My Times as a Camp Fire Leader @MarilynMeredith

Marilyn Meredith, who writes the RBPD mystery series as F.M. Meredith, is the author of over 40 published books. She once lived in a small beach town much like Rocky Bluff, and has many relatives and friends in law enforcement.





And she’s a regular on these blogs:

2nd and 4th Tuesday:

4th Monday of the month:

This topic was chosen for me and I am happy to oblige. For ten years I was the leader of a Blue Bird group, Camp Fire Girls, and then Horizon Club.

My daughter was in the Blue Bird group, and the leader wanted someone to take over, no one volunteered, and though I felt inadequate, I agreed to do it. At the time there were only about 8 girls in the group. Some stayed with me for the whole ten years.

Camp Fire Girls About 5th Grade

From the beginning, we sold Camp Fire candy every year. The girls were extremely competitive about who could sell the most boxes.

My daughter reminded me of “kidnap” breakfasts. I and other moms picked girls up at their homes, waking them up and hauling them off to a restaurant dressed as they were.

We did a lot of camping in the mountains and at the beach. Together, we became experts at cooking outdoors—including a turkey buried in the sand. (Turned out great!) As the girls got older (high school), we back packed in the wilderness. I’d never back packed before. I got some tips from some Boy Scouts I knew and learned the rest right along with the girls. At the time we were 20 strong.

We went on many trips: to Pacific Ocean Park, to Hollywood to see free TV shows, San Diego for a big Horizon Club convention and much more.

We began planning a bus trip to the Grand Canyon for the girls’ senior year. Two years ahead of time, I arranged for a Greyhound bus, the cost $1000. Of course this meant we had to earn a lot of money. We collected Blue Chip and S & H Green stamps and turned them in for cash. We had bake sales. But our most ambitious efforts were putting on two musicals. The first was a spin-off of Peter Pan. One of the girls who sang in it became a back-up singer for Barry Manilow.  The play that was the most fun was based on the soap opera Dark Shadows which was popular at the time. The closing song was “Let the Sunshine In.” (And yes, I wrote both plays.)

I should point out that all of my girls came from poor families. Many of them had never been out of Ventura county until I started hauling them around. We lived in a racially mixed neighborhood and our group was also racially mixed. The girls came from three different high schools.

Camp Fire Girls Now

We did get some financial help from a women’s group, and by the time our trip rolled around, I felt like we had enough money. Another Horizon Club joined us as we needed 40 people on the bus. Besides the other leader and myself, we had two young adult women as volunteers. Our first stop was the Gene Pumping Station where the water starts from the Colorado River to Los Angeles. We were fed and housed for free, all we had to do was watch a movie about the building of Hoover Dam.

Then on to the Grand Canyon. We’d made arrangements for our housing there and spent two full days sight-seeing. The bus driver was so generous to us. Some of the kids hiked down the canyon, and the bus driver took the others on a tour to various locations.

From there we went for one night in Las Vegas. We stayed in small groups in the homes of other Horizon Girls. Everyone did different activities.

Then it was home. On the way the bus driver suggested that he and I start a company that would take rich girls on similar trips. My answer was “No way, these girls respect me because we’ve been together for so long.”

Our last event before graduation was a boy-girl party at our home. Many of the boys were already out of school, working or in college. I chose two of the boyfriends to be like “chaperones” so I didn’t have to interfere. They took their jobs seriously and the party was a success with no problems.

We’ve had two Camp Fire reunions in the past and the mothers who helped me came as well as some of the girls. I’m still in touch on Facebook with several of the girls—who are all in their 60s. Some are even fans of my books.

Looking back, I wonder how I was so brave to do the things we did. One of the gals, who now is an in-law, told me I taught her not to be afraid to try new things.

It was a most rewarding time of my life—and I have great memories of those days and my girls.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Blurb: The discovery of a skeleton, a welfare check on a senior citizen, and a wildfire challenge the Rocky Bluff P.D.

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