A brief history of
Camp Fire First Texas

2010s

2018 to date

First annual Top Golf event held, chaired by Board Member Travis Patterson, raising more than budgeted.

Spurck Cabin at El Tesoro renovated as living quarters for year-round program staff.

2017

Camp Fire Diamond Hill Station cut the ribbon on a completely renovated space thanks to a $100,000 community grant from the Junior League of Fort Worth including a new kitchen, learning materials, audio visual tools and a garden. The renovation included curriculum support focusing on healthy eating and meal preparation.

Camp Fire co-hosted the Cardboard Challenge with Walsh Communities. More than 24 projects were submitted, and 6 community judges helped determine winners in categories such as "Most Tape", "Tallest Creation" and "Most Interactive Game."

President/CEO Ann Sheets celebrated her 40th anniversary working for Camp Fire First Texas.

Camp Fire opened a NEW after school location in Aledo ISD at Walsh Elementary, making it the fifth after school program operated by Camp Fire serving Parker County.

Board Chair Lauri Curtis Hadobas was named as one of three finalists for the Center for Nonprofit Management's Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year.

A new council Strategic Plan was adopted for 2018 – 2020, with a focus on Viability-Influence-Participation.

Camp Fire First Texas was featured in six advertorials in the Fort Worth Business Press, increasing the exposure about Camp Fire to a new audience.

The Camp Fire First Texas Foundation was renamed the "El Tesoro Foundation" and ownership of all council property, buildings, and improvements was transferred to the El Tesoro Foundation from the council.

At El Tesoro, Pashuta was renovated as living quarters for year-round program staff.

2016

The Camp Fire Blog was launched featuring voices and perspectives from staff, program families and program participants.

Camp Fire Child Development Center was voted Fort Worth, Texas Magazine's "Best Of -Child Care" Reader's Choice.

Camp Fire was voted "Fort Worth Weekly Best Of" in THREE categories: Reader's Choice, Best Nonprofit Organization; Reader's Choice, Best Summer Camp Camp El Tesoro and Reader's Choice, Best Daycare – Camp Fire Child Development Center.

El Tesoro was co-branded as the Texas Outdoor Education Center to better reflect the outdoor education program offered during the school year.

Six new cabins were completed in the Horizon Unit at El Tesoro, significantly increasing the number of camp spaces available for older campers.

2015

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price spoke at the Big Blooming Party, thanking volunteers as they celebrated the first annual bloom of more than 33,000 daffodil bulbs planted on the banks of the Trinity River in commemoration of Camp Fire First Texas' Centennial.

Council headquarters building was renamed the 'Zem Neill Camp Fire Resource Center for Youth Development' in honor of Zem's 37-year service and on her retirement in June 2015. Zem served as Executive Director since 1978; the title was changed in 2001 to President/CEO.

Ann Sheets is named the 9th President/CEO of Camp Fire First Texas.

Camp Fire successfully concluded the $10.7 million Campaign for El Tesoro to construct new facilities and update existing buildings, ensuring that camp and outdoor programming will be available for many years to come for children and youth in North Texas.

2014

Camp Fire 100th logoCamp Fire First Texas celebrates its centennial year with special alumni events, museum display, Centennial Celebration Luncheon and Project Daffodil.

"A Century of Sparking Discovery," a historic collection of Camp Fire First Texas artifacts and memorabilia dating back to 1914, opened at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History featuring 100+ year-old ceremonial gown of Camp Fire's founder Charlotte Gulick.

Eight new cabins are built at Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro as part of the Campaign for El Tesoro.

An Artists' Christmas 30th Anniversary is celebrated.

2013

2013 Wohelo LodgeWoHeLo Lodge and a new center of camp is completed at Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro as part of the Campaign for El Tesoro.

The Rainwater Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Camp Fire First Texas, announces the premiere of Excel for Success, a comprehensive, early childhood professional learning system.

Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro was named as "The Most Awesome Family Camping Site" by the readers of Red Tricycle.

2012

Construction completed at El Tesoro for a new Equestrian Center. The Equestrian Center includes 12,000 square feet of covered, open-air riding arena.

2012 Camp Fire logoCamp Fire headquarters changes the name from "Camp Fire USA" to "Camp Fire" and introduces the organizations first "promise" replacing the mission statement of yesteryear. The flame icon becomes a spark to represent a fresh perspective on youth development.

The Council moves forward with plans to begin construction of a new dining hall and center of camp.

2011

First Texas Council invites four representatives from the National Camping Association of Japan to be a part of El Tesoro de la Vida as they learn how to plan and conduct grief camps for the survivors of the tsunami and earthquake.

The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation approves a challenge grant to support the Campaign for El Tesoro in the amount of $751,800.

Camp Fire partners with LSG Sky Chefs to provide cooking-based training titled "Eat Smart from the Start" for child care professionals through a grant from Share Our Strength.

2010

2010 challenge courseThe challenge course is added at El Tesoro as the first project in the Campaign for El Tesoro.

The Child Care Network established with Pier 1 Imports and TCU as first partners with Camp Fire, offer employees customized child care solutions while simultaneously increasing quality of child care in the community.


 

2000s

2009

2009 Capital Campaign for El Tesoro

Capital Campaign for El Tesoro, with a $10.3 million goal, is begun. First Texas Council Foundation agrees to underwrite all administrative costs of the campaign.

The Council assumes the lease for Camp Rio Roxo on Lake Texoma.

An Artists' Christmas 25th Anniversary is celebrated.

2008

Saudi Arabian Boy Scout representatives visit El Tesoro in collaboration with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.

2008 Denis Cranford Laura Bush AwardSergio Samora, a Camp Fire Step Up student, selected by Students on Ice to spend 10 days on an Arctic expedition to the North Pole.

El Tesoro de la Vida volunteer director Denis Cranford is presented the President's Volunteer Service Award by First Lady Laura Bush.

2007

Aledo After School program is established at two elementary schools, Coder and Stuard.

2007 Kaboom playgroundKaboom! and volunteers build a new playground at Diamond Hill Station, designed with help from the DHS after school students.

First Annual Spring Conference for Early Childhood Educators held at the Camp Fire Resource Center.

First Texas Council begins using social media, with several Facebook pages. Twitter and Google Plus would be added later, as well as a council Linked In page.

2006

First Celebration of Champions Dinner held to recognize the child care community in the First Texas Council jurisdiction.

2005

Camp Fire's School Readiness program is established in cooperation with the Fort Worth ISD.

 Forty campers from Camptivity and the Diamond Hill Station day camp took to the sky as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program. Each child was taken for a 15 – 20 minute flight in a single engine plane flown by pilots from the local EAA chapter in Granbury.

2004

2004 AIK pencilCamp Fire Child Development Center receives the "Inclusionary Vision Award" from the Fort Worth ISD Special Education Advisory Committee and the Fort Worth Mayor's Committee on Persons with Disabilities.

First Texas Council expands its "Absolutely Incredible Kid Day" program, with a local theme of "Use a #2 to Tell Them They're #1." A thirty-eight foot pencil mounted on a flat bed trailer toured the city for over a month, advertising AIKD.

2003

First Texas Council signs the first of four gas leases. The council transfers ownership of mineral assets to the FTC Foundation and during the next several years, wells are drilled on all four properties.

2002

Fire damages the Main Lodge at El Tesoro; renovations are completed by fall.

Camp Fire USA First Texas Council receives funding from the US Department of Education for its Connect 4 Success program.

2001

2001 Camp Fire logoThrough a nationwide public awareness campaign, Camp Fire introduces a new brand identity, "Camp Fire USA" and a national theme line, "Today's kids, tomorrow's leaders."

National convention is held in Fort Worth and Camp Fire USA debuts newly revised curricula for small-group programs serving grades K-5.

At El Tesoro, RuLoHo was renovated to become the arts and crafts building.

2000

2000 Rosie MaukRosie Mauk, who served as the council's Campaign for Children Chairman, is elected president of the national Camp Fire Boys and Girls board of directors.

Clubs in the First Texas Council are no longer actively recruited. By the mid-2000s, no active clubs remain. The council's service population has changed from club members to all children.

Camptivity at LMRA was founded as a day camp, providing all summer care for the children of LMRA employees and the public. Camptivity had been known as "Corporate Camp" in its first summer, 1999.

First Texas Council hosts the National Youth Forum at TCU; more than 400 participants from 41 councils and 27 states participated in workshops to challenge violence in America.

Peter Yarrow of the legendary folk group Peter, Paul and Mary presented a benefit concert for Camp El Tesoro de la Vida.

 


1990s

1999

At the national convention in Seattle, the new mission of Camp Fire is announced, "Camp Fire builds caring, confident youth and future leaders."

First Texas Council establishes its first website.

1998

First Texas Council begins an alternative education program at Diamond Hill Station for high school students in collaboration with the Fort Worth ISD.

Corporate Champions for Children is recognized by the White House for its inclusion in the Department of Labor's report on best corporate child care practices.

The council is chosen as one of five councils in the nation to pilot "Building On Sesame Street" with the creators of Sesame Street, Children's Television Workshop. Offered in Spanish and in English, 27 child care providers are trained to take advantage of teachable moments after viewing a video.

1997

1997 Pat and Jack ShannonCamp Fire and the nation celebrate the first-ever "Absolutely Incredible Kid Day" - a call to action for all adults to communicate through letters their love and commitment to children.

A new chapel is dedicated at El Tesoro and the 10th anniversary of El Tesoro de la Vida is celebrated.

The First Texas Council is chosen as one of nine Camp Fire councils in the nation to guide other councils in extending their reach to under-served youth. This selection was part of a $1 million grant from DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest.

1996 Special Sitters1996

The Special Sitter program won the National Youth For America Award from Colgate-Palmolive.

Community Services and Outreach begins operating a "Kids Club" for HIV-affected children at the Ann Simon Reeves Center in Fort Worth.

1995

The Community Services and Outreach Division was created to provide non-traditional programming, such as after school programs and truancy prevention courses, to underserved youth,

A club program is offered to the children of inmates at Carswell Federal Women's Prison in Fort Worth.

The council established a catering and rental program to utilize conference rooms and raise funds.

1994

1994 Ann RichardsCouncil wins the contract for Child Care Training for Tarrant, Texoma and North Central Texas, over $465,000 in government funding.

The Camp Fire Resource Center for Youth Development and Camp Fire's Lab School for Family-Centered Child Care were dedicated by Texas Governor Ann Richards.

The CoLoNa Club from Arlington won the National Youth For America Award from Colgate-Palmolive for coordinating a child abuse awareness event.

The Community Services Division is established at the First Texas Council and includes Diamond Hill Station.

1995 CDC1993

First Texas Council opens the Child Development Center in August with 92 children.

Parents were offered assistance in searching for child care with the addition of Camp Fire's Child Care Resource and Referral services.

Corporate Champions, a collaboration of Tarrant County major employers dedicated to improving child care in Tarrant County, was launched by First Texas Council.

First "Chuck Wagon Round-Up" held at El Tesoro to raise funds for capital improvements at the camp.

1992

The council began training family child care providers and child care center staff to improve the quality of child care in the community. The Work/Family Division is created to coordinate all child care training and services.

The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund awards Camp Fire a $2.5 million grant. This enables Camp Fire to establish the Champions for Children program, which strengthens the capacity of councils through professional development opportunities for staff.

1990

Campaign for Children was initiated to raise over $4 million to build the Camp Fire Resource Center for Youth Development and Community Lab School for Family-Centered Child Care creating the council's Work/Family and Child Care Division.

Clubs within the First Texas Council decline in number; no longer are clubs the majority of youth served by the council.

 


1980s

1989

1989 starflight

Camp Fire's "Blue Bird" level becomes "Starflight" and begins serving both boys and girls.

The council hosted Camp Fire's National congress in Fort Worth and celebrated the council's 75th anniversary.

Fort Worth native and television, film and stage actress Betty Buckley served as honorary Camp Fire Candy Chairman during the council's Camp Fire Candy Sale.

First Texas Council establishes the Ella C. McFadden Service to Youth Award. The first recipient is the Fort Worth ISD, for its Adopt-a-School program.

1988 Harvie Pruitt1988

Harvie Pruitt, Jr. was the first male to receive the WoHeLo medallion in the First Texas Council.

Camp El Tesoro de la Vida (The Treasure of Life) was founded to offer grieving children a supportive atmosphere to deal with the loss of a loved one, as well as a place to have fun. In 1988 it received the American Camp Association's Eleanor P. Eells Award for Program Excellence.

Camp Fire introduces "Teens in Action" as a one-time social issue campaign to energize the older youth program.

1987

Dorothy McClure gave the council 18 acres in North Richland Hills which became Camp McClure.

1985

Special Sitters program was created to train teenagers to care for children with special needs.

1983 camp fire logo

The council purchased 40-acre Camp LaCaWi, which means "Little Camp With a Lake" located between Rhome and Decatur in Wise County.

An Artists' Christmas debuted raising $22,000 in its first year, the Council's largest fundraiser.

1984

The council used $369,367 from the sale of Mary's Creek Camp to establish an endowment fund.
Council hires first development director to raise funds and coordinate special events.


1983

1983 sparksCo-ed Camp Fire Sparks program created for kindergarteners.

The Council purchases its first computers, five green/black work stations with a 15 megabyte shared hard drive for $33,000.

The $1.5 million capital campaign moved the organization to Meacham Boulevard, and over 1,500 attend the El Tesoro 50th Season Celebration.

Diamond Hill Station established, so named because the facility was first located in a former Fort Worth City fire station.

1980 camp fire clubs1980

The number of Camp Fire clubs in First Texas Council reaches an all-time high of 500 throughout the six-county jurisdiction.

 


1970s

1979

The first boys attend overnight camp at El Tesoro.

Response programs (later called Self-reliance programs), including "I Can Do It, Too" are introduced in the council, increasing the reach of the Camp Fire program from club and camp to include short-term programs designed for a single focus.

Camp Fire Girls, Inc. changes its name to Camp Fire, Inc. to reflect its new co-ed programs.

1978

Zem Neill joins the First Texas Council as the 8th executive director.

The council begins its first capital campaign to relocate offices to its present-day headquarters on Meacham Boulevard and to make renovations to El Tesoro.

1977

Boys ages 6-7 in Camp Fire are called Blue Jays.

Camp Fire national headquarters moves from New York City to Kansas City, Missouri, site of the first Camp Fire council. Kansas City was selected over Fort Worth as the national headquarters by a one-vote margin.

The National Award for Courage is awarded to Wanda Drews, an El Tesoro camp counselor, for rendering aid and saving the life of a car accident victim. Wanda later became a nurse.

Ann Sheets joins the First Texas Council as El Tesoro camp director.

1973-78 Camp Fire Logo1975

Camp Fire expands its horizons and encourages boys to participate in all Camp Fire activities.

1973

The council serves six counties, today's official jurisdiction:
Tarrant, Wise, Parker, Hood, Denton, and parts of Johnson.

The council's name was changed to First Texas Council of Camp Fire.

 


1960s

1967

A club member's uniform is no longer called a Camp Fire "costume."

The council purchased 87 acres of property at Mary's Creek.

1965

Mrs. Charles (Alann) F. Bedford, who pioneered the system of club districts in Fort Worth, becomes National Camp Fire president.

1962

A new program level, "Junior Hi" in which 12 and 13 year old girls explore new interests as a group and as individuals, is created. The program name will later change to "Discovery" with the inclusion of boys.

The WoHeLo Medallion becomes Camp Fire's highest achievement and honor. The Medallion is named for Camp Fire's watchword "WoHeLo" which stands for work, health and love.

1950-70 Camp Fire Logo1963

The council's offices move to 4001 West Rosedale Street, the access road for the west freeway. This building was later sold to a developer who moved it to Acton (near Camp El Tesoro). It is still being used as an office building.

1961

The name of the council was changed to Fort Worth and Tarrant County Council of Camp Fire

1960

1960 she cares projectCamp Fire celebrates its 50th anniversary with the "She Cares...Do You" program. During the project, Camp Fire plants more than 2 million trees, builds 13,000 bird houses and completes several other conservation oriented tasks. In honor of the anniversary, a commemorative stamp is issued and a major conservation effort is launched.

 


1950s

1958

1957 Elvis

Ms. Louisa Haun became the 7th executive director of the First Texas Council.

1957

Elvis Presley bought 20 boxes of Camp Fire Candy during the filming of "Loving You."

1953

The bridge at Camp El Tesoro over Fall Creek was constructed. It washed out and was re-built three additional times: 1966, 1979 and 1991.

1953 El Tesoro swinging bridge

1951

Brown & Haley became the first candy supplier to the national organization - previously, Camp Fire Girls sold doughnuts, pencils, fruitcakes and magazine subscriptions.

 


 

1940s

1948 El Tesoro Louise Farger

1949

The First Texas Council requested that the United Fund (now United Way) financially support club programs for African-American girls.


1948

American Camping Association establishes a standards program for accredited camps. Camp El Tesoro becomes one of the first accredited camps in Texas.

1945 donut sale1945

Thirty Camp Fire groups in Fort Worth sold 12,455 doughnuts. The Camp Fire Girl selling the most doughnuts was crowned "Doughnut Queen" and the prize was two weeks at camp.

Camp El Tesoro grew with the purchase of 131 acres.


1944

Members of the Okizu group presented the National Camp Fire Girls executive director with six war bonds. This was in support of the national "Pledge-A-Plane" campaign to raise enough money in the name of Camp Fire Girls to build an ambulance plane that cost $110,000.

1944 war bonds sales

1943

National Camp Fire issued its first inclusive policy stating, "Camp Fire must strive to give girls of all minority groups an opportunity to participate fully."

1941

The First Texas Council began the movement in Texas for youth to collect aluminum for the World War II effort, collecting 200 pounds.

1940 Camp Fire Logo1940

The First Texas Council was among the first Camp Fire Councils in the nation to organize a system of districts; among the first was the West District, whose chairman was Mrs. Charles F. Bedford.

Girls had to wear skirts at most camping functions.

 


 

1930s

1939 Shirley Temple1939

Fort Worth's original Blue Bird groups were established.

El Tesoro's counselors made $1 per week.

Shirley Temple joined Camp Fire Girls.


1934

The council purchased 90 acres on the Brazos River near Granbury for $12 an acre - Camp El Tesoro. The purchase was made in cash from the sale of doughnuts. Ruth Teichman was Camp El Tesoro's first camp director. She oversees 12 staff and 60 campers.

1934 El Tesoro

Total budget for the council was $4,397.

1932

Camp Fire was instrumental in the creation of the Rice Krispy Treat, which was developed as a Camp Fire Girls fundraising item by an employee of Kellogg's Home Economics Department.

 


 

1920s

1922

The Civitan Club funds the building of a 2-story lodge on two acres of land with 250 feet of frontage on Lake Worth leased at no cost from the City of Fort Worth, which becomes the council's first camp, Camp Civitan. Two weeks at camp is $8.

W.T. Ladd was elected as the first known president of the First Texas Council, and Lucia Walker was selected as the council's first executive director. The council's first offices were located in the 211 Majestic Building in downtown Fort Worth.

The council became a charter member of the United Fund, which became the Community Chest in 1952 and was renamed United Way in 1973.

 


 

1915 Camp Fire Logo1910s

1919

A charter for the First Texas Council, the first Camp Fire council in Texas, was received from National Camp Fire Girls.

1918

First local Camp Fire council is formed in Kansas City, Missouri.

1914 first fort worth club1914

The first Camp Fire groups in Fort Worth were organized by Mrs. T.D. Pace.

1913

National Camp Fire officially adopted "Blue Bird" for groups of girls ages 9-10 and offers exploration of ideas and creative play built around family and community life.

1912

Camp Fire Girls in incorporated in Washington, D.C. as a national agency.

1910Luther & Charlotte Gulick

Camp Fire founded by Luther Gulick, M.D. and his wife, Charlotte in Maine, as the first nonsectarian organization for girls in the United States. First meeting of Camp Fire Girls are held in Vermont. Name "Camp Fire" is chosen because campfires were the origin of the first communities and domestic life.