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Camp Fire Girls Handbook

Membership, Rank, and Names


1. Applicant for Membership. The applicant must know the object and requirements of the organization, and at the monthly meeting of the Council Fire shall announce her desire to become a Camp Fire Girl by repeating:

"It is my desire to become a Camp Fire Girl,
and to obey the Law of the Camp Fire, which is to

Seek beauty
Give service
Pursue knowledge
Be trustworthy
Hold on to health
Glorify work
Be happy.

This Law of the Camp Fire I will strive to follow."

The Guardian explains the Law, phrase by phrase. The applicant is then received on probation as a member of the Camp Fire, until she has fulfilled the six requirements necessary to attain the rank of Wood Gatherer.

2. To Become a Wood Gatherer. To complete her membership and receive the silver ring she must fulfill the following six requirements:

  1. Be a member of a Camp Fire for at least two months.
  2. Attend at least six weekly meetings and two ceremonial meetings.
  3. Select a name and symbol.
  4. Make a headband.
  5. Have the ceremonial dress.
  6. Win in addition at least ten elective honors.

Upon meeting these requirements, a girl becomes a Wood Gatherer and receives the Wood Gatherer's ring as a token of her membership in the Camp Fire Girls. When she receives her ring at a Council Fire, she must repeat the Wood Gatherer's desire.

The ring is given without cost and belongs to the girl even when her membership ceases. It represents the seven points of the Law in seven fagots bound together, and Work, Health and Love in three raised circles on either side of the fagots. Lost rings may be replaced upon application by the Guardian for fifty cents each.

As soon as a girl has completed the requirements for a Wood Gatherer, record of her membership is filed in the National Office. Except under unusual conditions if a girl does not complete her membership and so become a Wood Gatherer in four months, she should be dropped from the Camp Fire.

3. The ceremonial gown and head-band are required before a girl may become a Wood Gatherer, because experience has shown that in them is found the democracy of spirit, the artistic unity, and the beauty of form, which are so desirable in the activities of the Camp Fire Girls. To this end only the official ceremonial dress should be worn. The materials have been carefully selected because of beauty of color, durability and inexpensiveness. The decorations on the ceremonial dress should be a symbolic or pictographic record of the attainments, relationships, ideals and hopes of the owner. Thus it should grow as she does. It will become a beautiful symbolic record of what is most precious in the life of the girl, and may be passed on as a priceless inheritance to her children.

The importance of the ceremonial gown has grown during the two years since the Camp Fire Girls was started. At first the girls put on decoration simply to make it look pretty, but now no decoration has a place that has not a meaning. The gown is simplicity itself, and yet it offers wonderful opportunities for telling stories. All the things a girl loves can be symbolized and wrought into beautiful decoration.

One Guardian has all the symbols of her girls embroidered on the bottom of her costume, and above each girl's symbol she has embroidered stitches of different colors to represent each honor won by that individual girl.

The real significance of the ceremonial gown was not appreciated until a Grand Council Fire was held. Then girls from every station in life came together all clad alike. It was just as becoming to the poor girl as to the rich girl. Its value as bringing about a true democratic feeling between girls of all classes cannot be estimated. They are all one in this great sisterhood.

Care should be taken that the ceremonial gown should not grow common and of little significance by being worn on the street, in parades, etc. Camp Fire symbols, insignia and banners can be made a distinguishing mark of the Camp Fire Girls and save exploiting the ceremonial gown, for it should be kept for the more private Camp Fire activities.

In the matter of partisan parades, such as woman's suffrage, the Camp Fire organization cannot take sides either for or against, although individual members among the girls and Guardians are entirely free to identify themselves as they please. In such cases the ceremonial gown should not appear.

The case of pageant floats is a little different, and many Camp Fires have decorated floats with beautiful woodland scenes in which they appeared in their ceremonial dresses without sacrificing any of the delicate personal feeling which should cling to them.

4. To Become a Fire Maker.

(1) The candidate must be at least thirteen years old. The Guardian must use her best judgment in determining how long a girl should be a Wood Gatherer before allowing her to become a Fire Maker. It is not merely a matter of winning the required and elective honors. Earnestness and maturity must also count. Any girl who is faithful ought to be able to win the rank in a year. If a girl is approaching the twenties, is deeply in earnest and has time for the work, she might be allowed to present her claim in as short a period as three months. But this should be regarded as the rare exception. If she is living in a Camp Fire Girls' camp, giving her entire time to the work, is mature, loyal and really understands the spirit, the Guardian may allow her to become a candidate in six weeks.

(2) The candidate shall further indicate her love and under standing of the Camp Fire ideal by learning and expressing--

(3) In addition the candidate must fulfill the Required Honors. These honors are symbolized by purple beads.

(4) The candidate shall present also twenty Elective Honors. At least one honor must be won in each group, and with the exception of Home Craft not more than five honors may be presented from any one group.

5. To Become a Torch Bearer.
(1) The candidate must be at least fifteen years of age, and must be approved by the Guardian as ready to bear the torch of life and light to guide others. It should take a good Fire Maker from at least six months to two years to be ready for this rank and responsibility. It is not merely nor mainly a matter of winning the honors. To be a Torch Bearer should really mean that the girl has shown powers of steady leadership. This is the most important qualification of the Torch Bearer.

(2) The candidate shall learn and repeat--

A Torch Bearer is an assistant to the Guardian. She is a leader. That is what carrying the torch means.

(3) The candidate must be known to the Guardian as trust-worthy, happy, unselfish, a good leader, a good "team worker," and as liked by the other girls.

(4) The candidate shall have led a group of not less than three girls once a week for not less than three months, or four times a week for one month. It might be a group of Blue Birds. She will naturally select things to do in which she is proficient and which the girls like. This does not mean that she can organize them as Camp Fire girls. The real test is the enthusiasm and success of the girls she teaches.

(5) The candidate shall present fifteen honors from the list of Elective Honors in addition to those she presented for the rank of Fire Maker.

6. Specialist Honors. Any Torch Bearer over sixteen years of age may win Specialist Honors. These are qualifications in special lines.

7. Membership Transferable. If a Camp Fire Girl moves from one city to another she may, when elected, transfer her membership to a Camp Fire in the city to which she goes. Or she may help in organizing a Camp Fire and securing a Guardian. She retains the rank she held in the group of which she was formerly a member. A transfer blank will be found in the Record Book.

8. Choosing Camp Fire Names. The name of the Camp Fire may be suggested by a primitive legend or custom, by the natural resources or industries of the locality, by some woman who has been of special service to the community, or by the desire of the girls as a group. A Camp Fire in one of the Western States may be called the Alsea Camp Fire because it is in the Alsea Valley. The Indian legend is told that no matter how fierce the war between neighboring tribes, in this beautiful valley the Indians were always at peace and so they called the valley Alsea, meaning peace. The symbol for this Camp Fire is two low brown triangles with bases touching, to suggest the valley between the mountains. The Hannah Dustin Camp Fire, situated near Deerfield, Massachusetts, may have for its emblem a canoe with the totem of the tribe from which she saved herself and her little boy. The Sequoia Camp Fire may have a reddish brown, long trunked, pointed topped tree for its symbol because it tells of the giant redwoods. A group of girls in Butte, Montana, may name themselves the Copper City Camp Fire Girls, because of the principal industry of their home city, and they may use the pick and shovel in copper color as their symbol. The more simple the symbolic design the more effective it will be and the more varied may be its use.

A Camp Fire girl chooses or wins her own name and symbol, which stands for the qualities or accomplishments by which she wishes to be known. From a collection of Indian legends the names "Wanaka," sun-halo, and "Chelan," clear water, were taken. One girl had been watching the oven-bird build its nest and then took the Indian name of that bird. Another girl took her name from the words, "needed and cheerful," two things which she wished to be, and now she is known as "Neachee." "Pakwa" chose the frog as her symbol, for its skill in diving; "Kanxi" chose the honey-bee for its sweetness. "Morning Star" likes to take walks before breakfast and hopes soon to get breakfast all alone for the other members of the family. "Evening Star," her sister, is the one who puts the two younger children to bed, and she is winning her first honors in telling folk-stories and Indian legends to them. "Grey Leaves" found her name in the poem, "The Master and the Trees," by Sidney Lanier.

The names and symbols of the Camp Fires or of the Camp Fire Girls may be suggested from any source, especially from folk-lore of the different countries, but are perhaps more often taken from the Indian lore, because it is suggestive of the spirit of out-of-doors, of the ingenious use of the materials at hand, and is so distinctly American.

Often, when names have been too hastily chosen, the girls are anxious to change them for new names. Many times a more thoughtful study of the name will reveal some study of symbolism not before known or realized. If so, it is wise to hold to the original name. But if the girl's desires have so changed that a different name is more appropriate, let the old name be written on a piece of paper, and at the Council Fire the Guardian may explain the reason for the change. She then throws the paper into the flames and tells the girls that, as she throws the paper into the flames, it is a sign that the name is gone forever and must never be mentioned by the girls again; hereafter, the girl is to be known by her new name.

The Law in "Air-Pictures"

Camp Fire Girls Handbook
 Purpose | Membership | Honors

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