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.
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.
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.