Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Happy Father’s Day

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

In Iowa, where I lived in elementary school, we had Bluebirds and Campfire Girls instead of Brownies and Girl Scouts.

Camp Fire Stamp
Camp Fire Stamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Camp Fire Girls, now Camp Fire, was founded on March 17, 1912, by Dr. Luther Gulick and his wife, Charlotte, on Sebago Lake, Maine.

It began in 1910, after girls in Thatford, Vermont watched preparations for the Boy Scouts’ 150th anniversary and were promised by the organizer that there would be a national organization for them as well. The Gulicks took up the challenge. They had opened Camp WoHeLo for girls on Lake Sebago in 1907. In 1913, with 60,000 members, the Blue Bird program was added for younger girls. Junior Hi, for 12 and 13-year olds, was added in 1962, just as I was aging out of the program. The organization went co-ed in 1975. They now have 300,000 members.

Though I never went to camp, Camp Fire now has more than 61,000 children at 130 day and sleep-away camps and is the largest co-ed camp provider in the country. Marion Anderson, Shirley Temple Black, Gladys Knight, Madonna, , Myrna Loy, Ann Richards, Jessica Lange, Dinah Shore, Elizabeth Warren, Kristi Yamaguchi, Lady Bird Johnson, Christie Brinkley, Lynda Carter and Janis Joplin were all Camp Fire Girls.

For completing activities, in areas like sports, outdoors, environment, creativity, business, citizenship and science, members earn small, colored beads.

Sample activities that might earn you a bead include:

  • Recognize and identify several birds by their calls
  • Track an animal in the snow
  • Show that you know how to use and care for a pocket knife
  • Dye a piece of fabric using natural dyes, like berries
  • Trace your family heritage back three generations
  • Write a letter to your U.S. Representative on an issue of importance to you
  • Describe the symptoms of shock
  • Talk to someone in and someone out of a union and ask for their opinions about unions
  • Take a fish off a hook and put it on a stringer
  • Explain safety rules for shooting a rifle
  • Draw a diagram showing how a spider spins a web
  • Determine how old a tree was by counting the rings on a stump

When you have earned 10 small beads of one color, you can trade them in for a large bead of the same color. We had felt vests on which we sewed our beads in colorful patterns. One of my mother’s videos of me was when we hosted a Camp Fire Girls meeting at my house and marched around the dining room table so Mom could video the fronts and backs of our colorful vests.

I remember particularly a Camp Fire father-daughter banquet. The fathers sang to their daughters that night, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” I lost my father at a too-young 73 in 1991. But, I’ll always remember the twinkle in his eyes as he sang to me that night.

Click here for a 1934 Bing Crosby version of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” on Youtube. Like Bing Crosby, my Dad was also a great whistler, and, as it happens, I have blue eyes.

I miss you, Dad.

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers”


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Comments (3 )

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  1. JeriWB says:

    If I had kinds I would definitely get them involved in groups like this. I always wanted to be when I was little, but it was too much bother for mom or dad to take the time 🙁

  2. carolcovin says:

    Parents, usually Moms, do have to make sure kids get to meetings on time and support them as they work for badges or beads. My Mom was never a group leader, but she supported my participation. My husband was a troop leader when our son was in Boy Scouts, but that's a whole different level of commitment.