History

Camp Fire was founded as Camp Fire Girls in 1910 by Luther Halsey Gulick, M.D., and his wife, Charlotte. It is the first non-sectarian organization created for girls in the United States. The watchword, Wohelo, and parts of this ceremony were developed by Mrs. Gulick in the summer of 1910. The watchword is made up of the first two letters of Work, Health, and Love.

Five years later, in 1915, Camp Fire North Texas started their 1st group of Camp Fire girls and this year, we are officially 101 years old, having celebrated our birthday in March.

The Native American culture has long been a source of inspiration for Camp Fire and stimulates creative expression, respect for nature, and sensitivity to the world around us.

Native American symbolism was a natural outgrowth of an appreciation for differences and cultural inclusiveness as well as the starting point for Camp Fire’s own unique symbolism. The founders believed that use of symbols and designs should have real meaning, express the ideals and personality of the maker, and encourage self-reflection and personal growth. Some of the participants may be wearing a ceremonial jacket, tunic, or gown of their own design or heritage, decorated with symbols and awards that display their accomplishments.

The history and the future of Camp Fire will remain indebted to the Native American culture for its positive influence on the organization and the youth it serves.

While we appreciate and honor our past, as American society and culture has evolved, so has Camp Fire.

Today, Camp Fire brings boys, girls, and families together through one organization, where they learn to play together, work together, and appreciate their similarities and differences in positive ways.

The organization’s mission is “Camp Fire builds caring, confident youth and future leaders.” Camp Fire youth created a promise to go with the mission statement, “Young people want to shape the world, Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice and discover who they are. In Camp Fire, it begins now. LIGHT THE FIRE WITHIN”

Last year alone, Camp Fire councils nation-wide logged over 30 million program hours in pursuit of that mission. Camp Fire offers quality programs reflective of best practices in its core program areas: Caring, Camping, Contributing, and Connecting.

Camp Fire is reflective of the mission, core values, and the quality of the Camp Fire experience. The youth find a fun and inclusive place with caring adults committed to providing a positive youth development setting. As in the past, Camp Fire is a place where children form lasting relationships, develop a sense of belonging, and are actively involved in their own learning.

As we celebrate Camp Fire’s role—past, present, and future—in delivering quality program opportunities to youth and their families, we hope to inspire future efforts to advance the mission of Camp Fire and chart the course for an even brighter future.