Monday, May 21, 2012


One of the constants throughout my childhood was my involvement with Camp Fire Girls (now known as Camp Fire USA).  My mom was my leader and my dad was on the local board.  My childhood memories abound with weekly Camp Fire Girls meetings and activities, summers at Namanu, camp clean-up weekends, service activities and Council Fires.  A couple of times, a scheduled Camp Fire activity conflicted with something else I wanted to do and I wanted to quit, but my mom wouldn’t let me.  I remember her telling me that someday I’d be glad that she made me stay the course.  And, of course, she was right.  I participated in Camp Fire from 2nd grade, which was the youngest available level at the time, through high school.  At the end of my senior year, I was awarded the WoHeLo Medallion, Camp Fire’s equivalent to the Eagle Scout Badge.

WoHeLo stands for work, health and love and, in order to earn the Medallion, a girl must complete a series of activities in the areas of leadership, teaching, service and advocacy.  I don’t remember what all of my activities were – the one that stands out in my mind was being a group leader for two years for a group of 4th and 5th graders who wouldn’t have been able to have a group without my leadership (no parents were able to volunteer).  My mom was the official leader and supervised all of our events, but the actual leadership, planning and execution fell to me.  I know there were other projects and somewhere I have a notebook detailing my WoHeLo Medallion projects, but I haven’t come across it in decades.  What I do know is that my involvement with Camp Fire throughout my childhood and, especially, my WoHeLo Medallion activities during my teen years, left an indelible mark on my character and the adult I would become.

This past Saturday I attended the Grand Council Fire in Eugene where my cousin’s daughter received the WoHeLo Medallion.  The last Council Fire I attended was 36 years ago when I received my WoHeLo Medallion.  As I sat in the audience Saturday, the memories flooded back.  A Council Fire is a formatted ceremony beginning with the WoHeLo call and continuing on through the processional, the Pledge of Allegiance, awards, songs and ending with the recessional.  As soon as the first WoHeLo was called I was transported back four decades.  Songs I haven’t thought about in 36 years came tumbling back into my brain and out my mouth.  Verses read by the participants – the same verses I used to read – were back on the tip of my tongue.  It was a magical experience.  My cousin’s daughter was named for my mom and my aunt (her grandma).  I know my mom would be so pleased that her namesake earned this award and she’d also be happy to know that, once again, I had to admit she was right.  Staying the course was the right thing to do.

At the Council Fire, we sang the Law of Camp Fire.  I realized that this Law which was so much a part of my childhood and which includes: 

·    seek beauty
·    give service
·    pursue knowledge
·    be trustworthy
·    hold on to health
·    glorify work
·    be happy

…pretty much sums up my adult outlook on life –



Janine said...

:) I was a camp fire girl and my mom was a leader for awhile. Only did it a year or two though, not sure why. I think they had trouble keeping everything organized in my area.

Mu me o ke wa said...

Hi Debbie, I am 56 and all of a sudden, my memories are flooding back also. I was a Camp Fire girl from 4 th grade until the end of high school and then was a student member of the Board of Directors. I recently started guitar lessons and I want to play songs from my camp days. There was this stick game that we used to play with a chant like " ma ku am ok ta o am ku e tana". Does that ring a bell for you? I still have my beaded gown and actually wore it for some earlier Halloweens. My Mom was a single Mom and we had very little money. Camp Fire Girls was a salvation for me growing up. I learned so much and had some of my most wonderful childhood memories from it. Thanks for your blog!