Camp Fire totem pole, Montgomery Co., Maryland

The United States Postal Service has issued two stamps recognizing Camp Fire. The first was in 1960 when a stamp cost four cents and when the official name was still "Camp Fire Girls." The second showed a canoe and was issued in 1985 when a stamp cost 22 cents. The 1985 stamp was one of a block of four. The other three stamps were for Boy Scouts of America, YMCA youth camping, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

1960 US postage stamp

1985 U.S. postage stamps

Over the years, the logo symbolizing Camp Fire has changed. Below are five logos used by Camp Fire, including the most up-to-date look for the new millennium:



1940s, 1950s, 1960s

1970s, 1980s, 1990s

for the new millennium

Camp Fire Law in symbols

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Camp Fire logos over the years
Camp Fire: for good times, for lifetimes
Camp Fire:
Giving service since 1910

Now known as "Camp Fire," the organization began in 1910 as "Camp Fire Girls."

Camp Fire is an American scouting organization that has been co-ed for two generations and has youth from pre-kindergarten through age 21. It began as the sister organization to Boy Scouts of America.

Like a campfire at the end of a long day, Camp Fire is meant to be a warm, safe place for good folks to gather.

This little girl's service project netted 208 pairs of glasses for Lions Club.Camp Fire Law

Worship God.
Seek beauty;
Give service, &
Knowledge pursue.
Be trustworthy ever, in all that you do.
Hold fast onto health,
And your work glorify,
And you will be happy, in the law of Camp Fire.

CLICK HERE for the music.


Camp Fire youth are expected to learn the basic tenet:
"Give service."

Camp Fire youth are taught to give service in their families, in their clubs, in their Councils, in their neighborhoods, and in their larger communities. Giving service is taught as something worthy of being done for a whole lifetime, wherever the person is.


Watchword: WoHeLo
Wo-He-Lo. The word is made from the first two letters of the words WORK, HEALTH, and LOVE. It is used as a greeting, a farewell, and a wish by those in Camp Fire.

It is not a secret word. There are no secret words, secret ceremonies, or secret handshakes in Camp Fire. There is no secret society aspect about Camp Fire.

One little girl,
lighting the candles of Wo-He-Lo.


Singing the Camp Fire Law
Most Camp Fire youth learn the Camp Fire Law by singing it. The Law seldom is spoken; it is most often sung.

To hear the melody for the Camp Fire Law, CLICK HERE.

The first two words are spoken: "Worship God." A three-note "hum" follows those spoken words. Then the singing begins.

The music is the old Scottish folk melody "Flow Gently Sweet Afton." The music was written by Alexander Hume; the words of "Flow Gently" were written by Robert Burns in 1786. The Afton is a river in Scotland, and the song has a man asking the river to flow gently because the woman he loves is sleeping next to the river.


Program levels
Little Stars: pre-school, ages three to five.
clubs: K through 2nd grade, with special programing for kindergarteners."
Service To Another Rewards" is a message that Camp Fire tries to teach all children, and the acronym for that message is STAR. Young children who join Camp Fire are beginning a journey of service to others.
Adventure clubs: 3rd through 5th grades.
Discovery clubs: 6th through 8th grades.
Horizon clubs: 9th through 12th grades, and early college years.

Books with programing for all levels are available for purchase from Camp Fire's national offices in Kansas City, MO. Check Camp Fire's official site:


Youth awards
(emblems, not badges) Camp Fire awards emblems for the completion of longer term projects. Some emblem projects are open only to children in specific program levels. Others are open to all youth. Some emblem projects are created for specific events or times. Most are constant and always available to be worked on and achieved by youth.

Honor beads, actually. Children below third grade are not eligible to earn honor beads. Beads are given to recognize completion of shorter term projects listed on over 100 pages in Adventure Trails, the book for youth in Adventure-level clubs. The short term projects are called action crafts. They are divided into the five Camp Fire basics:

home & business
sports & science

Honor beads are pictured at the top of this page:
RED: red balls for sports & games and for science ("Trail to the Future").
YELLOW: angular beads for business & home ("Trail to Family & Community").
GREEN: 4-sided beads for creativity.
BROWN: little logs for outdoors & environment ("Trail to the Environment").
ROYAL BLUE: triangular beads for citizenship ("Trail to Knowing Me"). In years past, these beads were red, white, and blue.

Two colors of beads pictured on this page continue to be used in modern times by the more traditional Camp Fire club leaders:
ORANGE: cylindrical beads for home ("Trail to Family & Community").
flat, oval beads for science ("Trail to the Future").

For major listings of bead requirements, see these pages:
creative arts
business and home
science and sports & games.

The WoHeLo Award:
The highest award a youth may receive. There are two different ways for a youth to earn the WoHeLo:

FIRST, the traditional way:
WoHeLo Award emblemAfter completing a set of four major, long-term projects (Celebrate Me, Choices & Decisions, Mapping My Way, and Making it on My Own), the youth selects two issues related to his/her neighborhood, community, religious group, or peers, or to young children, senior citizens, the environment, or the like. For each of the two issues, the youth must lead, teach, serve, and speak out.

SECOND, the Teens In Action way:
The youth completes a series of service-learning projects, helping within his/her community in such projects as recycling, repairing old houses, teaching young children. The projects are selected and planned by each Teens in Action group, with the teens doing the selecting and planning.

EITHER WAY, upon completion, the work must be documented and approved by the youth's advisory committee of three adults. The documentation and committee approval are then forwarded to Camp Fire National, and National makes the final determination of the WoHeLo award.


The Camp Fire look
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grades:
White shirt, royal blue pants/skirt, red vest. The photo in the upper left corner shows the attire of 1990.

3rd, 4th, 5th grades:
White shirt, royal blue pants/skirt, royal blue vest.
There is a long tradition in Camp Fire of youth making their own vests, and some opt to use blue denim vests.

6th, 7th, 8th grades:
BUSINESS: white shirt, blue pants/skirt, Camp Fire tie or neck scarf.
CEREMONIAL: Beginning in 6th grade, Camp Fire youth are eligible to make and wear ceremonial gowns/tunics that are worn at ceremonials. Traditionally, gowns/tunics have been made of cloth resembling deer skin. However, each Camp Fire youth is encouraged to design a garment meaningful for the individual child, and a child may look to any culture for inspiration. A gown/tunic is decorated with honor beads, earned emblems, and other personal items the youth chooses. Usually the youth's
symbolgram is used on the gown/tunic. The symbolgram is a symbol created by the youth to represent him/herself.

High school and beyond:
BUSINESS: White shirt, navy blue pants/skirt, blue blazer, red tie/scarf.
CEREMONIAL: Ceremonial gown/tunic.


Camp Fire's mascot is the blue bird because, like Camp Fire kids, blue birds are red, white, & blue, love to sing, and enjoy the wide open spaces.

From 1913 until 1988, Camp Fire had a program level for the younger children called "Blue Birds." With reorganization, the program level was renamed, and the blue bird was kept as the mascot for all of Camp Fire.

The stylized blue bird symbol used for many years by Camp Fire is shown in the picture of the beads in the left panel. These days, the looks of the Camp Fire Blue Bird have been updated.


Hand sign
With the hands in front and together, left palm up, right fingers touch together in the left palm. Right hand circles three times upward like smoke from a campfire. Right hand ends extended upward with fingers together and pointed up, like the tip of a flame.


Camp Fire Wish
(formerly called The Blue Bird Wish)

To have fun.
To learn to make all sorts of things.
To remember to finish what I begin.
To want to keep my temper in.
And to learn of nature and living outdoors.
To have adventures with everyone,
To go to places and learn how it's done.
To make friends.


The Desires
Many Camp Fire youth complete special year-long projects in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Below are the "desires" that are part of those projects:
Trail Seeker's Desire:

I desire to seek the way
that shall become a delight to my heart,
for it will bring me
to the fire of human kindness
lighted by those
who have gone before me
on the Camp Fire trail.

Wood Gatherer's Desire:

As firewood is brought from the forest for the warmth and clear light to blaze skyward,
I will reach with my Camp Fire friends for the heights that I know are within us.
I will strive to grow strong like the pine tree;
to be pure in my deepest desire,
to be true to the truth that is in me, and
to follow the law of Camp Fire.

Fire Maker's Desire:

As fuel is brought to the fire,
so I promise to bring my strength,
my sensitivity, my heart's desire,
my joy, and my sorrow
to the fire of human kindness;
for I will tend,
as my forebearers have tended
since time began,
that fire that is called
the love of one for another,
the love of all towards God.

Discovery Desire:
Discovery youth (6th, 7th, 8th grades) learn a modernized version of what formerly was known as the "Torchbearer's Desire."
The modern version is,

I shall strive to discover myself
at the fire of adventure and friendship,
remembering that what I possess
grows in value as I share it with others.

Older Camp Fire alumnae would remember these words:

That light which has been given to me,
I desire to pass undimmed to others.

Horizon Desire:
There is also the Horizon Desire for high-school age youth in the Horizon program:

As horizons are ever always distant,
I shall not stand still
and look into their purple shadows.
Instead, I shall seek
the higher purposes and new adventures
that lie beyond.
I shall reach ever outward
to the horizon
that is always just beyond my grasp.


Outdoor education progression
Camp Fire has a five-level progression for outdoor education that is appropriate to begin at third grade. The levels are Fire Tender, High Adventure, Trail Maker, Gypsy, and Voyager.

Children begin by working on Fire Tender requirements; they plan a mile-long hike with picnic, learn how to tie a square knot, learn basic pocket knife safety, and cook over a camp fire. Requirements for the most advanced level (Voyager) are to plan and carry out an outdoor traveling trip that includes at least three nights with no motorized transportation: backpacking, cross-country skiing, sailing, horseback riding, climbing, biking, etc.

Camp Fire's outdoor education book is The Outdoor Book: A Guidebook for Sharing the Experiences of Our World, copyright 1980 by Camp Fire, reprints since. It is available for purchase through CF's national office.


Annual projects
Valentines for Vets
Camp Fire encourages everyone to do something for hospitalized veterans on Valentine's Day: Bake cookies. Make paper valentines. Make bookmarks. Do something to send a bit of love to hospitalized veterans.

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
Camp Fire encourages all adults to write letters to children on the third Thursday of each March to let children know how special and loved they are. The audience is every child: son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew, neighbor, children in the community in shelters and hospitals.

The goal is to honor children, not only those involved in Camp Fire. Each child, one at a time, needs to hear some decent, trustworthy adult find a way to say to him or her, "You are special. You are so special that you are INCREDIBLE!"


The organizational history and the story of the origins of Camp Fire are complex. The story as presented in the book Wo-He-Lo: The Camp Fire History, c. 1980 by Camp Fire, Inc., is accurate as far as it goes. However, the story is more complex than the official version, and more people deserve credit than only Dr. Luther Gulick and his wife Charlotte Vetter Gulick, the "official founders" of Camp Fire Girls.

Also, while Camp Fire does not carry the family name "Scouts," Camp Fire definitely is part of the scouting family in the USA. For a look at the historical origins of Camp Fire, check another page at this web site:
Historical Origins of Camp Fire.


Diversity & inclusion
The following statements are answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" at Camp Fire's official web site:

  • We are committed to coeducation, providing opportunities for boys, girls, and families to develop together.
  • We are inclusive, welcoming children, youth, and adults regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or other aspect of diversity.
  • People of different ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds, as well as different disabilities and sexual orientations, are all welcome. In Camp Fire, you’ll learn about the real world, and how to interact with the many types of people in it.

For the official Camp Fire site, click below:

Once upon a time, I was a Blue Bird who grew into an Horizon girl. I was a Camp Fire Girls youth member for ten years; I was a Camp Fire leader for another ten years during my "mommy period."

When I was a Camp Fire Girl, we were taught to keep Memory Books. We decorated the covers with meaningful symbols and filled the books with momentos of our Camp Fire fun and with proof of our accomplishments. Once a year, to pass rank, all of the Camp Fire Girls from the town gathered to have our Memory Books reviewed by Camp Fire leaders from the entire council. It was a shakedown method of keeping all Camp Fire clubs at an expected Council-wide level of performance: "What have you done? What has your club done? Are your awards legitimate? Are you worthy of passing rank?"

It is in the style of those old "Memory Books," that this site is presented:
Ma-ha-we's Memory Book

site by AliceBeard.com

This site is maintained by an old Camp Fire Girl who,
in her mid-50s, became a member of the D.C. Bar.