Flashback Photos

Flashback Photo – The Seeds of Camp Fire Girls Were First Planted in Vermont and Maine

Camp Fire Girls founder Charlotte Gulick

Camp Fire Girls founder Charlotte Gulick

In 1910, with Boy Scouts barely a year old, Scouts in Thetford, Vermont were preparing for a part in the town’s 150th anniversary pageant when some of the girls raised a question: Why was their no scouting organization for them? And from that simple question, Camp Fire Girls was born.

The town’s school principal took the problem of no scouting organization for girls to Luther and Charlotte Gulick. The Gulicks, both born in 1865, were firm believers in physical fitness and the importance of play for children.

By 1910, Luther already had a long career as an educator and physical education advocate with the YMCA and on the International Olympic Committee. He helped inspire James Naismith to invent the game of basketball.

Together they were planning to establish two summer camps — one for boys and the other for girls — near Raymond, Maine.

Camp Fire Girls building a fire

Camp Fire Girls building a fire

The Gulicks took a holistic approach to education, believing that people needed to tend to their bodies, minds and spirits to be happy and successful.

Their camps would focus on outdoor training and education, as well as physical exercise. Campers would wear clothing inspired by American Indians and learn basic survival skills.

It was at the camp where Camp Fire Girls took shape. Luther Gulick served as the organization’s first president, when it officially incorporated in 1912, until he died in 1918.

Camp fire girls hiking in Maine

Camp Fire Girls hiking in Maine

The Camp Fire Girls organization, however, had already exploded in popularity by the time he died. Boy Scouting, Girl Scouting and Camp Fire were all expanding rapidly.

Charlotte Gulick, who would live until 1938, continued her work with Camp Fire Girls after Luther’s death, and the scouting movement in America would never slow down.



  1. Michelle Moon

    October 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

    The photo is worth some discussion. Both boy and girl scouts at the time promoted a fetishized vision of Native Americans and mimicked their (poor) understandings of Native American culture in the outdoor skills they taught and in their organizational structure, calling it “Indian Lore.” Some of the residue still survives in Boy Scouts’ terminology.

  2. Deb Putnam

    October 22, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Scouting was an enriching experience for many.

  3. Michelle Moon

    October 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    It was enriching for me, for sure. But I’m really glad we have mostly left the days of confused Native appropriation behind.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

To Top