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Camp Fire Girls Handbook



1. The Camp Fire Girls is an organization of girls and women to develop the home spirit and make it dominate the entire community. Hence, the ranks should be recruited first from those who have ability to do and to help rather than from those who need help.

It is an army of girls rather than a mission to them.

It is a means of organizing a girl's daily home life. It shows that romance, beauty and adventure are to be found on every hand and in wholesome ways; that the daily drudgery may be made to contribute to the beauty of living. It gives boys and girls wholesome, interesting things to do together. It deliberately intends to promote happy social life.

It uses beautiful ceremonies, has an appealing ritual and bases rank and honors upon personal attainment. There are attractive ceremonial costumes, honor beads, and decorations. It interprets daily things in terms of poetry, symbolism, color and imagination.

Mothers are the Guardians in many cases, and the meeting places are usually the homes of the girls and the out-of-doors.

The Guardian is an older woman who, because of her larger experience, is able to help girls to attain their desires.

The purposes as defined by the Constitution are:

Section 1. The purpose of this corporation shall be to perpetuate the spiritual ideals of the home under the new conditions of a social community, through the organization of girls and women into units divided by age into Camp Fires and Junior groups.

Section 2. The organization shall endeavor to show that the common things of daily life are the chief means of beauty, romance and adventure.

Section 3. The organization shall endeavor to aid in the formation of habits making for health and vigor, the out-of-door habit and the out-of-door spirit.

Section 4. The organization shall endeavor to devise and put in use ways of measuring and creating standards for woman's work.

Section 5. The organization shall endeavor to give to girls and women incentive ideals and objects for doing "team work," for "keeping step."

Section 6. The organization shall endeavor to foster intimate relation between mothers and daughters by giving status and social recognition to the work of the mother.

Section 7. The organization shall endeavor to develop among girls and women a sympathetic understanding of the newer economic relationships into which women are coming.

Section 8. The organization shall definitely undertake to improve the social life in the community of each of its constituent groups through the promotion of such community social activities as pageants, celebrations, social centers, organized vacations, and tramping, amateur drama and music.

2. Self Government. The Camp Fire Girls is a self-governing organization. It is controlled as follows: The Corporation or Board of Electors consists of the Guardians of all Camp Fires who pay dues, and additional persons especially elected. This Board of Electors meets annually and elects the Board of Directors who conduct the work.

3. Self Support. Camp Fire Girls aim to support as well as control their own national work. This we expect to have accomplished before the close of the year 1915. This is to be accomplished through: fees of "a cent a girl a week," i.e., fifty cents a year; royalties of five per cent, on all Camp Fire Girl articles sold, and advertising in Camp Fire Girl publications, sale of Manual, etc.

4. Historical Scetch of the Camp Fire Girls. In the Spring of 1911 a meeting was held to consider the advisability of forming an organization which should do for girls what the boy Scouts were doing for boys. Among those active in this initial movement were Mr. William Chauncy Langdon, Mrs. Charles H. Farnsworth, Dr. and Mrs. Luther H. Gulick, Prof. Mary Schenck Woolman, Dr. Anna Brown, MRs. Ernest Thompson Seton, Mr. Lee F. Hanmer, Mr. James E. West, Mr. Justus A. Traut and Miss Lina Beard.

Preliminary work was done during the SUmmer and Fall. During the following WInter a manual was prepared, funds were secured and an organization created and offices opened.

The following persons have been mainly responsibile for financial support:

Mrs. C. B. Alexander
Mrs. Sidney C. Borg
George T. Brokaw
Andrew Carnegie
Charles Henry Davis
Cleveland H. Dodge
Miss Elizabeth W. Dodge
Miss Grace Dodge
Robert Garrett
J. J. Goldman
Frederick C. Green
S. R. Guggenheim
Mrs. WIlliam Kent
Samuel A. Lewisohn
F. J. Lisman
F. Everit Macy
Mrs. Howard Mansfield
Mrs. William C. Osborn
Mrs. Frederic B. Pratt
George D. Pratt
John D. Rockefeller
Dr. E. A. Rumely
Mrs. Russell Sage
Mortimer L. Schiff
Mrs. Finley J. Shepard

The following persons were the original Board of Electors:

Miss Jane Addams
Miss Florence Brown
Dr. Marion L. Burton
Dr. John H. Finley
Robert Garrett
Frederick C. Green
Mrs. L. H. Gulick
Hutchins Hapgood
Mrs. Phoebe Hearst
Mrs. William Kent
Mrs. Sidney Lanier
Judge Ben J. Lindsey
Joseph Lee
Dr. Helen MacMurchy
Walter Page
Mrs. George Pratt
Mr. Myron T. Scudder
Miss Ida Tarbell
Mrs. Richard Wainwright
Dr. C. H. Watson
Mrs. Ella Flagg Young

5. Organization of Camp Fires. The organization is primarily related to home and social life, hence it should consist usually of girls of about the same age, who naturally belong together, whose homes are near to each other, and who like one another. That is, the best results are to be secured by having the Guardian and the group socially homogeneous.

The parents should co-operate actively in bringing the work about and carrying it on. One of the mothers is often the Guardian with others as assistants.

Each group of girls over twelve years old is called a Camp Fire. Each Camp Fire secures a charter.

Each Camp Fire consists of at least six girls. This is in order that there may be a sufficient number to develop the "team sprit."

The best size for a Camp Fire is from ten to fourteen girls. This will permit intimate acquaintance among the girls and the Guardian. No Camp Fire may have more than twenty active members.

The responsible head of a Camp Fire is called Guardian of the Fire. She must be at least twenty-one years of age. She is appointed by the National Board.

Camp Fire Girls are over twelve years old.

Camp Fire Blue Birds are over six years old. The group is know as the Blue Bird Nest. (A Blue Bird Manual will eventually be prepared.) Blue Birds are the younger sisters and friends of the Camp Fire Girls. It is not an independent organization.

The Camp Fire Girls have three ranks: Wood Gatherer, Fire Maker, and Torch Bearer. Each rank has its special emblem which should be worn on the right sleeve.

The symbol of membership in the Camp Fire Girls is the silver fagot ring. This is given by the National Board without cost to each girl when she becomes a Wood Gatherer.

Each Camp Fire as well as each Camp Fire Girls has a special name and symbol.

Ceremonial meetings are held monthly. At summer camps they should be held weekly. At these meetings a ritual is used, the Count is read, honors are awarded, rank is conferred, and new members are received.

Weekly meetings are held to help the girls formulate their daily work and to teach them new activities, such as honors in handwork, home work, entertaining, sports, business, and keeping and illustrating the Record Book. Often these meetings are held in conjunction with a hike and the study of nature lore.

6. Honors are awarded to members in recognition of attainment. They are symbolized by distinctively colored beads which have been selected by the National Board for their simplicity and suitability for decoration. The honors are divided into six groups as follows:

(1). Required honors: These are attainments which are required before a girl may become a Fire Maker. Such attainments are indicated by purple beads.

(2) Elective Honors: These form the basis of Camp Fire work and are divided into seven groups: Home Craft, Health Craft, Camp Craft, Hand Craft, Nature Lore, Business, and Patriotism. Honors won in these crafts count towards the rank of Fire Maker and Torch Bearer.

(3) Big Honors: These may be won by any Fire Maker over fourteen years of age in any of the Elective Honor groups.

(4) Torch Bearer Honors: These are for Torch Bearers over sixteen years of age who specialize in certain honors.

(5) Local Honors: Honors for special cases.

(6) National Honors: Honors awarded for services of general use to the Camp Fire Girls.

7. Mixed Information:

(1) Symbolic Art Forms. Ideals, aspirations and visions have always been expressed through art forms, poetry, music, form, color, ritual ceremony, etc. Accordingly, Camp Fire Girls use all of these to help to express their visions and purposes. Symbols help to convey meanings which it is difficult to put into logical speech, hence, symbolic art forms are used as a frame for the activities of daily life. Upon this conception of the relation of art and life have been developed the ceremonial gown and meetings.

(2) Signs and Symbols. Fire is the symbol of the organization, for around it the first homes were built. Camp Fire stands not only for the home, but also for the genuineness and simplicity of the out-of-doors. The sun is used as a general symbol for fire. This symbol is used particularly as the Guardian's Pin.

The symbol of membership is the standing pine. It means simplicity and strength.

Wohelo is the watchword. It is made up of the first two letters of Work, of Health, and of Love.

The hand sign of fire, used as a salutation, is made by flattening the fingers of the right hand against those of the left. This indicates crossed logs. From this position the hand is slowly raised, following the curves of an imaginary flame until the index-finger points straight up.

(3) Wohelo. This is the name of the official publication, an illustrated monthly. Price $1.00 a year.

(4) Supplies. All supplies may be secured from the Camp Fire Outfitting Company, 17-19 West 17th Street, New York City. This includes ceremonial dresses, honor beads, Fire Maker's bracelet, Torch Bearer's pin, Guardian's pin, etc.

8. How to Organize. The application for Guardian's authorization and for the charter should be made together. The woman who wishes to be Guardian should fill out the blank enclosed, and send it with twenty-five cents to the National Board. The investigation preliminary to the appointment of a Guardian usually takes from four to six weeks.

The Charter application must be signed by the girls desiring to become members, and this, together with five dollars (to cover the charter outfit) should be mailed with the application for appointment of Guardian.

Four Steps Toward Success.
Use the out-of-doors. Go on a tramp at least once a month. Have a fire. Let each trip have a special program; e.g., to some historical spot--learning the story; to observe interesting rocks or trees--seeing and knowing birds, etc.
(2) Use the motion songs. There is nothing that carries the idea of the Camp Fire Girls and serves to develop enthusiasm as vigorous singing of the Camp Fire Girls' motion songs. Sing each one over and over until it is perfectly familiar. Make up new songs.
(3) Use the ceremonies. This involves study and practice, but is as essential to success as a frame is to a picture or the right words are to a poetic idea.
(4) Meet regularly and have each meeting planned beforehand.

Camp Fire Girls Handbook
 Purpose | Membership | Honors

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