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Sebago-Wohelo camp fire girls online

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A. F. Morrison


From an original portrait photograph by Gertrude Kasebier.


From an original portrait photograph by Alice Boughton.

Mrs. Gulick in Camp Fire Ceremonial Gown

The Camp Fire Girl

Camp Fire Girls







//S33 53

Copyright, 1915, by
Mrs. Luther Halsey Gulick

Copyright, 1915, by
Good Health Publishing Co.

• • •

• • • • • »



This Book Is Dedicated to all
mothers and daughters, in the
hope that it will make the way
simpler for them to have the best
of times together, and so bind
them more closely in the common
interests of the home.



Primitive Woman


Introduction 13

The Call 27

The Answer 29

Building the Fires 37

The Freedom of Camp 46

The Threefold Flame 58

Camping in the Mist 73

Mastering the water, and Primitive

Cooking 92

Canning and Camping 106

Every Tent a Song 115

Camping in the Rain 132

The Blazed Trail 149

In Case of Accident 161

Douglas Hill 180

Marketing Day 195

Mermaids on Parade 210

"Fire's Gwine Out" 228

Kee-wee's Good Night Song .... 247
Symbolic Names of Sebago-Wohelo

Camp Fire Girls 248

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T^ROM the time Dr. Gulick and I were
A married we agreed that in all things our
first consideration should be for our children —
where we should live, and how we should live,
were to be decided by what seemed best for

So we went camping the summer before the
first child was born, and we have camped every
summer for twenty-seven years, with but two
exceptions, when we were in Europe.

Vividly I remember those outdoor experi-
ences, but especially that first summer, lived
not only for ourselves, but for the child com-
ing to us. I found the best selection of kin-
dergarten songs to be had and learned every
song in the book. I used to sit by the water's
edge for hours, singing to the guitar and
dreaming of the life that was to be.

All our outdoor life has been associated
with music. For twenty years we camped on
the Thames River near New London, Con-



necticut. There we invited friends and rela-
tives to c&mj) nearby. One summer there
were seventy-five people about us in family
groups. And every looming we all met to
sing. Sometimes we gathered around a fire,
according to the weather; but unless it rained
we met out under the sky, and sang sometimes
for hours at a time. Our favorites were some
of the immortal old hvmns. If I could ask
those who made that group what they now re-
member of those summers with the greatest
pleasure, I believe that most would speak first
of the singing together.

Our children grew up with the freedom, the
vigor and the joy that this outdoor life gave.
We tried many experiments. Some summers
we had helpers to do the work of the camp
and care for the children. But we soon found
that when we camped alone and worked to-
gether, life had a richness and sweetness that
was lacking when the tasks were done for us
and opportunities for services were reduced
by paid helpers.

I have always believed that necessary
work could be made interesting if imagina-
tion, insight and affection are brought to it.
Even the humblest task you can imagine be-



comes a challenge. The system of honors now
used by the Camp Fire Girls was developed
largely from this idea as we worked it out with
our children in camp.

When we lived without helpers we lived,
too, more spontaneously. Seldom were all
three meals of the day eaten in the same place.
In such little ways we made life a daily ad-

When the impulse came we sailed away on
the Sound for a cruise — just ourselves and
the children — to share whatever trials of en-
durance or emergencies or dangers or pleas-
ures might come.

Our family learned the ways of boats and
of wind on the water. They learned prompt-
ly to co-ordinate thought with action, and
many lessons of judgment and resourceful-

The children also became acquainted with
the beaches and islands along both shores of
the Sound, places associated for them with
many events of treasured memory. Again and
again we revisited these favorite spots, which
they had learned to love because of some va-
riety of shells found, or the surf bathing af-
forded, or it might be for a dozen other things.



By the time the eldest of the five was
twenty and the youngest nine, outsiders be-
gan to discover in the older children the value
of their experience. They were in demand at
summer camps, for they knew how to do

So, to keep our family together, we had
to start a camp of our own — and face new
problems. We wanted to have our children
learn in camp various hand-crafts, that
called for expert paid instructors, and we
wanted, besides, to give them the human, so-
cial experience of entertaining a group of
their friends — both projects beyond our
means. So a plan for the sharing of expenses
was formulated, and in this way Sebago-
Wohelo was started. It is told in the story
how we got our name.

This name, "Wohelo," I gave to the Camp
Fire Girls with, at first, a sense of deep per-
sonal loss. It was the name of my camp, and
my daughters and camp girls felt that it was
personal, sacred. Before they could see the
reasonableness of it I had to explain what it
might mean to have thousands of girls, instead
of merely the few who gathered with us in the



summer time, trying for a balance of Work,
Health and Love in their lives.

The camp is now six years old, and no two
summers have been quite alike. One year I
had the wish that these girls who come to me
should know the joys of cooking, and learn
to meet with patience and good cheer its
hardships. I wanted them to think and dis-
cover by living in this primitive way, how this
part of woman's work can be simplified, and
the drudgery turned into a stimulating exer-
cise of talent.

I think that woman's work is inherently
far more fascinating than man's. It has, for
example, the greatest variety. To let it be-
come monotonous is just stupid. We must
think as deeply and profoundly about it as
men do about their work, to make it as inter-
esting and as successful. There is nothing in
man's world to be compared in its possibili-
ties for rich living with the creation and
maintenance of a beautiful home and the care
of a child from babyhood till it is ready to
face the world alone.

So that summer I taught my camp girls
the fun of cooking, and the drudgery con-
nected with it. Under a talented guide they



did all the cooking and dish-washing for a
month, and learned many important things.
It was soon discovered, for instance, that
there was more romance and pleasure in eat-
ing the evening meal informally, in true camp
fashion, than in sitting formally at a table.
So supper committees were appointed to seek
new and varied places to eat, and the equip-
ment was limited to a cup and spoon — which
each washed at the water's edge.

It soon fell to the committee to arrange
entertainment for the evening as well. This
was not obligatory, but was esteemed a privi-
lege, and the more enterprising often gave us
most delightful surprises. What a group of
bright girls banded together can think of and
execute in an impromptu way is astonishing.
Indeed, I can imagine an engaging and serv-
iceable book written on this phase of camp
life alone.

I was amused and pleased the next sum-
mer to be faced with a miniature rebellion
when we began the season with the former
custom of serving supper at table. They
loved the simpler way, as I did, and we re-
turned to it for good. But we could not have
learned this except by doing the work our-



selves, as we did that summer, and so learning
the joy of it.

It was much the same with the hand-crafts.
I felt that two hours of each morning in this
work was not too much for the well-being of
the girls, but at first I was not sure of the
willing response that I felt to be more im-
portant than the work itself. The work was
therefore not made obligatory, although the
two-hour period was provided. My fears
were unfounded. As the interest of making
things with their fingers caught them, it be-
came my problem to hold their enthusiasm in

In all things that we did I have required
that the girls should really want them before
they were granted. Only a wholehearted re-
sponse would make it worth while. If there
was less than that, either the thing was less
appealing, and therefore less essential, than
I had believed, or else it had been imperfectly

One day I heard a group discussing the
Nature walks. "Oh, dear," said one girl, "I
don't want to go."

Next morning I announced that the Na-
ture walks were discontinued, and explained



that unless the girls really wanted them there
was no place for them in our camp; that to
know one bird or one tree and love them meant
more than to know all the birds and trees of the
forest, and that what I wanted for them was
a love for life about them.

Of course there was a prompt protest from
the girls, who really did love the walks. But
when, after an interval, the frequent tramps
were resumed, they were not formally labelled
as Nature walks, but were just impromptu

So, too, with our water sports. The bath-
ing hour is not merely a jolly frolic. It is not
even merely a time for learning to swim well
enough to meet emergencies. It is always a
step in the direction of further achievement,
and the daily goal is held always in mind.

Has a girl mastered the breast stroke?
She eagerly sets about the task of learning
three more standard swimming strokes, so
that at the weekly Council Fire she may stand
before her sisters to receive the red honor bead
that is a token of her achievement. She is not
content till she has won another bead by fetch-
ing bottom from eight feet of water.



So she grows in fearlessness and bodily-
control through the carefully graded steps
that carry her to mastery in aquatics, always
stimulated to constructive effort by a desire
for progressive achievement. That is a very
different thing from the usual pleasant pad-
dling and splashing about called "a swim,"
and its results are not even comparable.

My own is a case in point, and since this
is so personal an introduction to the story of
Sebago-Wohelo, I may mention it somewhat

I learned to dive after I was thirty-five
years old. I am told that to master the co-
ordination of one's muscles in a new feat such
as this, is usually very difficult after one is
thirty. So my achievement of the simple
straight dive greatly elated me, and, with
new-found confidence, I set out to win new
accomplishments. Each year I kept my reso-
lution to learn some new muscular feat, and
two years ago I achieved the more difficult
back dive. It has meant a great deal to me —
more even than the reawakened sense of bod-
ily elasticity and control, and a new and joy-
ful physical fearlessness.



I am reminded often of Emerson's signi-
ficant lines:

"To vision profounder
Man's spirit must dive."

There is to me a spiritual reaction from
the exultant exercise of one's body in such
feats as these.

Learning to dive has helped me, too, in fel-
lowship with my camp girls. It has helped me
to don the ceremonial gown, and be one with
them around the Council Fire.

My experience has a moral, too; an obvi-
ous one, perhaps, but pertinent. It is this:

Only by effort can we learn, though in
making the effort we may learn a great deal
that we were not trying for. As long as we
keep trying, we keep growing, and so long
as we are growing, we are one with all the
youth of the world.

I believe deeply and earnestly that spirit-
ual health and development is a direct corol-
lary of bodily vigor and control; that the joy
that comes from the exercise of efficient mus-
cles has its counterpart in the soul; that to
exercise the one is to exercise the other.

Upon that rock has Wohelo been built,



and its use of symbols is, perhaps, more than
anything else, a working and ever-present
declaration of the spiritual values inherent in
all the humblest phases of our everyday life
in the world.

So in all the activities of camp we have
striven to make them, not only a symbol of
the big things in after life, but a miniature
epitome of that life, seen with loving vision
and attacked with courage and devotion. Be-
cause we believed that life was beautiful we
have tried to give a beautiful preparation for
it, to awaken unquenchably a sense of its in-
finite significance.





'I must go with the pull
That has hold of my heart'



rpHERE'S a great wild pull
A That's come into my heart,
Like the pull of the wind on the sea.
There's a far, far call,
Flute-sweet and small,
Like the song of new sap in the tree.

There's a restless joy,

And a glad, dull ache,

And a longing to understand

The meaning that lies

In butterflies,

And sunsets, and stars, and sand.

For the spring has bloomed

In a goldeny mist

Of willow buds, sap and tears,

And the fleecy sky

Gives promise shy

Of the "country that knows no fears."


m m m n b © ss^se^ in

And my heart feels tied

And calls out to be free,

For it longs for the woods and the earth,

And a fire's soft light

In the velvet night

When dreams dare bloom to birth.

I must go with the pull

That has hold of my heart ;

I must touch the warm earth and be free.

And I have no choice

But to follow the voice

Of the haunting joy-to-be.



T^OR five summers The Call of the Camp
has been answered by a group of eager
girls, who come each year to the shores of Lake
Sebago, and go home two months later with
a bit of the lake in the very hearts of them.

"Wohelo! Wohelo!
How we sail over Lake Sebago's waters blue!

Wohelo! Wohelo!
Our days with you are far too few!"

they sing in the long, happy days as they pad-
dle over the clearest of waters, singing softly,
and with mist-dimmed eyes, as the summer
draws to a close. But it is of more than the
lake that they are singing, though it is a spot
lovely enough to be crystallized into song for
itself alone. The trees, the birds, the moun-
tains, the morning mist, the sunset sky and the
soft twilight — all of these, and more, are in
the song!


Sebago is so little that you can love it,
and yet so large as to suggest dreams of long
mysterious journeys toward the mountains,
which rise bluer and bluer on the sunset side
— dreams that become real in the form of en-
chanting camping trips as the summer goes
by. It is safe for canoeing, and just over in
the cove where the birches grow, the beach is
shallow and soft enough for any child; while
near shore, where the great rocks plunge down
almost perpendicularly into the deep trans-
parent water, one may find all the joys of
swimming and diving that the bravest may
desire. And about it all is the cool, invigor-
ating breath of the northland, fanning energy
and vigor into every pulse of life.


As the girls have camped together sum-
mer after summer, under the inspiring leader-
ship of a mother whose mother-love was great
enough to reach beyond her own little circle
of daughters and make all of the girls of the
camp her own, they have thought out, lived
out and made real a new and beautiful dream,
more precious even than the lake and the
wholesome outdoor life which is its gift.


The camp had no name, no forms or tradi-
tions. But the love of meeting around the
open fire grew slowly into a poetic ceremony,
for which the girls donned a special garment,
fashioned simply, as those of the Indian
maidens who lived in the woods before
them. They studied the stories and art of the
Indians, and learned to love to express the
poetry of the life about them in the work of
their hands, with nature as their guide and
inspiration. They developed the spirit of real
campers, paddling their own canoes, carrying
their own packs, building their own fires and
cooking their own meals, if necessary, and
came to find a joy in this life that luxury and
idleness could never give. They learned also
to work and play in teams, to paddle together,
sing together, tent together, stand by one an-
other through rain and shine — and so the spirit
of loyal, devoted comradeship was born among


All of these things their leader had desired
with a great longing for her girls, and she
sought for a name that should express the
ideals for which the camp was striving.

Those who gathered about the camp fire
had chosen symbolic names, expressing in
beautiful form the desires of their individual
lives. Hiiteni, "Life, more Life," was the
leader's name, very true to her spirit of eager
reaching out for new fields of beauty and
worth. The girls chose names for themselves
in the same way.

But for long the camp had no name.
Names that seemed to express the thought in
the heart of the founder failed in beauty. At
last it came to Hiiteni that the things for
which she wished it all to stand in the hearts
of the girls were expressed in the words,
Work, Health and Love; and that, by com-
bining the first two letters of each of these,
she could make a new word, "Wohelo,"
lovely in sound and full of the meaning she
wished. The camp was named Wohelo.


So the life and ceremonial and watchwords
that are now known to girls all over the land
through the Camp Fire Girls of America
grew out of the life of this first Wohelo camp.


H m E2 B © S3SftSSS2 ED

"Along the road that leads the way
We follow as it will"

They were a gift from Hiiteni and her girls
to all girls, gladly given at the request of those
who were organizing a new society for girls.
There are now many camps called Wohelo,
and the one on the shores of the lake in Maine,


m ?k= §1 g © m

to distinguish itself from the rest, has come
to be known as Sebago-Wohelo. It is now a
Camp Fire center, for every girl who comes
becomes a member of the Sebago-Wohelo
Camp Fire, and the camp is ever following
into new realms the goal of its great desire,
working out new ways of doing the things that
girls all over the world are longing to do.

It is with a desire to share these ideals, and
whatever has been done toward their attain-
ment, that this story is written. How often,
when long vacation days bring joy and happi-
ness, do the words, "I wish that you were with
me!" find a place in letters written to dear ones
at home, springing from a sincere desire to
share with those beloved the gifts of heart
and spirit which the days bring.

This is a part of the message of the story
of Sebago-Wohelo camp — a real, personal
message to Camp Fire Girls everywhere, and
if all cannot come to the shores of Lake Se-
bago it may be that something of the life of
the camp can be shared with them. The glow-
ing, living coals from that Camp Fire have
been carried far, and new fires have been
lighted, and it may be that still others will
spring up to carry the Camp Fire spirit of


m m m n m © gg^saraas m

Work and Health and Love to the shores of
other lakes and bays and rivers, into deep for-
ests and open prairies, and so into the homes
of the girls who dwell there, that by its light
they may be led to find new beauty and joy
in simple, common-place things, new love in
service. To the girls in these other camps the
girls of Sebago-Wohelo are singing a cheer.
Can you see them, standing there together on
the great rock above the water?

"Oh, we cheer, cheer, cheer —

Sebago-Wohelo !
Oh, we cheer, cheer, cheer —

Sebago-Wohelo !
Oh, we cheer, cheer, cheer —

Sebago-Wohelo !

Oh, our comrades,

We're singing

To you!"





/^NE of the songs that Sebago-Wohelo
^-^ maidens love to sing begins:

"There is a spot 'way up in Maine
They call Wohelo-he;
It's full of girls both short and tall
And just like you and me — "

and if any girl doubts the truth of that she
should have been one of the crowd of girls,
with a sprinkling of councilors scarcely less
girlish, who came to camp in the summer of
1914. They came in a "sleeper," but did they
sleep? Just about as much as you or I would
have done in their places!

To be sure they did not talk. Oh, no! Pos-
sibly two, who had been "dearest friends" the
summer before, and had not seen each other
since, may have crept into the same berth and
whispered a few little croonings of delight in
the joy of being together again. Perhaps
some of them may have "wondered out loud"


B U ® ® S3£ft£g&2 m

"if the lake is still there?", "if it will look just
the same?" and, "how could it possibly be a
whole year since they had broken camp!"
Among those who had not been of the camp
the year before were some who came from the
same school, and these were glad to meet
again, and may have spoken once or twice.
Girls will be girls. But it would be unfair to
say that they talked.

Some had conspicuous boxes of candy
that had been given to them before leaving,
and seemed strangely eager to devour every
piece at once. An impression had gone
abroad that candy was not allowed in camp,
and they had best eat it while they might.
One girl confessed that she had eaten — was it
ten? — dishes full of ice-cream the day before,
supposing there would be no such treat in
camp. Little did she know of the Saturday
expeditions to the neighboring village, and cer-
tain little pasteboard boxes with tin spoons
stuck temptingly in the top, to say nothing
of the great freezer which inhabits the camp

Morning, and Portland, found a sleepy-
eyed but eager group of girls, ready for break-
fast and the ride on another train, which pres-


ently brought them to the dock to take the
busy little steamer across Lake Sebago. It
was nearly noon when the trip was over and
the steamer brought them to the dock at


These Sebago-Wohelo maidens did not
come to an unstaked camp in the woods. The
fires had been started days before, and a joy-
ous welcome awaited them, with everything in
readiness for their comfort. Some of those
already in camp had been working during the
days of waiting, others had been resting, en-
joying the stillness of the woods, disturbed
only by the whispering of the leaves and the
murmurings of the waves, which now was to
be broken by happy laughter and Cheer

Those who gathered on the dock to wel-
come the girls were dressed in white middies
and blue bloomers, and laughed at the out-
landish appearance of city clothes, and poked
fun at tight skirts and high-heeled shoes
which slipped and caught along the rocky
paths leading to the tents. But they did not
laugh long, for nearly every girl had bloom-


ers, a middie blouse and a pair of sneakers in
her suit-case. Soon all emerged in camp cos-
tume, with hair comfortably down in two
braids, all but one incorrigible, who left hers
in the french-roll, and for days held to this
remnant of boarding-school fashion. City
clothes were hung in the loft over the bunga-
low, like grinning relics of a by-gone age.

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