Legend has it that the muddled beginnings of the Camp Fire Girls came from the mixing pot girls club called the Girl Pioneers of America (GPA), and then further back to a theater summer club in Vermont. The girls of the theater troupe called themselves Camp Fire Girls and they were working on celebrating the 150 anniversary pageant of the village. Now their website takes it back even further, to 1907.
The history has certainly been sanitized through the years.
Lost in all the revisions is that the Gulicks and others didn't like the direction that this new girl group created by bunch of adults in New York City. So they ditched it and retreated to Maine and formally created their own using their beloved term "Camp Fire Girls."
So what happened with this crafted girls club called the Girl Pioneers of America (GPA)? Well, they truly were created from the thoughts, ideas and memberships of three girls groups already going; Girl Guides (Spokane, WA), Girl Scouts of America (Des Moines, IA) - not to be confused with the Girl Scout of the United States of America (GSUSA) that survives today, and Camp Fire Girls, which as stated above, took their "ball" and went home.
The GPA notes in the history of their organization in the 1923 official manual that they got their foundation and plan formed in 1910, and their first meeting was on February 8, 1912 in Flushing, NY.
Who was the "founder" of GPA? Good question. It's tough to decided when something is created by a committee. At first, Mrs. Ernest Thompson Seton looked poised to be remembered as founder, but the official manual lists Lina Beard as the founder. Yet, when Lina's sister Adelia Beard died, she was noted as the founder/co-founder. Murky history at best.
The official manual of the Girl Pioneers of America, fourth edition, 1923.
The uniform was khaki, likely twill - a completely common fabric for outdoorsy girl groups at the time. Even the styling is similar, middy styled blouse with skirt, red triangular tie, felt hat with a red band and bloomers for camp wear.
Girl Pioneers of America Merit Badges:
Animals: Mary Allerton Badge
Agriculture: Catherine Carver Badge
Art: Martha Jefferson Badge
Attendance: Priscilla Alden Badge
Birdcraft: Desire Minter Badge
Business: Margaret Brent Badge
Camping: Mary Moore Badge
National Civics: Martha Washington Badge
Civics: Anne Hutchinson Badges
Cooking: Mary Brewster Badge
Entertainment: Anne Bailey Badge
Fish: Polly Crockett Badge
First Aid: Clara Barton Badge
Five Senses (Sight): Mary Bartlett Badge
Five Senses (Hearing): Barbara Fritche Badge
Five Senses (Tasting): Elizabeth Tilley Badge
Five Senses (Smelling): Eliza Wilkinson Badge
Five Senses (Touching): Alice Bradford Badge
Handicraft: Nancy Lincoln Badge
Home Crafts: Elizabeth Kenton Badge
Health: Catherine Sevier Badge
Invalid Nursing: Barbara Standish Badge
Music: Elizabeth Winslow Badge
Pioneering: Mary Chilton Badge
Patriotism: Molly Pitcher Badge
Resourcefulness: Betsy Ross Badge
Sports and Games: Rebecca Boone Badge
Badges were all named after women and were worn on the right sleeve above the elbow.
early newspaper header on the youth clubs page
Although at one point the Girl Pioneers of America claimed 50,000 memberships, it never really gained any traction in the busy "girl club" world. By the 1920's mentions of the GPA are thin, the last one being in 1928.