Alumni Reunion 2015!

kilowan collage

A date has been set for a 2015 Kilowan Reunion! 

Mark your calendars on May 23rd for a gathering at Kilowan.  It sounds like cabin tours, hiking, and picnic lunches are all on the schedule.

See the Facebook invite for all the details and to RSVP to the organizers.

Click here for the Facebook invite.




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Willamette Council Closes, Kilowan Sold

The following article was originally published in the Statesman Journal ( in August 2013.

Local Camp Fire chapter closes

Move affects children in six local counties

Camp Kilowan
FILE – Campers at Camp Kilowan cook hot dogs over a campfire in 1998. The camp was operated in Polk County by the Willamette Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls. After almost 70 years, Camp Fire USA Willamette Council has closed. / Copyright 1998 Salem Statesman Journal
Written by
Justin Much
Statesman Journal

After almost seven decades, the Camp Fire USA Willamette Council has closed.

The official end was Wednesday, said Sandra Florip, the council’s executive director.

Formed in 1944, the Willamette Council was part of the National Camp Fire group, which was founded in 1910 as Campfire Girls.

The group became a co-educational program in 1980 and was known as Campfire Boys and Girls. The name changed again in 2001 to Campfire USA. The national group continues operating.

The Willamette Council’s area included Marion, Polk, Linn, Benton, Lincoln and Yamhill counties, and in the past year 7,789 youth participated in council programs, down from 8,623 participants the previous year.

“Over the last nearly 14 years the Willamette Council served over 100,000 youth in our programs,” said Florip, who itemized the services as resident and day camp, camp rental groups, clubs, and after-school enrichment programs.

She said at the time of the council closure, no children were directly involved.

“We closed down programs prior to closing the offices, so there are no current youth involved in programs,” Florip said. “They ran during the school calendar year.”

Reasons cited for the local chapter’s closure boil down to finances.

“Willamette Council was closed due to the downturn in the economic support of the council,” said Danny Bisgaard, former chair of the Willamette Council board.

Florip said much of the council’s focus was centered on after-school enrichment programs in places such as local schools, YMCAs, libraries and the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Those included full kitchen and no-cook cooking classes, community gardens, mousetrap race cars, simple science, charcoal and watercolor art, arts and crafts, beading, jewelry making and babysitting courses.

Florip said the council felt the same pinch that other nonprofits have over the past decade. She noted that at one time it had a staff of 18. That count was down to three at the time of its closure.

“Many smaller nonprofits were hit hard after 9/11, as funding priorities were adjusted,” she said.

She also noted that competition for children’s activities is pretty strong around Marion and Polk counties, the core of the Willamette Council’s service area.

Willamette Council also owned Camp Kilowan near Falls City, which was recently sold to another, undisclosed nonprofit group with residual proceeds going to National Camp Fire in Kansas City. or (503) 399-6736, cell (503) 508-8157 or follow at


Source: Statesman Journal,

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Archived Article

 The following article was originally published in the Polk County Itemizer-Observer ( in April 2002.

Camp Kilowan

Summer camp program enters 21st century

Summer camp in Polk County still means canoeing and other outdoor activities, but as Camp Kilowan near Falls City enters the next millennium, the nature of summer camp is changing.Photo By Daniel Hurst

Summer camp in Polk County still means canoeing and other outdoor activities, but as Camp Kilowan near Falls City enters the next millennium, the nature of summer camp is changing.

Justin Carinci

April 30, 2002

FALLS CITY — Justine Jones still remembers the magical place she spent part of her summers almost 60 years ago.

Open air church services in a fern glade, swimming lessons in lake Kiloqua, eating around the lodge’s fireplace on rainy mornings.

And, of course, the camp fires.

Jones was a Camp Fire Girl. Her organization, now Camp Fire USA, has changed with the times.

But the place — Camp Kilowan — retains its magic.

Melissa Thiel directs outdoor programs for Camp Fire USA’s regional council.

“So many people in this area have been touched by Camp Kilowan in some shape or form.

Kilowan has been a part of Camp Fire since the 1930s.

That history means people recognize the organization.

It also helps older perceptions of Camp Fire USA stick around.

Founded in 1910, Camp Fire Girls gave girls opportunities boys had enjoyed in Boy Scouts.

Though Camp Fire Girls added boys in the 1970s, the organization didn’t change much over those years, said Herb Price, the council’s executive director.

While children’s worlds grew — with access to technology, transportation, opportunity and greater independence — Camp Fire had to adapt.

“Kids are much more savvy then they were in 1910,” Price said.

“Our programs today are more relevant and based on their interests.”

That means addressing issues like peer pressure and self-reliance.

In the process, the new Camp Fire has become a more welcoming organization. While Boy Scouts has defended its controversial policies of discrimination, Camp Fire hiked a different path.

“We’re all-inclusive,” Thiel said. “We just ask that you fit with the age range.

“And even then, some younger siblings tag along.”

Blending ages and sexes lightens the strain on busy parents, Thiel said. “Your kindergartner and third-grader can be in the same club.

“It’s a one-stop place to volunteer.”

Besides that practical aspect, boys and girls learn the importance of working together from the start. Whether it’s archery, building fires or knitting lanyards, all children can learn.

“Nothing is ruled out until you yourself rule it out,” Thiel said.

Thiel has focused on projects campers can make and take home, things like leather working and candle dipping along with science and engineering activities.

For all the new projects, summer campers can still take in the same rustic beauty Justine Jones saw at Camp Kilowan.

Teal Creek cuts across the 483-acres property, alive with tall firs and alders. Campers can peek at nearby beaver ponds.

They still hike alongside the mossy creek trails, canoe, sing songs and roast marshmallows around campfires. Still sleep under the same stars.

But today, campers pass up Lake Kiloqua for a swimming pool. Not that Jones will complain.

“There were no pools then, just a big like with swimming instructors. The lake was murky, but we learned to swim and dive.”

Nostalgia tints Jones’ voice even when she remembers the food, which she diplomatically called “healthy.”

With sugar limited by World War II rationing, camp staff stewed fruits to sweeten breakfasts. “I remember those prunes.

“The oatmeal was warm, and you were pretty cold. But we had an awful lot of prunes.”


Source: Polk County Itemizer-Observer,

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Reunion 2011

Do you want to visit Kilowan?  Want another opportunity to hike the trails, sing songs around the camp fire, and eat a meal in Teal Lodge?  So do we!  That’s why we’re trying to organize a reunion.

More information to come as details are ironed out.

Please email if you’re interested in helping to organize or have any suggestions regarding the reunion planning.

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Cookies, Cookies
Listen while we sing to you!
Cookies, Cookies
You’re a part of Camp Fire too!
Anyone can make a bed,
Anyone can sweep.
But it takes our cookies to make us things to eat
So, cookies, cookies!
Listen while we sing to you.

We thank you very kindly for the good, good food.
Oh, we thank you very kindly for the good, good food.
Yeah, we thank you very kindly for the good, good food.
We thank you very kindly for the good, good, food!

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Jell-O Song

Oh, the big red letters stand for the Jell-O family.
Oh, the big red letters stand for the Jell-O family.
It’s Jell-O! yum, yum, yum
Jell-O pudding! yum, yum, yum
Jell-O tapioca!
Better try all three!

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Mountain Dew

(Chorus) Oh they call it that good old mountain dew
And them that refuse it are few (mighty few)
I’ll hush up my mug if you fill up my jug
With that good old mountain dew

My brother Bill
Has a still on the hill
Where he runs off a gallon or two
The buzzards in the sky
Got so drunk they cannot fly
Just from sipping that good old mountain dew


My brother Mort
He’s sawed off and short
Stands about four foot two
But he thinks he’s a giant
When you give him a pint
Of that good old mountain dew


We’re mourning for Fred
We took him for dead,
Said that he couldn’t pull through.
But he came back to life
When we traded his wife
For a pint of that good old mountain dew.


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