Peninsula's Camp Fire council seeks help to stay alive
Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Camp Fire Juan de Fuca Council Board Member Linda Smith, of Port Angeles, with her granddaughters Gracelyn Smith, 10, and Domiana Badger, 6, who are both Camp Fire members, at the Camp Fire cabin at Webster Park.
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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“Our national office has dissolved our operational charter, like they have many small councils nationwide, and we are currently being considered by absorption by a large council located in Everett,” Michelle Forsman, interim executive director of the Camp Fire Juan de Fuca Council, said in a letter sent to community members.
Camp Fire is a 103-year-old coed children's scouting organization that serves children ages 5-17. It offers after-school programs, outdoor and environmental camps, and teen service projects.
The Juan de Fuca Council, which managed programs in Clallam and Jefferson counties, already has been removed from the national organization's website along with other small councils dissolved or ordered to be absorbed into larger councils.
About 40 boys and girls are served by the Juan de Fuca Council's activities at the Camp Fire clubhouse at 619 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles' Webster Park. There are about 18 Camp Fire members in Forks, with another 10 to 12 on a waiting list; and there is a list of Sequim children who want to join but don't yet have troops, according to Linda Smith, a member of the council's board.
Although Jefferson County was a part of the Juan de Fuca Council, there have been no Camp Fire troops registered there in the past two years, Smith said.
An effort to restart the program with new volunteers in Jefferson County, to organize troops in Sequim and to recruit new members for existing troops in Port Angeles and Forks have screeched to a halt as volunteers fight for the program's life.
“We haven't been able to get notices to the schools. We can't do anything,” Smith said.
Proof of community support in the form of $50,000 in pledges is needed from Peninsula businesses and individuals before the Camp Fire Snohomish Council in Everett will accept the local council under its umbrella, she said.
Snohomish cannot afford to support the Peninsula programs, so the former small council has to be able to prove that the community can and is willing to support children's activities with cash donations and volunteers, Smith said.
Snohomish is expected to announce its decision in October, she said.
Smith said if the council is not able to gain the $50,000 in pledges, the Webster Park clubhouse will revert to the city of Port Angeles, and the troops will dissolve.
Camp Fire Girls of America was founded in 1910 by Luther and Charlotte Gulick, changed its name to Camp Fire USA when it opened to boys in 1975, then shortened the name to Camp Fire in 2012.
Pledges of volunteer hours and future donations — but no actual money — should be sent to the Camp Fire Juan de Fuca at P.O. Box 332, Port Angeles, WA 98362; emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; or phoned to 360-457-8442 for a council member to pick up a letter.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 17. 2013 5:51PM