Camp Fire 4-260,
Potomac Area Council,
1984 - 1994
(13 photos below, this is a slow loading page meant for friends.)
(Council is now known as Patuxent Area Council.)

Camp Fire logoIn October 1984, Camp Fire 4-260 of the Potomac Area Council began when my kindergarten son came home from his first Camp Fire meeting and said, "There were all girls there, and the leader had us play with paper dolls." Having grown up in Camp Fire as a child, it was an experience I wanted to share with my son. After a few phone calls, we had a boys' Camp Fire group; before the year had ended, we were coed. In the ten years that I was the "Guardian of the flame" of Camp Fire 4-260, over thirty children joined around the campfire at one time or another: Josh, Ted, Ben, Edgar, Sally, Francesca, Amanda, Billy, Kristy, Elena, Dan, Jenny, Adam, Mike, Clarence, Andrew, Conor, Jim, Sabrina, Claire, Sean, Sarah, Willie, Timothy, Javi, Megan, John, Miriam, Erica, Meredith, Alice, Alfonso, Julie, Nikki, Cindy. [Sean made Eagle Scout at the end of 8th grade! He began in Camp Fire as a little boy. He switched to Boy Scouts of America as he got a little older, and he earned his Eagle rank in BSA in record time.]

Important for anyone from 4-260:
Ted, John's brother, was seriously injured in a car accident May 2000.
After a year in the hospital, he is at home,
and his improvement has been vast!
Ted and his mother welcome your calls.

Where did Camp Fire 4-260 camp? Assateague Island, Takahano in West Virginia, Big Meadows in the Shenendoah Mountains, on the floor of the Maryland Science Center. One time we camped at Assateague Island, and we played baseball on the beach until the stars came out. Another morning we awoke in the Shenendoah Mountains with deer wandering thru our camp site. Special for 4-260: Billy Goat Trail emblem; Baseball Under the Stars emblemWe camped out at Takahano at the annual Council-wide Halloween weekend. We slept on the floor at the Science Center along with other Camp Fire groups as the kids did 24 hours of science projects; the Camp Fire girls and boys tried to stay awake all night while their leaders tried to sleep.

Where did we hike? The Billy Goat Trail off the C & O Canal, Old Rag, Cabin John, Lake Frank, Cunningham Falls, Constitution Avenue in D.C., Great Falls in Virginia, DC's Roosevelt Island, Mt. Vernon, the Appalachian Trail, Rock Creek Park to the National Zoo. We hiked in the snow, the sun, and the mud. One Groundhog's Day hike became known as "the mud hike" because our feet kept sinking in the mud. The Billy Goat Trail was always a favorite; it was over two miles up and down rocks and got its name because the skills of a Billy Goat were needed to manage the rocks.

What else did we do? We ice skated, square danced, swam, played in a basketball tourney, canoed on the C & O Canal, white water rafted in West Virginia, went sledding in the snow, bicycled, played in a creek and caught tadpoles, went Christmas caroling. We took trips to a doll house and toy museum, a bagel bakery, the National Zoo, the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial, King's Dominion, a horse barn, an aquarium, and the National Archives where we saw the Constitution.

We made applesauce, muffins, little pizzas, "sculptured cookies," chocolate chip cookies, "slime cookies," taffy, fudge, campfire mashed potatoes, brownies. We made deer skin pouches, sock puppets, tin can phones, apple faces, spice balls, and quilt squares. We took pictures and developed our own film.

We planted bulbs at the local school, cleaned up trash from the neighborhood woods, built blue bird houses for the local Audubon Society, sang at nursing homes, wrote to U.S. soldiers in South Korea, assembled and donated "comfort kits" to a shelter for the homeless, donated nature books to the school library, donated stuffed animals to the community rescue squad for use with young children, collected over 300 pairs of old eyeglasses to donate to the Lions, recycled old Christmas cards to make books for hospitalized children, and made valentines for hospitalized veterans for Valentine's Day. Our valentines varied from year to year: Paper, cookies, deer skin bookmarks, wood & nail wall hangings, clay paper weights. Always when we gave service, we tried to remember to put our hands and heart into it.

Some projects were annuals but could take different forms each year. We made bird feeders every winter: Pinecones coated lightly with peanut butter and bird seed, tied to trees with yarn; popcorn and cranberries on long strings, draped on bushes; empty "orange halves" filled with a suet and seed mix, with yarn threaded thru the orange peel for hanging from a tree. We made T-shirts most years: Died blue with the club name spray painted in silver using a pattern cut from card board; collected leaves laid in a pattern on the shirt and the shirt spray painted with the leaves in place; white shirts decorated with red and blue "puffy paints"; shirts tie-dyed red and blue with Camp Fire iron-ons put on as the finishing touch; shirts autographed by all the club members.

One of our favorite and often repeated projects was making candles from sheets of beeswax. The kids rolled them and decorated them with sequins and glitter. They made wonderful Christmas or Valentine's Day gifts.

Early on the kids decorated a white sheet with colored permanent markers. The sheet served us well for many picnics over many years, and by fourth grade, it was fun to see which kids had printed letters backward in kindergarten.

Because of geography, our group had some unusual opportunities. In 1990 we were invited to the White House to be part of the audience when President Bush proposed a new plan for service organizations. By chance, I was given some special tickets, and the boys in my Camp Fire group managed to sit immediately behind the Beach Boys, who sat immediately behind President Bush as he spoke.

Still, these lists of activities do not tell the story of Camp Fire 4-260. It was made up of individuals, each with his or her own story:

There was the boy who wanted to be a professional basketball player, but whose body did not cooperate by growing tall. I sat next to him on my front porch as he whittled on a stick, with him sad because he believed he had no chance in the world of basketball because he was not tall. I said, "Stay put. I've got something to show you." I returned with my high-school yearbook, opened the page to the basketball team at my high school in the 1965-1966 school year, and said, "Billy, you've seen that movie 'Hoosiers' about the really good basketball coach and the little team that beat the big team. Well, here's a picture of the REAL coach." Billy looked down at the big smile of the real life, short, bald, winning
Marvin Wood, and said, "He was short!"

There was the boy from Africa whose mom began sending only bread in her son's lunch. I was annoyed with her forgetfulness until I learned that -- because of a financial crisis in their homeland -- her husband had lost his job at their embassy, and the country had frozen their assets so they could not get any money from their bank back home. My solution was to put out a jar of cookies and a basket of apples for all of the kids: The hungry kid ate, and no one noticed the food was directed at him.

There was the little Jewish girl who looked up at a Christmas party and asked, "When are we going to sing happy birthday to Jesus?" Some of the Christian kids had forgotten what Christmas was supposed to be about, but the little Jewish girl remembered.

As they got older, one boy volunteered to help special needs kids in his high school. Another is doing volunteer teaching while he's in college, sharing his love of science with kids near his college. One's a U.S. Marine.

These kids did not always have it easy. One girl's mother died suddenly when the girl was in middle school. Over one-quarter of the families represented by the boys and girls of Camp Fire 4-260 went thru a divorce before the kids got out of grammar school. Several children had to deal with parents being "RIFed," the modern term for losing one's job because of the economy. One child had to deal with her own parent's drug addiction. The hope is that these young people will remember that whatever problems life gives them can be dealt with better by following the Camp Fire Law:

Worship God.
Seek beauty.
Give service.
Pursue knowledge.
Be trustworthy.
Hold onto health.
Glorify work.
Be happy.

But I'd bet good money that the only way any of the members of Camp Fire 4-260 can say the Camp Fire Law is by singing it first.

In the ten years that the flame of Camp Fire 4-260 burned, we did many things, but we never once played with paper dolls. Wo-He-Lo!

Photo memories of Camp Fire 4-260

Four kids in the treehouse at Takahano

Climbing the Billy Goat Trail

Outside the leader's house on a cold day

Breakfast at Takahano

Mt. Vernon in the background

The infamous "mud hike"

A hometown parade

The frog pond at Takahano

White water rafting in West Virginia

The rope bridge at Takahano

Takahano, outside the Bunk House

Lighting the Wo-He-Lo candles

To the people who made up Camp Fire 4-260:
Thanks for the memories!

Mahawe's Memory Book
|basic info| |BSA-CFG connection| |historical origins of Camp Fire|
Dr. Charles A. Eastman: Ohiyesa|
Camp Fire symbolgrams| |CF in children's fiction|
emblems| |honor beads| |friendship sticks|
cookie recipes| |old memories| |CF 4-260|

Search this site

email Alice
site by Alice Marie Beard