Camp Fire is a National Organization!

Camp Fire provides all-inclusive, coeducational programs in hundreds of communities across the United States.

  • -Camp Fire Northwest Ohio is located in Findlay, OH and serves Hancock, Wood, and Seneca Counties. Camp Fire is one of the nation’s leading not-for-profit youth development organizations. Camp Fire, with national headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., provides all-inclusive, coeducational programs in hundreds of communities across the United States. Founded in 1910, Camp Fire’s outcome-based programs include youth leadership, self-reliance, after school groups, camping and environmental education and child care.
  • -Serving youth from ages 3-18, Camp Fire helps boys and girls learn – and play – side by side in comfortable, informal settings. Our coed programs allow parents to consolidate schedules for both their daughters and sons.
  • -As the first nonsectarian, interracial organization for girls in the United States, Camp Fire takes pride in its long-standing commitment to providing fun programs and services to all children and families in America. We are inclusive, open to every person in the communities we serve, welcoming children, youth and adults regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation or other aspect of diversity. Camp Fire’s programs are designed and implemented to reduce sex-role, racial and cultural stereotypes and to foster positive intercultural relationships.
  • -Camp Glen, located in Tiffin, OH, is Camp Fire Northwest Ohio’s Summer Camp and Retreat Center. We offer four weeks of traditional resident camp during the summer and retreats/team building opportunities from March through November.

Camp Fire's Findlay Origin

Camp Fire Northwest Ohio Had Origin in Findlay in the 1920’s

The origin of Camp Fire in Findlay goes back to 1923.  While the council did not become incorporated until 1929, the first groups to become organized as Camp Fire Girls occurred in the fall of 1923.  The Camp Fire movement grew in the community in the next few years until interest reached a point where it was felt the time had come to effect a citywide organization.

A successful fund campaign was conducted in the fall of 1929.  Soon afterward the first full time executive was hired.  Steps were taken later in the fall to form a council affiliated with the national movement.  On November 4, 1929, the council was organized with Mrs. I.F. Matteson as the first president.

In 1930 the inauguration of what was termed the three-way fund campaign involving Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts and the Y.M.C.A. was begun.   Up until now, the three had each conducted their own fund drive and mutually agreed to combine the campaign.  The campaign was successful until the United Way Community Fund was formed in 1955.

The need for a community house of some kind became apparent and proved successful when a former one-room-school house building on the Wyer farm was purchased in 1936.  In June 1938 the headquarters was moved to a building on East Sandusky Street.

The world war of 1941-45 saw Camp Fire Girls active in many phases of war work on the home front.  They participated in a number of scrap drives, they sold war stamps, helped detassel corn and took part in a number of wartime activities.  They raised over $500 towards a field ambulance.

In 1948, the search for a suitable camp for Findlay Camp Fire Girls was inaugurated and in 1958 the site of Camp Glen was purchased in Seneca County.  During the ensuing months, the site was transformed into a most attractive camp.  The first camping season at Camp Glen took place in 1959.

In 1955 the original charter was altered to include all of Hancock County.  It had previously covered only the Findlay area.  Also in 1955, a major change took place in the financial picture with the organization of the United Community Fund of Hancock County.  Camp Fire became an original member of the new agency.  In 1959 the name of the council was changed to “NO-WE-OH” the name standing for Northwestern Ohio. Camp Fire continued to increase its membership and in 1960 stood at 2,069 club members.  This was a record peak in members enrolled.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s little changed with Camp Fire.

The 1980’s and 1990’s saw many changes.  In 1985, thanks to the “Friends of Camp Fire” a new building was constructed to house the offices of Camp Fire.  This building is still occupied today.

In the 1990’s programming for Camp Fire began to change with the additional boys and kindergartners into the organization.  The first boy became a member of the NO-WE-OH Council in the fall of 1991.  In 1992 the Self-Reliance Program was begun with a grant from the L. Dale Dorney Fund.

In 1996 the council grew in geographic size with the merger between the NO-WE-OH Council and the SHA-YO-KI Council.  The council’s name was changed to Camp Fire USA, Northwest Ohio Council, Inc. and encompasses Hancock, Seneca and Wood Counties.

In 1997 the council began its’ Extending Our Reach program with a three-year grant from DeWitt Wallace-Readers Digest Fund.  This innovative program delivered non-school hour programming for low-income disadvantaged youth in the Fostoria area.  In 1999 the minimum age of Camp Fire members was lowered to include pre-school aged children.

In 2012, the council became one of 20 nationwide to pilot the research-based Thrive Methodology which implements 4 core elements in working with youth. In order to help youth reach their full potential, Camp Fire helps youth Thrive by 1) helping youth identify and foster their individual “sparks;” 2) teaching “growth mindset,” which supports continual learning and improvement of abilities; 3) facilitating realistic self-reflection skills and teaching how to apply strengths to challenges and opportunities and to avoid risks; and 4) building goal management skills, which allows youth to select goals and to adjust strategies, planning, and effort, when faced with challenges.

In order for Camp Fire to realize its mission and deliver on its commitment to being the “best choice” for children, youth, and their families, we must continuously evolve and improve as we have done since 1923.

Camp Fire's National History

Camp Fire’s National History

In Brief

Camp Fire was founded in 1910 as Camp Fire Girls.  Charlotte and Luther Halsey Gulick are recognized as Camp Fire’s founders.  The Gulicks were authorities on child health, recreation and education.  They founded Camp Fire to provide teenage girls a chance to enjoy outdoor activities and to find pleasure in new challenges.

When founded, Camp Fire Girls was the first American interracial, nonsectarian organization.  It was opened to all girls.  But even in the early years, the Gulicks emphasized the importance of boys and girls being together. Camp Fire Girls encouraged fathers and brothers, as well as mothers and sisters, to participate in the program.

Young boys joined Camp Fire as club members in the mid-1970’s.  Programs were revised to give girls and boys’ opportunities to learn, play, and grow equally.  Camp Fire’s coeducational, nonsexist philosophy is one of the things that make its programs unique today.

In the late 1970’s, the name of the organization was officially changed to Camp Fire USA so the public would know that all kids could be a part of this organization.

Through the years, many names have been used within Camp Fire to identify different age groups.  Camp Fire’s youngest members in elementary school were known as Blue Birds for many years.  In 1983, a club program for kindergartners was introduced.  It was called Sparks.  In 1989, these two age groups were combined.  A new program level for kindergarten, first and second graders were created.  It was called Starflight.  The tradition of Blue Birds has been preserved as a Camp Fire mascot for all ages to enjoy.

In 1995, Camp Fire USA approached the DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund with a proposal designed to deliver quality, innovative and responsive programs for children and youth in low-income, disadvantaged communities.  The initiative was titled “Extending Our Reach”.

In 1999, Camp Fire USA adopted a new mission statement that reflects the repositioning of the organization.  Camp Fire USA builds caring, confident youth and future leaders.  Camp Fire USA also adopted revised core values and a new program philosophy, and identified 14 developmental assets that Camp Fire programs foster in youth.

Camp Fire operates in the context of rapid social change.  To realize its mission and deliver on its commitment of being the “best choice” for children, youth and families, it must continuously evolve and improve.  The organization has, in that spirit, begun a comprehensive systems transformation process.

Camp Fire is in the process of developing a national marketing strategy to increase public awareness of the organization and support local recruitment and service delivery efforts.

This process allows us to create the structures necessary for sustaining and nurturing a youth development approach that “builds caring, confident youth and future leaders” and prepares us to meet the needs of greater numbers of children, youth and families in the 21st century.

In 2012, Camp Fire USA became Camp Fire with the launch of a new marketing strategy. A new logo was introduced in the fall of 2012 which consists of a modern looking fire, and a new promise was delivered: Young people want to shape the world. Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are.  In Camp Fire, it begins now. Light the fire within.