Campfire U.S.A. Birthday Week takes place during the second week of March every year and this year it will run from March 13 to 19. Camp Fire has created a visionary and distinctly American program, where youth have a voice, families share meaningful time, and service to others is the measure of every activity. You might remember Camp Fire as Camp Fire Girls or Camp Fire U.S.A.; both names were used during different eras. So what’s kept them going? Their commitment to diversity and inclusion from the beginning, their incorporation of youth voice in everything they do, and their use of cutting-edge research to best meet the needs of today’s families.
History of Campfire USA Birthday Week
Camp Fire U.S.A., the largest co-ed, nonsectarian youth development organization in the U.S., was founded in 1910 by Luther Gulick, M.D., and his wife Charlotte Vetter Gulick as Camp Fire Girls. As youth leaders, the Gulicks brought to life the idea that each girl’s growth is in her own hands and that she is a person of important worth. Building on these ideals, Camp Fire created a new model for nonprofit youth development — girls as the center of their own learning and development experience.
From its beginnings in Montana, Camp Fire grew rapidly throughout the country during its first decade. In 1974, Camp Fire became an organization where boys and girls could be together to learn skills and values that would help them become healthy adults through programs focused on self-development and teamwork. Over time, the organization has evolved to reach out to all youth, regardless of socioeconomic status or cultural background. The needs of today’s children often require programs that involve the entire family unit rather than just focusing on individual children. They believe that every child deserves an opportunity to succeed in life, and they help them find their special spark — something they’re passionate about — to create their own bright futures.
This week, we are celebrating 112 years of Camp Fire U.S.A. The organization has come a long way from its humble beginnings. They now have programs for both boys and girls, including Camp Fire’s iconic Blue Birds program for kindergarteners, Adventure Clubs for preteens and teens, and the Young Adult Network for people ages 18-35 who want to make a difference in their communities.
Campfire USA Birthday Week timeline
Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick and his wife, Charlotte Vetter Gulick, establish Camp Fire Girls.
Camp Fire formalizes its longstanding focus on teen service and leadership by launching ‘Teens in Action,’ a community service program for Camp Fire members.
Camp Fire celebrates its 100th anniversary with members across the country lighting a campfire simultaneously.
In 2012, Camp Fire becomes the first national youth organization to implement the Thriving framework, based on Social Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) pillars.
Campfire USA Birthday Week FAQs
What do Camp Fire beads mean?
These are honor beads earned for every goal accomplished.
Is Camp Fire a religious organization?
Yes, it is. But it refers to itself as ‘nonsectarian’ which means it’s not restricted to a specific religious group.
What is a bluebird girl?
It is the title given to a girl who has gone through the ‘Bluebird program’ which was introduced in 1913 to cater to younger girls.
Campfire USA Birthday Week Activities
Clean up local parks
Invite members of your community to get involved in cleaning up local parks or green spaces. Recruit volunteers from local businesses, schools, churches, and other organizations to help.
Plan a community picnic
Plan a community picnic at the end of your clean-up day. Use this opportunity to honor all those who helped make Camp Fire U.S.A. what it is today.
Gather the alumni
Gather together all the alumni of Camp Fire U.S.A. that you can find. Ask them to share their memories with you. Collect their photos and stories so you can create scrapbooks that will help commemorate this special day.
5 Interesting Facts About Camp Fire U.S.A.
Inspired by Japanese boy scouts
The ‘Gulicks,’ a Japanese boy scout group, inspired Camp Fire Girls to empower girls through outdoor learning experiences.
First multi-racial organization
Camp Fire Girls was the first multi-racial organization for girls in the U.S.
The founder was a physician
Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick was a physician who advocated for public health and hygiene to improve lives and communities.
First professional staff
Their first professional staff member was Charlotte Vetter Gulick, wife of founder Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick.
Between 1910 and 1915, more than 100,000 girls joined Camp Fire Girls, making it one of the fastest-growing organizations.
Why We Love Campfire USA Birthday Week
It encourages parents and teachers
Every opportunity is a learning opportunity. This week encourages parents and teachers to teach children about the importance of giving back and helping others.
It ensures we keep the traditions going
People will continue the tradition that Camp Fire U.S.A. has established. By commemorating this day, we can assure that future generations will continue the custom.
It’s a time to appreciate
Being around for 112 years is not a small achievement. On this birthday week, we can appreciate the path they have taken to get to where they are today.
Campfire USA Birthday Week dates