Camp Fire Dayton Has Closed Its Doors
(Dayton, Ohio) – The Board of Directors for the Camp Fire Greater Dayton Area council voted unanimously to dissolve the council, effective July 31, 2013. Closing became the only option after Camp Fire did not receive 2012-2013 county funding, which made up 80% of Camp Fire’s budget. The organization simply doesn’t have the finances to sustain.
Camp Fire Dayton’s history is outstanding and uplifting. But the reality is that the needs and interests of families and the options available to them today are varied and vast. Government and community funders impose criteria to fulfill their missions and visions that have fundamentally changed the foundation of many area not-for-profit organizations and their ability to acquire funding. The Camp Fire Greater Dayton Area council has tried to deal with and evolve with all of these ever-changing issues, but the increased numbers of nonprofit agencies competing for limited resources and the limited monetary support from Camp Fire alumni, area businesses and government funders have proven to be challenges that the council cannot overcome.
Camp Fire was the first nonsectarian and multicultural organization for girls, founded in 1910 by Luther Gulick, M.D., and his wife, Charlotte Gulick. The Gulicks felt strongly that young people should have experiences so they could learn to care for themselves, their environment, and the people around them. In the beginning, services were primarily provided in the traditional club environment. Volunteer leaders recruited girls (the youngest were called Bluebirds) within their neighborhood to form a group that met once a month in their home or at a community church.
The Dayton council, serving the southwest Ohio region, was incorporated in May of 1946 as the Miami Valley Council of Camp Fire Girls. The Dayton council went through numerous name changes over the years that former members may recognize – Dayton and Greater Miami Valley Council of Camp Fire Girls in 1967 – Shawnee Council of Camp Fire Girls in 1968 – Camp Fire Boys and Girls in 1976 - Camp Fire Council of the Greater Dayton Area in 1981 – Camp Fire USA Greater Dayton Area Council in 2001.
In 2001 the organization received the NAHRO Award of Merit in Housing & Community Development for innovative programs. The council was also identified as the “Non-Profit Organization of the Year” (2006) by the Huber Heights Chamber of Commerce for its work in the community with underserved families.
Over the years, the lives of thousands of girls and boys throughout the Miami Valley were shaped by the selfless adult volunteers that organized groups in Champaign, Clark, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties. Countless dedicated staff welcomed and worked with youth and their families from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Friendships were formed that lasted lifetimes. Skills were gained that shaped careers. Values were instilled that produced good citizens and caring stewards of our planet.
The Camp Fire Greater Dayton Area council board of directors and staff extend their thanks to everyone who made contributions throughout the years and to the families that allowed their children to participate in Camp Fire’s after school programs and summer day camps. The executive director of the council expresses hope that families will continue to invest in their children by seeking the best support available from other programs in the community. Mr. Keith Harrison concludes, “I will greatly miss serving as executive director for the Camp Fire Greater Dayton Area council. It was truly an honor.”