March 17 - Camp Fire Girls and Boys Founder Day

Posted on March 17, 2017

When I was a kid, there was a big question that loomed over my friends - did we want to be Brownies or Bluebirds? 

Brownies are girls grades 2 and 3 (around 7 and 8 years old) who are part of the Girl Scouting organization. Bluebirds are girls the same grade/age who are part of the Camp Fire Girls and Boys organization.

I don't know anyone who belonged to both - we all chose one, the other, or none (I didn't get into that stuff until I joined Junior Girl Scouts, so I was one of the few "nones" in Grades 2 and 3).

Nowadays, there are a lot more Girl Scouts, it seems, than there are Camp Fire Girls. Of course, Boy Scouting is also very well known, well-funded, and popular. You may have noticed from the title that what used to be "Camp Fire Girls" is now "Camp Fire Girls and Boys."

Back when CFG was founded, on this date in 1912, Girl Scouts didn't exist, and the folks who started Camp Fire Girls did so in an attempt to organize a club for girls "like the Boy Scouts." Actually, things being even more sexist back then than they are now, by a long shot, the organization doesn't sound that much like Boy Scouts - get a load of this newspaper clipping: 

Housework? Merit marks for sleeping with windows open? I bet the Boy Scouts were doing more outdoorsy, challenging, and fun things than that!

Still, I am grateful that the CFG founders started an organization for girls! And of course, as society changed, and as women's and girls' roles changed, so did Camp Fire Girls. As the organization's name suggests, tons of girls got their first taste of camping with CFG.

Here's another troubling aspect of the CFG of the past: there was a lot of cultural appropriation, taking what was considered cool and/or picturesque of Native American culture without acknowledgement of the genocide, the land-grabs, the discrimination and stereotyping and marginalization and even outlawing of Native Americans and their languages and cultures. 

Nowadays, youths in Camp Fire can choose any style of ceremonial clothing and are encouraged to represent and honor their own heritage.

Also on this date:

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