Camp Fire Girls Day
Camp Fire Girls Day celebrates Camp Fire, a youth development organization with many programs, many of which that focus on outdoor activities such as camping. The group was originally called Camp Fire Girls of America. They changed their name to Camp Fire Boys and Girls in 1975, after allowing boys to join. In 2001, they became Camp Fire USA, and since 2012 they have been known as Camp Fire. They are an inclusive group, allowing all to join regardless of factors such as gender, creed, race, sexual orientation, and economic status. Camp Fire Girls Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of the organization.
A 150th-anniversary celebration of the town Thetford, Vermont, was to be held in 1911, and in the previous year, the youth in the community were practicing for the following years' events. The Boy Scouts had a formal role, and girls wanted to be included too. The days' organizer, William Chauncey Langdon, talked to Mrs. Charles Farnsworth, a teacher at a nearby school, and together they approached Luther Gulick about creating a national organization for girls. While being assisted by Gulick and his wife Charlotte, Langdon named his group of girls the Camp Fire Girls. The Gulicks had been consulted because they had a camp for girls, Camp WoHeLo, on Lake Sebago in Maine. Both Langdon's group in Thetford and the Gullick's group would lead to a formally organized group. On March 17, 1912, Camp Fire Girls of America was incorporated.
The group was seen as being a sister organization of the Boy Scouts of America. In late 1912, Juliette Gordon Law asked to have her group—which eventually became the Girl Scouts of the USA—merge with Camp Fire Girls of America, but Camp Fire was the larger group at the time and declined. By the end of 1913, Camp Fire had 60,000 members. Their first handbook was published in 1914, and during World War I they sold Liberty Bonds, conserved food, and supported French and Belgian orphans.
They celebrated their 50th anniversary with a project where two million trees were planted and 13,000 birdhouses were built. By 1974, their membership was at 274,000, and the following year they began allowing in boys and changed their name to Camp Fire Boys and Girls.
Camp Fire has programs focusing on many things: after-school programs, small group activities, mentoring opportunities, leadership development, camping and environmental education, child care learning, and service learning. Many programs are specific to community needs, but members often get to choose which projects they want to focus on, giving them more of a sense of ownership. Camping has long been a big part of Camp Fire, and there are now 130 camps throughout the country.
Members work in different age group levels. From the youngest to oldest they are Little Stars, Starflight, Adventure, Discovery, and Horizon. Members receive items for their work and achievement, such as beads, emblems, pins, and certificates. Different colored beads are given for completing projects of a different nature. The WoHeLo medallion award is given to about 200 members a year and is the organization's most prestigious award.
How to Observe Camp Fire Girls Day
Celebrate the day by signing your children up for Camp Fire, or by volunteering for the organization! You could find a local council and explore the organization's programs. This is also a good day to get out in nature, plan a camping trip, or build a campfire.