Keenie Lou Wylie’s Camp Fire Vest

Lubbock youth was an active member of Camp Fire Girls

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Keenie Lou Wylie designed and wore this ceremonial vest as an active Camp Fire Girl in Lubbock in the 1950s. As part of the Ao wa ki ya group, Wylie participated in activities that taught her home, health, craft, nature, business, and citizenship skills. Keenie’s younger sister Linda was also a Camp Fire Girl in the early 1960s. Their mother, Mary Francis Wylie, had been a Camp Fire Girl in Dallas in the 1930s and she remained active as a board member for the Lubbock council while her daughters participated.

Camp Fire Girls was founded in 1910 in Maine as a group that would nurture the personal worth of girls so they could realize their greatest potential as women. Officially chartered in 1912, America’s first nonsectarian organization for girls quickly spread throughout the nation. As early as 1912, groups were organized in Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Houston with clubs soon forming in other towns. The Lubbock council to which the Wylie family belonged was founded in 1929.

When Camp Fire began in 1910, it borrowed heavily from Native American imagery, symbolism, and ritual for its ceremonies, uniforms, and programs. At the time, an overly romanticized and simplified view of American Indian cultures was prevalent. The use of imagery and ideals, while problematic by today’s standards, was intended to be complimentary and respectful. Girls were encouraged to create their own Camp Fire name and create a symbolgram that would represent them.

Keenie Wylie designed and planned her symbolgram in her memory notebook, then made it into a felt emblem that she attached to the back of her vest. Her patch included a red heart that rules over all, yellow wings for adventure, and green mountains for climbing higher.

Today, Camp Fire is a co-ed group committed to inclusivity. Its councils in Texas bring together boys, girls, and families of all backgrounds through one organization, where they learn to play together, work together, and appreciate their similarities and differences in positive ways.

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Keenie Lou Wylie’s Camp Fire Vest Artifact from Lubbock
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