Camp Fire Girls USA on the painting table

My prototype conversions into Camp Fire Girls USA are now painted, sat on the painting table awaiting a dry day for the finishing touches of a gloss spray varnish.

They are based on conversion of a metal Boy Scout figure LBB30 from the Shiny Toy Soldiers / Little Britain 42mm range from Spencer Smith Miniatures. These are intended for use as a team or patrols in my DMZ Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop project.

Uniform Research

An unusual bit of uniform research was required to get to this stage ranging from Howard Chandler Christy prints and press photos in 1920s Everygirl’s Magazine to researching African American Camp Fire Girls and YWCA Reserves.

The colour print of Howard Chandler Christy’s Camp Fire Girl portrait gives a useful clue to the colour scheme of 1910s to 1930s Camp Fire Girls uniforms:


Conversion Plans

Eventually I got to the stage of sketching out conversion plans for altering the Boy Scout figure with file, PVA and tissue paper (as I cannot use Milliput, Green Stuff or epoxy resin due to a household allergy.)

These photos below are where I was at during the tissue paper stage, after some delicate filing to remove belt and hat details, then building up and adding knickerbocker bloomers or knee length skirts, long hair and softer hat brims.

The original LBB30 Boy Scout figure (left) and previous Girl Scout conversions (right) are shown for reference.

The next stage was painting using a mixture of gloss and matt acrylic Revell Aquacolor paints. The matt colours will shiny up and blend in once sprayed with gloss varnish.

The overall stylistic aim is to paint them in a simple Britain’s ‘shiny toy soldier’ gloss style, rather than matt realism with wash and shadow.

Camping outdoors – Variations on the red, white and blue uniform.
Named figures 1 to 4
1. Ruth (From Ruth Stephens, model for the Christy poster)
2. Edith (from Edith Kempthorne, early Camp Fire Girls organiser)
3. Charlotte (from Charlotte Gulick, cofounder Of Camp Fire Girls)
4 Camille (from hurdler Camille Sabie)

They are deliberately not uniform. Opinions varied amongst Camp Fire leaders in Britain and in the USA over whether a uniform was required at all, especially amongst poorer Camp Fire Girls from deprived districts and recession times.

The white Middy Top and Blue skirt seemed to be already popular as a school or sports uniform anyway.

A couple of my Camp Fire Girls wear white Keds sports athletic shoes, a bit like early Converse All Stars.

I chose as my main colour scheme the smart red white and blue of the American flag, deliberately echoed in the red necktie, blue skirt and white Middy Top or blouse of the WW1 era Camp Fire Girls USA known as “Minute Girls“.

“The addition of the red tie makes a patriotic uniform of it”; previously neck ties were dark blue, black or orange. 1917 Handbook

Image source : Camp Fire Girls Handblock with War program 1917

This red, white and blue Minute Girls patriotic uniform survived in various guises well into the post WW2 era.

Image Source below: USA, 1962 Handbook. Still not desegregated at least on the front cover!

Chatelain: “African-American girls also participated in Camp Fire’s World War I era auxiliary group, named the Minute Girls.” Chatelain Phd thesis, P.208

Naming the figures

My Scouting Wide Games patrols or teams have numbers from 1 to 8 on the base for personalised gaming purposes. I have tried to make these Camp Fire Girls figures individuals, so maybe they deserve suitable names culled from uniform and history research.

The African American Camp Fire Girls –

1. Marcia (from Professor Marcia Chatelain, author of South Side Girls)

2. Meesh (from the family nickname for Michelle Obama, a Chicago South Side Girl)

I listened to Becoming, the audiobook autobiography read by Michelle Obama herself whilst I painted these figures.

3. Norma (from Norma Royal, former Camp Fire Girl Of Fort Worth, interviewed on YouTube)

4. Irene

And for future four African American Camp Fire Girls to make up the full patrol of 8?

5. Blanche

Names – Based on “black women civic leaders Irene McCoy Gaines, [Chicago suffragist] Irene Goins, and Blanche King, who organized countless benefits and campaigns to raise funds to build cabins in the black resort town of Idlewild, Michigan, so their Camp Fire Girls could enjoy the great outdoors without fear of harassment or intimidation.”

6. Ruth

7. Lenora

Names based on Chicago Defender newspaper … brief news features lauding Camp Fire standouts like Ruth Reese and Lenora Grady.

8. Ida? (after Ida B. Wells Barnett)

Camp Fire! Old flat metal piece, picked up sometime.

Not sure if the Camp Fire Girls used Scout trek carts … or pack mules?

One of my BP Empire Scouts as a Boy Scouts Of America figure.

Plans for the next Camp Fire Girls patrols?

Some of the next half patrols will be a little different, a little more like the first four motley dressed white American Camp Fire Girls.

On my next batch, the scout scarf knot needs flattening more by filing, although it does add to the feminine curves of this otherwise stout boyish figure.

Future figures will have more belt details filed off or flattened and obscured by more tissue paper to create more of the loose Middy Top look.

Blanket Rolls need adding to some of the new figures.

Originally the African American Camp Fire Girls had several different lighter and darker skin tones, which I accidentally retouched as dark. Some of the lighter skin tones could pass as Native American / Mexican Camp Fire Girls.

These black neck tie figures could double up as British Camp Fire Girls?

Below British Camp Fire Girls Handbook 1925 written by Margaret Ann Backhouse – a tussore brown uniform.

The similar passage in the Camp Fire Girls Handbook c.1912

Blog posted by Mark Man Of TIN, 1970s British Cub Scout (Bronze Arrow, retired) 30 May 2022

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