The board of directors for the Greater Dayton Camp Fire has voted to to dissolve the more than half-century-old organization for area youth due to the loss of funding from Montgomery County, which accounted for 80 percent of its budget.
Founded in 1910 as the country’s first nonsectarian and multicultural organization for girls, its Dayton council was incorporated in 1946.
Renamed Camp Fire Boys and Girls in 1976 and later the Camp Fire USA Greater Dayton Area Council, it offered programs including after-school activities and summer day camps for boys and girls.
The not-for-profit organization had offices in Huber Heights. Its 2011 federal tax return, the latest publicly available, reported total expenses of almost $248,000 and a fund balance of $307,330.
The Montgomery County Commission in December 2010 amended a contract with Camp Fire USA through June 30, 2011 for a total of $311,330. The funding came through the county Department of Job and Family Services for support services.
Executive director Keith Harrison said the organization has served “thousands of Miami Valley youth over the years,” but membership dwindled from about 75 to only 25 in after-school programs over the past year.
“Most of our activities were free to the public and 95 percent of those we served were in low-income families. It’s a sad day,” Harrison said.
The Greater Dayton Camp Fire council will dissolve July 31, but all scheduled summer activities have already been cancelled.
Harrison said families are being referred to other organizations and church groups.
He said the county cuts “trickled down from the state. The county had to make choices. With so many needs, including homelessness, food programs, the frail and elderly, it had to look at programs that served the most youth.”
Dayton Camp Fire board president Susan Gunnell said the organization formulated a strategic plan with the assistance of Wright State University about a year ago, “but you need funding to go after the kinds of grants that could have kept us going and attracted more kids. As a board, we have wrestled with this. There comes a point in time when you can see that you aren’t going to be able to pay the staff.”
During its peak, it served children in Champaign, Clark, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties.