Hildegard G. Frey.

The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods Or, The Winnebagos Go Camping online

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E-text prepared by Meredith Minter Dixon


or, The Winnebagos Go Camping



Author of "The Camp Fire Girls at School," "The Camp Fire Girls
at Onoway House," "The Camp Fire Girls Go Motoring."

New York : A. L. Burt



Sahwah the Sunfish sat on top of the diving tower squinting
through Nakwisi's spy-glass at the distant horizon.

"Sister Anne, sister Anne," called Migwan from the rocks below,
"do you see any one coming?"

Sahwah lowered her glass and shook her head. "No sign of the
_Bluebird_ yet," she answered. "If Gladys doesn't come pretty
soon I shall die of impatience. Oh, what do you suppose she'll
be like, anyway?"

"Beautiful beyond compare," answered Migwan promptly, "and
skilled in every art we ever thought or dreamed of. She is going
to be my affinity, I feel it in my bones."

Sahwah looked rather pensive. "Nobody in her right mind would
choose me for an affinity," she said with a sigh, squinting
sidewise down her nose and mentally counting the freckles
thereon, "I'm not interesting enough looking."

"Goosie," said Migwan, laughing, "affinities aren't chosen, they
just happen. You see somebody for the first time and you don't
know a thing about her, perhaps not even her name, and yet
something tells you that you two belong together. That's an

"But how can you tell in advance that you and Gladys are going to
be affinities?" asked Sahwah. "How do you know that when she
sees me waving the sheet from the tower she won't say to herself,
'The energetic maiden on yon lofty tower is my one and only love.
I can only see one bloomer leg and a hank of hair, but that is
enough to recognize my soul mate by. Come to my arms, Finny!'"

Migwan laughed at the picture, and replied mysteriously, "Oh, I
have a way of telling things beforehand. I can read them in the

Sahwah sniffed and resumed her watch, holding the sheet in
readiness to wave the instant the little steamer should appear
around Blueberry Island. The minutes passed without a sign of
the _Bluebird_, and Sahwah grew tired of looking at nothing. She
ceased staring fixedly at the distant gap between Blueberry
Island and the mainland, and pointed the glass around at the
objects near her; at Migwan washing middies in the lake, her soap
tied to the dock to keep it from floating away; at the toothbrushes
strewn over the rocks like bones bleaching in the sun; at the smooth
strip of shining sand; aiming her glass idly now here, now there,
her feet swinging in the air eighteen feet above the water, her
long brown hair flying in the wind.

High up on the cliff Hinpoha stood nailing the railing around the
Crow's Nest, a tiny tree-house just big enough for two, built in
the branches of a tall pine tree. She finished her pounding and
stood looking out over the gleaming lake, dotted with rocky,
pine-covered islands, shading her eyes with her hand. Her gaze
strayed again and again to the narrow gap between Blueberry
Island and the mainland, and now and then she heaved an impatient
sigh. "Oh, please, dear _Bluebird_," she said aloud, "please
hurry up!" By and by her eyes rested upon Sahwah, silhouetted
against the sky on top of the diving tower. Picking up a big dry
pine cone from the floor of the Crow's Nest, she took careful aim
and sent it sailing downward in a swift, curving flight. The
prickly missile hit Sahwah squarely in the back of the neck. She
started violently and threw up her arms, while the spyglass fell
into the water with a loud splash. Hinpoha laughed a ringing
laugh when she beheld the effect of her handiwork. Sahwah turned
around and saw Hinpoha perched in the Crow's Nest, nearly doubled
up with laughter, and she too laughed, and then, shaking her fist
amiably in Hinpoha's direction, she prepared to dive from the
tower, bloomers and all, in search of the spy-glass.

As she stood there poised on the end of the springboard her ears
caught the sound of a swinging boating song, borne on the breeze
across the water:

"Across the silver'd lake
The moonlit ripples break,
Their path a magic highway seems:
We'll send our good canoe
Along that highway, too,
And follow where the moonlight gleams."

Around the cliff which jutted out just beyond the camp there
appeared two canoes, containing four more of the Winnebagos,
making all speed ahead, the girls singing in time to the dipping
of their paddles. Sahwah curved her hands around her mouth and
set forth a long, yodling hail, which was answered in kind by the
paddlers. Then the four girls in the boats, speaking all
together as with one voice, called to Sahwah, "J-U-D-G-E T-H-E
F-I-N-I-S-H! W-E-'-R-E R-A-C-I-N-G!"

Sahwah waved her arm as a signal that she understood, and then
stood motionless, her eyes fixed on the shadow of the springboard
on the water, watching to see which canoe would cross it first.
In a few moments the slender green craft bearing Nyoda and
Medmangi shot into view beneath her, the two paddlers shouting
triumphantly. Scarcely a canoe-length behind came the other
pair. Choosing the instant when the second canoe was directly
beneath her, Sahwah jumped from the springboard and landed neatly
in the bow, upsetting the craft and dumping the girls into the
lake. The other girls in the first canoe, just ahead, turned to
see what was happening, and in their laughter over the upset
forgot to hold their own boat steady, and presently there was a
second spill. Sahwah came up choking with laughter, and was
immediately ducked under again by Nakwisi and Chapa, the two she
had dropped in upon. The water flew in all directions, and
Migwan fled over the rocks to avoid being drenched. Medmangi and
Nyoda also came up thirsting for vengeance, but Sahwah escaped by
swimming under water around the dock and clambering out on the
rocks. She made an impish grimace at Migwan, who was standing on
the rock where she came up. Migwan leaned over and put a streak
of soap on her face, Sahwah promptly caught Migwan by the feet
and pulled her off the rock into the water. Struggling, they
both went under and came up choking and giggling. Hinpoha, from
her airy perch in the tree, cheered the combatants on. "Good
work, Migwan, hang on to the rock! That's the stuff, Sahwah,
pull her off!"

Meanwhile, the four racers, at Nyoda's suggestion, had towed
their canoes out some distance from the dock and were trying to
right them and climb in. This was easier said than done, for as
fast as they splashed the water out on one side it ran in at the
other. Nyoda and Medmangi were trying to get all the water out
of theirs before getting in themselves, while Nakwisi and Chapa
had theirs half empty and had managed to get in and were
splashing the water out from both sides at once. Sahwah and
Migwan stopped ducking each other to watch the righting process.
Nakwisi and Chapa had just triumphantly paddled up to the canoe
dock, and Nyoda and Medmangi were just about ready to start, when
Hinpoha shouted that the _Bluebird_ was coming. The girls looked
up to find the little steamer hardly a hundred yards from the
dock. "Sahwah," cried Nyoda, hastily coming up on the dock,
"where is the sheet you were going to wave from the tower when
the _Bluebird_ came in sight?"

"It's up on top," said Sahwah, running for the ladder. An
instant later she was frantically waving the sheet from the top
of the tower. There was no time for the girls to get dry clothes
on before the boat stopped beside the dock. They lined up all
dripping, except Hinpoha, to greet, the newcomer, and looked on
expectantly when a young girl of about sixteen stepped ashore.
Nyoda advanced and held out her hand.

"Welcome to Camp Winnebago," she said cordially. "Girls, this is
Gladys Evans, our new member, whose father has made it possible
for us to camp here this summer. Winnebago Maidens, stand forth
and tell your names! You begin, 'Poha."

"I am Hinpoha," said the girl addressed, an extremely fat girl
with an amazing quantity of bright red hair that curled below her
waist, "it means 'Curly Haired."'

"I am Sahwah the Sunfish," said a slim brown-haired maiden with
dancing eyes. "I chose the Sun part because I like sunshine and
the Fish part because I like to swim. I am very virtuous and a
pattern of propriety." The girls shouted with laughter.

"My name is Migwan," said the next girl. "It means 'Quill Pen,'
and stands for my ambition to write stories and things." She was
a thoughtful-looking girl with a beautiful high forehead and
large dreamy eyes.

So all the girls introduced themselves, Chapa the Chipmunk,
Medmangi the Medicine Man Girl, and Nakwisi the Star Maiden. "And
this," they cried in unison, encircling one of their number with
affectionate arms, "is Nyoda, the best Guardian that ever lived!"

"How do you do, Miss Kent?" said Gladys, in a high, artificially
sweet voice, staring amazedly at her wet clothes and then around
at the dishevelled group. She was a very fair girl, rather tall,
but slender and pale and delicate looking. "Stuck up," was
Sahwah's mental estimate.

"How do you do, girls?" she continued, edging, back a little, as
if she were afraid they might also enfold her in a wet embrace,
"would you mind telling me your names?"

"We told you our names," said Sahwah.

"I mean your real names," answered Gladys, "you don't expect me
to remember all those Camp Fire names, do you?"

"Oh, you'll learn them soon enough," said Nyoda, "we left our old
names behind us when we came to camp." Silence fell on the
group, and each girl was acutely conscious of her wet clothes.
Sahwah looked to see Migwan and Gladys fall into each other's
arms, but nothing happened. Nyoda was busy checking over the
supplies brought by the boat. The silence became awkward.

"Look, there's an eagle," shrieked Hinpoha suddenly, pointing to
a large winged bird that was circling slowly above the lake.

"Quick, where's my glass?" said Nakwisi.

"Wait a minute, I'll get it for you," said Sahwah, and quick as a
flash she dove off the end of the dock, coming up with the
spy-glass in her hand. Gladys's eyes nearly popped out of her
head as Sahwah cast herself headlong into the water.

"Awfully sorry, 'Wisi, I dropped it in off the tower," said
Sahwah, tendering her the glass, "will getting it wet hurt it
any?" Nakwisi screwed her beloved glass back and forth and wiped
the lenses and finally reported it unharmed.

"Sahwah, Sahwah," said Nyoda, shaking her head, "you will never
learn to be careful of other people's things?"

Sahwah flushed. "I didn't mean to be careless with it, it just
slipped out of my hand."

Here Hinpoha spoke up. "It's all my fault, Nyoda," she explained.
"I hit her with a pine cone and made her drop it."

Nyoda could do nothing but laugh at the good-natured sparring
that was continually going on between those two. "Come on,
girls," she called, "and get dry clothes on. Whoever gets dressed
first may go to the village with me this afternoon."

The girls scurried up the steep path like squirrels and Nyoda
followed more slowly with Gladys, whose city shoes made it hard
for her to climb. As they went up she explained how she happened
to be so wet, describing in detail the upsetting of the canoes.
Gladys's eyes opened wide at the tale of Sahwah's pranks. "How
dreadful," she said with a shudder, and Nyoda sighed inwardly,
for she realized that she had a problem on her hands.

Gladys Evans was not a regular member of the Winnebago Camp Fire.
She did not attend the public high school where the other girls
went, but went to a private girls' school in the East. Early in
the spring, Mr. Evans, with whom Miss Kent was slightly
acquainted, came to her and offered her group the use of his
camping grounds on Loon Lake in Maine for the summer if they
would take Gladys in and teach her to do the things they did. He
had become interested in the Winnebago group through a picture of
them in the newspaper, and thought it would be a fine thing for
Gladys. He and Mrs. Evans were going on an all-summer trip
through Canada with a party of friends, and wanted to put Gladys
where she would have a good time. He added in confidence that
Gladys had been in the company of grown-ups so much that she felt
altogether too grown up herself, and he wished her to romp a
whole summer in bloomers and forget about styles.

Miss Kent gladly accepted the charge. Aside from her willingness
to help Gladys, the offer of a camping ground for the summer was
irresistible. All winter the girls had been trying to find a
place to camp for at least a few weeks the next summer, and had
given a play to raise the money. They had not thought of going
so far away as Maine, but now that they could have the camp
without paying for it they could use the money for railroad
fares. Such a shout went up from the Winnebagos when Miss Kent
broke the news that passersby paused to listen. They sang a
dozen different cheers to Gladys and her father; then they
cheered for the lake and the camp and the good time they were
going to have until they were too hoarse to speak. Gladys was
then away at school and was to be in New York City with her
parents until the first of July, so Miss Kent and her girls came
up the last week in June to open camp. Gladys had never seen the
place until that day, for her father had just bought it the
previous winter. That she did not want to come was evident to
Miss Kent. She was overdressed and rather supercilious looking,
and was not strong enough to really enjoy the rough and tumble
life of the camp. Miss Kent realized that some adjusting would
be necessary before Gladys would be transformed into a genuine
Winnebago. "But we'll do it, never fear," she thought brightly,
with the unquenchable optimism that had won for her the name of
"Face Toward the Mountain."



Supper, which was eaten on the big rock overhanging the lake, was
made short work of, for tonight was to be held the first Council

"What's going to happen?" asked Gladys of Nyoda, watching the
girls scrambling out of their bloomers and middies and into brown
khaki dresses trimmed with leather fringe.

"Ceremonial Meeting," answered Nyoda, slipping on a pair of
beaded moccasins.

"What's that?" asked Gladys.

"You'll see," said Nyoda. "Follow the girls when I call them."

Nyoda slipped out of her tent and disappeared into the woods. In
a few minutes a clear call rang out through the stillness:
"Wohelo, Wohelo, come ye all Wohelo." The girls stepped forward
in a single file, their arms folded in front of them, singing as
they went, "Wohelo, Wohelo, come we all Wohelo." Gladys followed
at the tail of the procession.

Nyoda stood in the center of a circular space about twenty feet
across among the trees, completely surrounded by high pines. In
the middle the fire was laid. The girls took their places in the
circle, and Gladys, now arrayed in bloomers and middy, with her
hair down in two braids and a leather band around her forehead,
sat under a tree and looked on. Not being a Camp Fire Girl she
could not sit in the Council Circle. Nyoda made fire with the
bow and drill, and when the leaping flames lit up the circle of
faces the girls sprang to their feet and sang, "Burn, fire,
burn," and then, "Mystic Fire," with its dramatic gestures.
Gladys, sitting in the shadows, looked on curiously at the
fantastically clad figures passing back and forth around the fire

"Ghost-dance round the mystic ring,
Faces in the starlight glow,
Maids of Wohelo.
Praises to Wokanda sing,
While the music soft and low
Rubbing sticks grind slow.
Dusky forest now darker grown,
Broods in silence o'er its own,
Till the wee spark to a flame has blown,
And living fire leaps up to greet
The song of Wohelo."

As they chanted the words the girls acted out with gestures the
dancing ghosts, the brooding forest, the rubbing sticks and the
leaping fire. So they proceeded through the strange measures,
ending up in a close circle around the fire, all making the hand
sign of fire together. Gladys began to be stirred with a desire
to sit in the circle.

When the girls were again seated in their original places and the
roll called, Nyoda rose and read the rules of camp. No one was
to leave the camp without telling at least one person where she
was going, or the general direction in which she was going, and
the length of time she expected to be gone. No candy was to be
bought in the village. No one was to go in swimming except at
the regular swimming time. Every one pointed a finger at Sahwah
when this was read, for she had been going into the lake at least
a dozen times a day. No one could go in swimming whose
belongings were not in order at tent inspection time. A groan
went around the circle at this.

Nyoda dwelt with particular emphasis on the rules governing the
canoes. No one could go out in a canoe who had not taken the
swimming test. No one could go out in a canoe unless Sahwah,
Hinpoha or herself were along. Disobedience to these rules would
mean having to stay out of the canoes altogether. She explained
to the girls the importance of implicit obedience to the one in
charge of a boat, regardless of personal feeling, and how the
captain of a vessel had absolute authority over those on board.
She spoke of the necessity of coolheadedness and courage on the
part of the girl in charge, and ability to control her temper.
She said she knew Sahwah and Hinpoha were well able to have
charge of a canoe and she would never feel uneasy to have the
other girls go out with them. Hinpoha and Sahwah flushed with
pleasure and mentally resolved to die rather than prove unworthy
of her trust. Gladys gave a little start when the canoe rules
were read. She could not swim. She had been looking forward to
going out in a canoe very shortly.

The rest of the rules dealt with the day's schedule, which was as

Rising bugle at seven.
Morning dip.
Song hour.
Tent inspection.
Craft work.
Folk dancing.
Lesson in camp cookery.
Rest hour.
Nature study.
Two hours spent in any way preferred.
Evening open for any kind of stunt.
First bugle, 8:30.
Lights out, 9:00.

Ceremonial meeting would be held every week on Monday night,
because the girls had so many opportunities to win honors now
that a whole month would be too long to wait.

After the announcements Nyoda awarded the honors. Medmangi had
taken the swimming test, Nakwisi and Chapa had righted an
overturned canoe, Sahwah had built a reflecting oven and baked
biscuits in it. All the girls had won some kind of an honor.
Gladys listened wonderingly to the account of the things they had
accomplished - things she did not have the faintest notion of how
to do.

Then came the elevating of Migwan to the rank of Fire Maker.
Proudly she exhibited her fourteen purple beads, indicating the
fulfilment of the fourteen requirements. Nyoda asked her
questions on the things she had learned, and asked her to explain
to the girls how much better she had gotten along since she
started to keep an itemized account book. Migwan blushed and
hung her head, for figures were an abomination to her and keeping
accounts a fearful task. If it had not been for her ambition to
be a Fire Maker she would never have attempted it at all, but
once having learned how she realized their value, and heroically
resolved to keep accurate accounts right along. When it came to
the subject of bandaging she had to give demonstrations of
triangular and roller bandaging, with Hinpoha as the subject.
Then in a clear, earnest voice she dedicated her "strength, her
ambition, her heart's desire, her joy and her sorrow" to the
keeping up of the flame of love for her fellow creatures.
Satisfied that Migwan was a worthy candidate, Nyoda slipped the
silver bracelet on her arm and proclaimed her a Fire Maker.
Migwan blushed fiery red and hung her head modestly.

"Speech, speech!" shouted the girls. "Give us a poem, Migwan."

Migwan thought a moment and then recited dramatically:

"I am a Fire Maker!
I have completed
The Fourteen Requirements!
I have repeated
The Fire Maker's Desire!
Now I may light
The great Council Fire!
Now I may kindle
The Wohelo Candles!
Long months have I labored
Gathering firewood,
That I might kindle
The Fire of Wohelo!
My arm is encircled
With a silver bracelet,
The outward symbol
Of the Fire I have kindled;
And those who behold it
Shall say to each other,
'Lo, she has labored,
She has given service,
She has pursued knowledge,
She has been trustworthy,
Fulfilled the requirements,
She is a Fire Maker!'
That symbol is sacred,
A charm against evil,
Evil thoughts and dark passions,
Against envy and hatred!
One step am I nearer
The goal of my ambition,
To be a Torch Bearer
Is now my desire!
To carry aloft
The threefold flame,
The symbol of Work,
Of Health and of Love,
The flaming, enveloping
Symbol of Love
Triumphant; where might fails
I conquer by Love!
Where I have been led
I now will lead others,
Undimmed will I pass on
The light I have kindled;
The flame in my hand
Shall mount higher and higher,
To be a Torch Bearer
Is now my desire!"

A round of applause followed. Next the "Count" was called for.
This had also been written by Migwan. In rippling Hiawatha meter
it told how the Winnebagos had journeyed

"From their homes in distant Cleveland
To Loon Lake's inviting waters - "

how they pitched the tents and made the beds, how they named the
tents Alpha and Omega, how eagerly they awaited Gladys's coming,
how Sahwah was placed on the tower to wave at her,

"And the telescope descending,
Fell kersplash into the water,"

and all the rest of the doings up to the beginning of Council

Nyoda then rose and said that as the Camp Fire was a singing
movement she wished the girls to write as many songs as possible,
and to encourage this had worked out a system of local honors for
songs which could be sung by the Winnebagos. Any girl writing
the words of a song which was adopted for use would receive a
leather W cut in the form of wings to represent "winged words" or
poetry; the honor for composing the music for a song would be a
winged note cut from leather, and the honor for writing both
words and music would be a combination of the two. These were to
be known as the "Olowan" honors, because "Olowan" was the
Winnebago word for song, and were quite independent of the
National song honors, because a great many songs which could not
be adopted by the National organization would be admirable for
use in the local group on account of their aptness.

Just before they sang the Goodnight Song, Nyoda drew Gladys into
the group and officially invited her to become a Winnebago at the
next Council Fire. Gladys accepted the invitation and the girls
sang a ringing cheer to her because her coming made it possible
for them to have the camp.

To close the Ceremonial Meeting the girls sang "Mammy Moon,"
ending up by lying in a circle around the fire, their heads
pillowed on one another. The fire was burning very low now and
great shadows from the woods lay across the open space. Nyoda
stole silently to the edge of the clearing and the girls rose and
filed past her, softly singing "Now our Camp Fire's burning low."
Nyoda held each girl's hand in a warm clasp for a moment as she
passed before her and the girls clung to her lovingly. The
forest was so big and dark, and they were so far from home, and
Nyoda was so strong and tender!

"Wasn't it wonderful?" whispered Migwan to Sahwah, as they picked
their way back to the tents in the darkness.

"Wasn't it, though!" answered Sahwah, flashing her little bug
light on the path before her.

Gladys's bed was in the Omega tent with Sahwah, Hinpoha and
Migwan. One end faced the lake and the stars peeked in with
friendly twinkles, while the moon flooded the place with silver
light. The three girls were out of their Ceremonial costumes and
into their nightgowns in no time, while Gladys fussed around

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