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Weavery door The history of Camp Namanu really begins with the formation of the national Camp Fire Girls organization. In 1910, on the East Coast several different people began to realize that girls needed a club program similar to the Boy Scouts of America. This group included Dr. and Mrs. Luther Gulick who were operating a summer camp for girls in Maine, and Mrs. Charles H. Farnsworth, a school headmistress from Thetford, Vermont, who was also experimenting with a summer camp of her own. All those involved were forward-thinking professionals involved in education and recreation for youth and they wanted girls to have an opportunity to learn leadership skills and responsibility and to enjoy the outdoors.

In March of 1913, largely through the initiative of Miss Jessie Millard of the Library Association, Mrs. Ralph W. Wilbur formed the first circle of Camp Fire Girls in Portland. This was quickly followed by groups led by Mrs. George March, Miss Nottingham, Mrs. Gillespie, Mrs. Louis Girlinger and others. In 1914, Miss Mitchell of the YWCA became the first president of the Guardians Association and that summer a camp was established at Rivera on the west bank of the Willamette River, near the present site of Dunthorpe.

Mrs. Elizabeth White (left) visiting with Edith Kempthorne
The Portland Council was nationally chartered in 1921 with Mrs. Elizabeth White as the first paid Executive Director. That summer the girls camped about a quarter mile upstream from Baker's Bridge on the south shore of the Clackamas River near Carver, Oregon. The property, which was located at the mouth of Clear Creek, was loaned to Camp Fire by Mr. C.S. Jackson and his wife Maria. Campers were also allowed the use of the Jackson's nearby swimming hole. A dozen tents were pitched in a small meadow for three weeks and benches were borrowed from the Portland Parks.

In 1923, Camp Namanu was moved to Eagle Creek at the present site of Eagle Fern Park near Estacada. Again army tents were pitched in a clearing and for four weeks girls enjoyed swimming, singing and learning outdoor skills. To the other three honors was added the Name Honor awarded to campers who could name everyone in camp. Sadly, the Eagle Creek site was flooded by the rain-swollen creek, and so was unsuitable for a permanent camping location.

The the fall of 1923, the Portland Council hired a new Executive Director, Miss Eathel Moore. One of her first assignments was to assist in finding a permanent home for Camp Namanu.

Full-unabridged text of this chapter is available in the 75th Anniversary Book which is for sale at the Camp Fire USA Portland Metro Council's office in Portland.
©1998 Reprinting only with written permission of Camp Fire USA Portland Metro Council.

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