Integral to the structure of a Camp Fern camper's life is his or her tribe; four-week campers (including the 2-week campers within the 4-week session) are initiated into one of two tribes. Boys may be Caddo or Tejas; girls, Bena or Owaisso. Each tribe has secret grounds, songs, and sponsors.
Two senior campers are chosen by their tribe members as Chief and Firemaker to lead and inspire their tribe members during Field Days, War Canoe Races, the Horse Show, and other tournaments.
The culmination of this friendly competition is Banquet Night, when a plaque honoring the summer's winning tribe is unveiled.
Fern's tribal competition allows campers to strive towards their personal best both for themselves and for their tribe, and teaches campers to temper wins and losses with sportsmanlike grace.
Fern's 1 and 2 week coed campers are initiated into the Apache or Cherokee tribe.
While their competition is less involved, it is still aimed at teaching the value of sportsmanship, teamwork, and working towards a goal.