Camp Fire Girls – a four-cent stamp issued in 1960 for the 50th anniversary of that organization

Camp Fire Girls began in 1910, slightly prior to the Girl Scouts. The two had similar goals and there was early discussion of a merger, but ultimately they went their separate ways.  Unlike the Girl Scouts under Juliet Gordon Low, Camp Fire Girls was headed by men for several decades. 

The first was Dr. Luther Gulick, the father of four daughters and an employee of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) in Massachusetts.  He intended clubs for girls younger than those served by the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) and with more emphasis on outdoors activity.  Its ranks were Wood Gatherer, Fire Maker, and Torch Carrier, with Blue Birds as analogous to the Girl Scouts’ Brownies.

The early Camp Fire Girls had a fairly strong association with Christianity, and among the vows that girls took during its World War I infancy was a promise to pray daily that “right might triumph.”  Dr. Gulick died in 1918, the year the war ended, and his successor was his assistant and another man:  Lester Scott would lead the organization until 1943, the midst of World War II.

Martha Allen then became director and tried to implement a greater diversity of membership.  When the Camp Fire Girls celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1960, she led an environmental program in which the organization planted more than two million trees, created dozens of nature trails, and built tens of thousands of bird feeders.  The slogan was “She Cares – Do You?”

In response to the changing nature of girlhood during the 1960s, Allen revamped the organizational structure to be less merit-based and, after nearly a quarter-century as leader, she retired in 1966.  Membership continued to decline, however, and boys were admitted in 1975.  Now a fully co-ed organization, it is Camp Fire, USA.






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