has been co-ed since 1975 and welcomes youth from pre-kindergarten through age 21. Camp Fire was the first nonsectarian, multicultural organization for girls in America. Its programs emphasize camping and other outdoor activities for youth.
Its informal roots extend back to 1910, with efforts by Mrs. Charles Farnsworth in Thetford, Vermont and Luther Gulick M.D. and his wife Charlotte Vedder Gulick on Sebago Lake, near South Casco, Maine. Camp Fire Girls, as it was known at the time, was created as the sister organization to the Boy Scouts of America. The organization changed its name in 1975 to Camp Fire Boys and Girls when membership eligibility was expanded to include boys. In 2001, the name Camp Fire USA was adopted, and in 2012 it became Camp Fire.
Camp Fire's programs, including small group experiences, after-school programs, camping and environmental education, child care and service learning, build confidence in younger children and provide hands-on, youth driven leadership experiences for older youth.
In 1910, young girls in Thetford, Vermont, watched their brothers, friends, and schoolmates – all Boy Scouts – practice their parts in the community's 150th anniversary, which would be celebrated the following summer. The pageant's organizer, William Chauncey Langdon, promised the girls that they, too, would have an organized role in the pageant, although no organization such as Boy Scouts existed then for girls. Langdon consulted with Mrs. Charles Farnsworth, preceptress of Horace Mann School near Thetford, Vermont. Both approached Luther Halsey Gulick M.D. about creating a national organization for girls. Gulick introduced the idea to friends, among them G. Stanley Hall, Ernest Thompson Seton, and James West, executive secretary of the Boy Scouts. After many discussions and help from Gulick and his wife Charlotte, Langdon named the group of Thetford girls the Camp Fire Girls.
In 1907, the Gulicks had established Camp WoHeLo, a camp for girls, on Lake Sebago, near South Casco, Maine. There were seventeen WoHeLo maidens at the camp in the summer of 1910. Both the Vermont group and the Maine group would lead to the creation of the organization formally organized as Camp Fire Girls in 1912.
On March 22, 1911 Dr. Gulick organized a meeting "To consider ways and means of doing for the girls what the Boy Scout movement is designed to do for the boys". On April 10, 1911 James E. West issued a press release from Boy Scouts of America headquarters announcing that with the success of the Boy Scout movement a group of preeminent New York men and women were organizing a group to provide outdoor acitivites for girls, similar to those in the Boy Scout movement.
Camp Fire Girls of America was incorporated in Washington, D.C, as a national agency on March 17, 1912.
By December 1913, Camp Fire Girls' membership was an estimated 60,000, many of whom began attending affiliated summer camps. The Bluebird program was introduced that year for younger girls, offering exploration of ideas and creative play built around family and community. In 1989 the Bluebirds became Starflight.
The first official Camp Fire handbook was published in 1914. During World War I Camp Fire Girls helped to sell over one million dollars in Liberty Bonds and over $900,000 in Thrift Stamps; 55,000 girls helped to support French and Belgian orphans, and an estimated 68,000 girls earned honors by conservation of food.
The first local Camp Fire council was formed in 1918 in Kansas City, Mo. Later in 1977 Kansas City would become the national headquarters for Camp Fire.
Camp Fire celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1960 with the "She Cares ... Do You?" program. During the project, Camp Fire planted more than two million trees, built 13,000 bird houses, and completed several other conservation-oriented tasks. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Camp Fire Girls, in connection with their Golden Jubilee Convention celebration, a stamp designed by H. Edward Oliver was issued featuring the Camp Fire Girls insignia. A new program, Junior Hi, wherein twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls explore new interests as a group and as individuals was created in 1962. This program name changed later to Discovery. That same year, the WoHeLo medallion became Camp Fire's highest achievement and honor.
In 1969, Camp Fire Girls were allowed to be "Participants" in BSA's Explorer Posts (for boys 14 and older). This arrangement ended in 1971, when the BSA made Explorers a co-ed program. Membership was at 274,000 by 1974 in 1,300 communities of the United States. Camp Fire expanded its horizons in 1975, welcoming boys to participate in all Camp Fire activities. While boys were invited to Camp Fire Girls Horizon Conferences in the late 1960s and early 1970s, official membership was not offered them until 1975, when the organization became coeducational. Camp Fire decided boys and girls should be together in one organization, so they learn to play and work alongside each other and appreciate their similarities and differences in positive ways. Thus they understand that people from either gender can be their teachers, coworkers, supervisors, confidantes, coaches, and friends.
In 1977, Camp Fire's head office moved to Kansas City from New York, where it is still located today. Teens in Action was introduced in 1988 as a one-time social issue campaign to energize the older teen program. Today Teens in Action, Camp Fire's service–learning program for teens, serves over 60,000 teens.
The first Absolutely Incredible Kid Day, a call to action for all adults to communicate through letters their love and commitment to children, took place in 1997. In 2003 to further its commitment and inclusiveness, Camp Fire USA began translating its curricula to Spanish. As a way to excite and educate children in Pre-K, the Little Stars program, first developed by Camp Fire Green Country, was introduced nationally in 2005. Designated for ages 3–5 Little Stars builds confidence and a sense of belonging in children.
In 2012, Camp Fire underwent a re-branding changing their name officially to Camp Fire. The traditional flame logo changed to a more contemporary "Spark Mark."
Gamma Phi Beta Sorority partners with Campfire to build resiliency in girls by volunteering at and fundraising for Camp Fire camps and programs. In 2012, Gamma Phi Beta became the official sponsor of Camp Fire's self-reliance curriculum "I'm Peer Proof".
Camp Fire has nationally developed youth development programs that are delivered through local and statewide councils and community partners across the nation. Programs are specific to community need and some may not be available in all communities. The five outcome based program areas include: Small-Group Clubs and Mentoring Opportunities; Leadership Development; Camping and Environmental Education; Child Care; and Self- Reliance and Service–Learning Classes.
Small-group clubs 
With Small-Group Clubs and Mentoring Opportunities, Boys and girls usually meet once a week for an hour, learning to work and play together through service projects. Camp Fire has numerous youth-development programs that are delivered through local and statewide councils and community partners.
The program levels are:
- Little Stars is for children ages three through five and provides parents and preschool youth with a quality, program-driven playgroup that gives them the opportunity to learn, grow and play.
- Starflight program is for boys and girls in kindergarten through second grade. The children meet regularly in adult supervised clubs. Meeting activities can focus on the areas of outdoors, creativity, service, acquiring new skills, learning more about themselves and getting along with others.
- Adventure Program is for boys and girls in third through fifth grade. Adventure members earn Action Crafts beads for all the new things they do and for the good habits they learn. At this level youth begin to accept more responsibility for choosing and planning their club activities.
- Discovery is for sixth through eighth grades. It gives young people an opportunity to explore new interesting fields. Club members do much of their own planning and decision making, with the adult leader functioning more as an advisor than a supervisor. This is also when Camp Fire youth are eligible to make and wear ceremonial attire, often gowns or tunics, which are worn only at Camp Fire ceremonials.
- Horizon is for high school age youth in grades nine through twelve. These young people participate in self-guided programs geared toward preparing them for adult responsibilities and community service. Members may earn the WoHeLo Award.
Recognition is an important part of all Camp Fire programs. It helps children and adults build self-esteem and pride in their accomplishments. Official national recognition items are one of the features that make Camp Fire unique and special. For their participation, growth and achievements, youth receive distinctive items such as beads, emblems, pins and certificates. At the early levels, Camp Fire leaders help youth choose activities and guide them in earning the recognition items. As teens, members select their own activities and develop their own action plans for earning recognition items. For adults, recognition items signify outstanding achievement or the number of years they have been adult Camp Fire USA members. Adults in programming or board positions are also recognized on the local level for their important roles in Camp Fire.
Youth are able to earn beads, while completing projects on the “Camp Fire Trails," as well as emblems. (In the past, once the participant earned ten of one type of bead, he or she was awarded a larger one of the same type to represent the ten smaller ones.) By 2006, there was one bead for each of the Camp Fire Trails.
- Red – Sports, Games & Science – Trail to the Future (formerly Sports & Games)
- Brown – Outdoors & Environment – Trail to Environment (formerly Outdoors)
- Green – Creativity – Trail to Creativity (formerly Creative Arts)
- Yellow – Business & Home – Trail to Family and Community (formerly Business)
- Royal Blue – Citizenship – Trail to Knowing Me
- Red, White & Blue – (formerly Citizenship, discontinued in 2003 and replaced with Royal Blue)
- Orange – (formerly Home Craft, discontinued in 2003)
- Turquoise – (formerly Science, discontinued in 2003)
- Lime Green – (added in 2003) Discovery level
- Purple – (small beads) Special Projects (formerly large purple beads were awarded with the completion of each Torch Bearer received)
Established in 1962, and later renamed, the medallion is named for Camp Fire's watchword "WoHeLo". Each year approximately 200 Camp Fire youth throughout the nation receive the prestigious Wohelo Award. A youth may apply for the award after completing four major, specified, long-term projects called Reflections, and three self-selected projects, called Advocacies, dealing an area of concern of the youth member's choosing; one of which must be to Camp Fire, and one cannot be to Camp Fire. The third can be in either Camp Fire or outside of Camp Fire. Each of the three Advocacies must involve leading, teaching, serving, and speaking out. (Many councils today have removed the requirement that Advocacies must be completed to the Camp Fire program, citing that opportunities don't always exist for members enrolled in all areas of the country.) The third area of work for a Camp Fire Wohelo Award is to know Camp Fire. Each youth is required to read the History of Camp Fire, tour the office in their council, or other approved method of understanding the services Camp Fire provides.
In 2004, The Wohelo Award was expanded to Teens in Action members, allowing all high-school aged Camp Fire members to work toward Camp Fire’s highest achievement and honor.
Service Learning has always been a large part of the Camp Fire curriculum. In 2008–2009 Camp Fire councils engaged a total of 2,864 older youth in service learning projects, which totaled over 108,852 hours of work with 116 community partners. Working with Learn and Server America 27 Camp Fire councils were able to get 1,731 teens to help over 70,300 youth and family members from low income houseing understand emergency preparedness. The Gift of Giving program, for grades K–8th is currently the nation's only organized and measurable introduction to service-learning. To date over 100,000 children have participated in this program.
Teens in Action
The Teens in Action program is built on Camp Fire's long tradition of recognizing youth as part of the solution to, and not the problem with, today’s social challenges. Working together with young people, Teens in Action strives to improve the communities where youth live, to challenge youth to learn new skills and provide leadership in areas they never thought possible. Programs of this nature inspire and honor community responsibility, contribute to the future of American volunteerism and encourage a sense of caring for others.
The principles of Teens in Action are based on youth–adult partnerships and learning through empowering experiences. Its intent is to build strong ties between the teens and their families, schools and communities, and put a spotlight on issues of concern to youth. This program is based on the concept that young people are the key to the future and are making a difference in the world.
Hold on to Health 
Hold on to Health is a Camp Fire program that helps to teach children to make healthy decisions regarding exercise and eating. It also encourages children to get their families and other youth involved in becoming healthy.
Camp and environmental education 
Since Camp Fire's inception it has been about camping, and getting girls out in the wilderness to learn. The Gulick family had formed Camp WoHeLo before they had the idea to start the Camp Fire Organization. Currently Camp Fire is the largest coeducational nonsectarian camp provider. Operating over 130-day and resident camps throughout the USA., and annually serving over 61,000 school ages youth. Outdoor experiences help children work in groups, make friends and build self-esteem while learning about ecology, conservation and the interrelationships of all living things. The Camp Fire camping and environmental education experience is similar to that of with a family, teaching youth to work in teams, make friends, all while building self-esteem and good decision making skills. A common Camp Fire approach is to let the youth decide on their activities, this way they are able to feel a sense of ownership with their camp schedule, helping them to become more proactive. It is Camp Fire's belief that any program activities that the group does together are not as important or lasting as the effects of being with a group of peers and a supportive adult in an environment where they are able to share feeling sand learn from experience.
Counselor in Training
The Counselor in Training program is available to all youth over 16 who have an interest in some day becoming a counselor. The CIT program provides youth with leadership skills, self-confidence, good decision-making skills and camping basics—all skills that qualifies camp counselors possess. Camp Fire's CIT program and manual are some of the most frequently used by not only Camp Fire but other organizations, and is approved by the American Camping Association.
Community Family Club 
Community Family Club is a new program designed by Camp Fire to provide developmental programs for the whole family. It is designed for the whole family, regardless of the make-up of that family. The goal is to include at least one adult family member or a supporting adult from the community with every child who attends. Siblings of all ages, infants through teens, are included. Community Family clubs also provide opportunities to create strong partnerships with corporations, schools, faith-based communities, child care settings and other community organizations to advance the needs of children, youth and families across the country. Families come together once a month to share a meal and participate in a recognition ceremony designed to recognize both individual and group accomplishments. The club then breaks into age-level groups for an activity session led by a team of parents who volunteer for the short-term assignment for that month. This program offers parents and guardians the ability to find a community support group for raising their families, and also provides positive family interaction base on structured, educational and fun experiences and activities.
Absolutely Incredible Kid Day 
Started in 1997, AIKD is a national, annual letter-writing campaign in which adults write letters of love and support to the children in their lives. This event is held the third Thursday of March, to correspond to the founding date of Camp Fire.
In previous years, Absolutely Incredible Kid Day has garnered national recognition and acclaim, winning endorsements from child and family experts and advocates. Absolutely Incredible Kid Day has developed an incredible following, including athletes, entertainers and celebrities who have championed the cause by writing letters to America’s youth. In addition, more than half of the nation’s Fortune 100 companies have used Absolutely Incredible Kid Day to build morale by encouraging employees to reach out to a child, and more than 75 malls nationwide have supported the program by creating letter-writing booths and distributing information via merchants.
Past programs 
Bluebirds, Blue Jays, Sparks Through the years, many names have been used within Camp Fire to identify different age groups. Camp Fire's youngest members in elementary school were known as Bluebirds for many years.
In 1983, a club program for kindergartners was introduced. It was called Sparks. In 1989, these two age groups were combined and new program level for kindergarten, first and second graders called Starflight was created. The program of Little Stars for pre-schoolers was added in 2005. The tradition of bluebirds has been preserved as a Camp Fire mascot for all ages to enjoy.
Native American influence 
Native American culture has long been a source of inspiration in Camp Fire's traditional council activities. Native American culture has served as the inspiration for ceremonial activities and attire, camp and council names, respect for nature and the environment, and the use of symbols by many councils. For Camp Fire, Native American symbolism was a natural outgrowth of an appreciation for differences and cultural inclusiveness. The theory was that such symbolism enabled – and even encouraged – self-reflection and personal growth.
Each Camp Fire member between third and sixth grade is encouraged to choose a name that best reflects their personality and aspirations. At this time they are also encouraged to choose a symbol or "symbolgram". Clubs are also encouraged to choose a Native American name.
Ceremonial attire 
The Camp Fire ceremonial gown is based on the pattern for the Native American women's gowns. Due to its simple pattern that can be becoming to all girls, it is an inexpensive design that makes all girls equal, and it is easy to adjust as the owner grows older. Now a youth may choose any style of ceremonial attire, particularly if it honors the ethnic background to which the youth can trace his or her background or toward which he or she has an affinity. This attire can include tunics, kimonos, Scandinavian skirts/aprons, etc. The ceremonial attire is decorated with honor beads, earned emblems, and other personal items the youth chooses. Sometimes the youth's symbolgram is used on the gown/tunic. The symbolgram is a symbol created by the youth to represent him/herself. By 1946 the ceremonial gown was optional.
Camp Fire today 
Camp Fire is inclusive, open to all youth of any race, creed, religion, gender, national origin, economic status, and sexual orientation.
Currently there are 72 Councils in Camp Fire.
Camp Fire in Fiction and Popular Culture 
Throughout the years Camp Fire has appeared in many novels written for youth. Irene Ellion Benson wrote one of the first books to incorporate Camp Fire called How Ethel Hollister Became a Campfire Girl, published in 1912. Between 1912 and 1918 Irene Benson published six books with Camp Fire in them. In 1913, Margaret Vandercook started a series of Camp Fire Girls books which portrayed many activities, rituals, and ceremonies of Camp Fire, including their summer camps. In the 1980s Camp Fire was featured in the Carolyn Keene and Franklin Dixon's Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys Camp Fire Stories. British writers have even used Camp Fire and their rituals in British children's fiction. Author Elsie J. Oxenham often mentioned Camp Fire in her series the "Abbey".
Other writers who used Camp Fire in their writing include:
- Amy E. Blanchard
- Edward M. Carney
- Margaret Christian
- Marion Davidson, under the pen name Howard Roger Garis
- Julianne deVries
- Stella M. Francis
- Hildegard G. Frey
- Helen Hart
- Isabel Hornibrook
- Margaret Penrose
The 1990s Los Angeles, CA rock band Campfire Girls (band) referenced the history of Camp Fire in their name.
Notable people 
- Marian Anderson
- Shirley Temple Black
- Beverly Cleary
- Lauren Graham
- Gladys Knight
- Patrice Munsel – TV spokeswoman for the Camp Fire Girls in the 1950s and 1960s
- Janis Joplin
See also 
- British Camp Fire Girls' Association
- Religious emblems programs
- Camp Fire Girls (novel series)
- Scouting in popular culture
- "Camp Fire USA Fact Sheet". Alpha Phi Omega. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "Cultural Appropriation and the Crafting of Racialized Selves in American Youth Organizations: Toward an Ethnographic Approach". December 18, 2008.
- The Story of Camp Fire Girls, 1910–1960; Helen Buckler, Mary F. Fiedler, Martha F. Allen; Holt, Rinehart and Winston; 1961
- Marshall, Edward (March 17, 1912). "Girls Take Up the Boy Scout Idea and Band Together" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Paris, Leslie (2008). Children's Nature. NYU Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-8147-6707-8. Retrieved 1-29-2009.
- "All About Us". Camp Fire USA. 2005. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "Moscow District Camp Fire Girls – Historical Background". University of Idaho. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Paris, Leslie (2008). Children's Nature. NYU Press. pp. 49–51. ISBN 978-0-8147-6707-8. Retrieved January 30, 2009.>
- "Scout Like Organizations". troop 97. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Officials of both the Boy Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls were: Ernest Kent Coulter, Robert Garrett, Luther Halsey Gulick, George E. Johnson, Joseph Lee, Benjamin Barr Lindsey, Edgar Munroe Robinson, Mortimer Loeb Schiff, Ernest Thompson Seton, Lucien T. Warner, and James Edward West. See the lists in Handbook for Boys (BSA, 1911) and Camp Fire Girls Handbook.
- McFarland, John Thomas (1915). Giving a worldwide view of the History and Progress of the Sunday School and the Development of Religious Education.... T. Nelson & Sons. p. 194. Retrieved 1-30-09.
- The Book of Camp Fire Girls. George H. Doran Company. 1913. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- The New International Year Book. Dodd, Mead and Company. 1920. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- "Camp Fire Girls Issue". Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "Camp Fire Girls, Salt Creek Council". Northern Illinois University Library. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Wrenn, Charles Gilbert; Harley, Dudley Lee (1974). Time on Their Hands. Ayer Publishing. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-405-05993-3. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-CampFire.html/ Encyclopedia
- "Information Resource Book". Camp Fire USA. p. 21. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "Camp Fire Girls Move". New York Times. June 17, 1977. Retrieved 1-29-09.
- "Camp Fire USA Fact Sheet". Alpha Phi Omega. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "NPO Spotlight – News". Philanthropy News Digest. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Beard, Alice Marie. "For One Camp Fire Bead". Retrieved 1-30-09.
- Beard, Alice Marie. "Historical Origins of Camp Fire". Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- "Teen FAQ". Camp Fire USA. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- "Teens in Action". Camp Fire USA Patuxent Area Council. p. 5. Retrieved January 30, 2009.[dead link]
- Curtis, Henry Stoddard (1917). the Play Movement and Its Significance. The Macmillan company. p. 272. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- Ashby, Nicole (2001). "Camp Fire's Family Club Builds Partnerships". Department of Education. p. 8. Retrieved January 30, 2009.[dead link]
- "About Us". Camp Fire USA Big River Council. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Forman-Brunell, Miriam (2001). Girlhood in America. ABC-CILO. pp. 85–87. ISBN 978-1-57607-206-6. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Beard, Alice Marie. "Camp Fire Names and Symbolgrams". Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- Poast, Florence M. (1916). Indian Names Facts & Games. Thomsen—Bryan—Ellis Company. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Gulick, Charlotte Emily Vetter (1915). The Shul U Tam NA of the Camp fire Girls. Camp Fire Outfitting Co. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
- "Camp Fire Girls—Ceremonial Gowns". Vintage Kids Stuff. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Camp Fire USA "Core Values". Camp Fire USA.
- Beard, Alice Marie. "Camp Fire in Children's Fiction". Retrieved 12-2-09.
- New York Times Books, "Marian Anderson A Singer's Journey" By ALLAN KEILER (subscription access)
- "Lauren Graham on Bonnie Hunt Show". 10-06-08. Retrieved January 29, 2009.
- Camp Fire USA (official website)
- Historical origins of Camp Fire by Alice Marie Beard
- Camp Fire Law at Iowana Council's web site
- The Book of Camp Fire Girls c. 1913