Camp Fire was founded in 1910 by Luther & Charlotte Gulick, as the first non-sectarian organization for girls in the United States.  In 1975, the organization became co-ed, expanding to include boys.  Camp Fire is headquartered in Kansas City, MO.

Historical Highlights


First meetings of Camp Fire Girls are held in Vermont.  Dr. Gulick chooses the name Camp Fire because campfires were the origin of the first communities and domestic life.  Once people learned to make and control fire, they could develop and nurture a sense of community.


Camp Fire Girls of America is incorporated in Washington, D.C. as a national agency.


The “Blue Bird” program is officially introduced for younger girls and offers exploration of ideas and creative play built around family and community life.   (In 1989, the “Blue Bird” level becomes the “Starflight” level for both boys and girls.)


The first local Camp Fire council is formed in Kansas City, MO.  Beginning in 1977, Kansas City will be the national headquarters for Camp Fire.


The national headquarters adopts a statement calling for greater inclusiveness of all groups within all segments of the membership.  (Today, Camp Fire prides itself in the level of diversity of its members and its programs. )


Camp Fire celebrates its 50th anniversary with the “She Cares . . . Do You?” program.  During the project, Camp Fire plants more than 2 million trees, builds 13,000 bird houses, and completes several other conservation-oriented tasks.  In honor of the anniversary, the US Postal Service issues a commemorative stamp and a major conservation effort is launched.


A new program level, “Junior Hi,” in which 12- and 13-year-old girls explore new interests as a group and as individuals, is created.  (The program name will later change to “Discovery” with the inclusion of boys.)

The Wohelo Medallion becomes Camp Fire’s highest achievement and honor.  The Medallion is named for Camp Fire’s watchword, “Wohelo,” which stands for “work,” “health” and “love.”  Recipients spend at least 2 years completing at least 200 service hours on projects that foster leadership, teaching, service, and advocacy.  (In 1996, the Wohelo Medallion is renamed the Wohelo Award.  Each year, approximately 100 Camp Fire youth throughout the nation receive the prestigious award.)

1964 – 1967

Through the Metropolitan Critical Areas (MCA) Project, Camp Fire launches a national effort to reach low-income, predominantly urban girls.  The purpose of the MCA project is to meet the special needs and promote the healthy social development of these youth and to locate, train, and retain neighborhood volunteers.


Camp Fire expands its horizons as it becomes a co-ed organization, encouraging boys to participate in all Camp Fire activities.  (Today, boys and girls  are represented equally in Camp Fire with approximately a 50/50 split.)


The introduction of the new, co-ed “Adventure” program for 3rd – 5thgraders completes the task of program revisions focusing on the inclusion of boys.  In this club level, children experience activities focused on the outdoors, creativity, family, and community.


Camp Fire introduces “Teens in Action” as a one-time social issue campaign to energize the older youth program.  Today, Teens in Action, Camp Fire’s service-learning program for teens, serves over 60,000 teens.


The DeWitt Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fund awards Camp Fire a $2.5 million grant.  This enables Camp Fire to establish the Champions For Children program, which strengthens the capacity of councils through professional development opportunities for staff.


Camp Fire celebrates its 85th anniversary.  Building on the tradition of the campfire symbol, the 85th birthday theme is “A Tradition of Lighting the Way.”


The DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund awards Camp Fire a $1 million grant that helps bring youth development programs to thousands of young people who live in low-income communities.  Through the Extending Our Reach initiative, councils are trained and receive technical support for initiating partnerships within these communities.


Camp Fire and the nation celebrate the first-ever Absolutely Incredible Kid Day® — a call to action for all adults to write letters of love and encouragement to youth on the third Thursday in March each year.


The Best Buy Children’s Foundation awards Camp Fire a generous grant to fund teen initiatives.  With Best Buy’s continued support, teens across America have been empowered to create and advocate for change in their own communities by participating in national youth forums, web-based town hall meetings, and the national teen website.


At the national convention in Seattle, the new mission of Camp Fire is announced, “Camp Fire builds caring, confident youth and future leaders.”

Learn and Serve America and the Corporation for National Service award Camp Fire a grant to expand its Teens in Action program to reach over 105,000 teens by 2003.  To date, 38 Camp Fire councils have received over $300,000 through this grant.


Camp Fire celebrates its 90th anniversary as one of America’s leading youth development agencies and conducts a nationwide search to find the oldest living Camp Fire member.

Camp Fire introduces the “Community Family Club” small-group model, designed to provide parents and other caring community adults the opportunity to interact positively with children and teens.


With over 600 million people being reached by the special event since its inception, Camp Fire honors the 5th annual Absolutely Incredible Kid Day® with professional football superstar Jerry Rice serving as the event’s national spokesperson.

Camp Fire launches a new brand and introduces a national theme line, “Today’s kids. Tomorrow’s leaders.”  This theme line helps succinctly define Camp Fire for America’s families.

At the national convention in Fort Worth, Camp Fire debuts newly revised curricula for small-group programs serving grades K-5.  The 52-week deep curricula are designed to build social skills and academic competencies.


Camp Fire conducts a system-wide launch of the Community Family Club (CFC) program, complete with the new Community Family Club Operations Manual offering steps to launching CFC, supporting materials and six meeting plans.


To further its commitment to inclusiveness, Camp Fire begins translating its new curricula for small-group programs into Spanish.  The Spanish-language, 52-week deep curricula for grades K-5 are designed to build social skills and academic competencies within Spanish-speaking communities.

Camp Fire partners with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to recognize outstanding Community Family Club programs that strengthen families, helping build better futures for disadvantaged children and families in the United States.  The Families Count: Family Strengthening Awards are designed to advance the principles of strengthening families and improve the lives of families while supporting Camp Fire’s mission and commitment to offer quality coeducational programs for the entire family in settings that address community needs.

At the national convention in Chicago, Camp Fire begins introducing revised small-group middle school curricula and debuts the first national curriculum for Teens in Action.  The Discovery curricula, for 6-8th grade, emphasize youth participation in decision-making and leadership, encouraging youth to lead program activities; the Teens in Action curriculum, for 9-12th grade, helps teens design and complete service projects and hone leadership skills.


The Wohelo Award is expanded to Teens in Action members, allowing all high-school aged Camp Fire members to work toward Camp Fire’s highest achievement and honor.

Camp Fire Online Store opens for business, allowing members and the public to purchase Camp Fire merchandise while supporting youth.  A portion of proceeds from the Online Store help councils deliver programs to youth in the communities they serve.  This online venture also allows the nationwide, year-round sale of Camp Fire candy.


Camp Fire celebrates its 95th anniversary and begins planning its centennial anniversary celebration in 2010.

To excite and educate children before they enter kindergarten, Camp Fire USA introduces the “Little Stars” small-group program.  Designed for ages three to five, Little Stars helps build confidence in children as they form lasting relationships, gain a sense of belonging and develop a feeling of emotional commitment by adults.


Camp Fire celebrates its 100th anniversary.  Councils across the country hosted various centennial events, including a “centennial campfire” where councils lit ceremonial campfires at the same time across the country.


After 18-months of nation-wide research and brand revitalization development, Camp Fire removes the USA from its name, becoming “Camp Fire.”  The brand revitalization launches the shift from a mission statement to “Our Promise” as well as a new logo with an aerial view of a campfire, that looks like a spark.  This new “spark mark” further represents our inclusivity, symbolizing that we all come to Camp Fire with different backgrounds and skills.