To the Girl and Boy, Scouting IS Camping

Summer resident camp registration began last week at Nation’s Capital, as thousands of parents signed in to the online system.  Hundreds of girls will make their first pilgrimage to Camp May Flather, Potomac Woods, Winona, and Coles Trip this summer,  following in the footsteps of their sisters, mothers, and grandmothers.

Recently I found a wonderful GSUSA statement on the value of camping tucked away in one of our Rockwood history boxes and this seems a good time to share it:

Camping, the chance to live away from home, in the out-of-doors, with its offer of primitive life and woodland adventure, is part of the dream of every girl who becomes a Girl Scout … the tent, the campfire and all those things connected with the romantic adventure of simple living in the out-of-doors, continue to lure American children ‘to the camps of known desire and proven delight.’

Scouting’s great appeal to girls and boys — and leaders too — is in its promise of outdoor adventure. It is this assurance that those who ‘come along with us’ will have many opportunities for camping and hiking that has attracted and will continue to attract young people to Scouting. None of the other interesting and worthwhile things that Scouts may do have this paramount importance of camping. To the girl and boy, Scouting IS camping.

This has been true since the beginning of the movement. In his earliest writings, Baden-Powell made it very clear that one of Scouting’s important aims was to give young people abundant opportunities to go camping. He saw the camp situation as the troop leaders’ greatest opportunity to train young people in Scouting.

… The camp experience should not be something separate and apart from the troop’s other activities. Rather, it should be a continuation, and perhaps the most important part, of the troop’s year-round program. The troops that are able to progress through camping experiences of increasing interest and difficulty, last longer and do the most effective work. It is the camping troop that girls flock to join.

The statement comes from Guideline 5B of the 1959 GSUSA Council Administrative Series, authored by Julian Harris Salomon.  Trained as a landscape architect, Mr. Salomon designed the grounds and camp sites at Rockwood, the Macy Center, even Camp David. He worked for the National Park Service and later was property manager for GSUSA.  Mr. Salomon testified in the dispute over the proposed sale of Rockwood in 1981 (and I hope to get a copy of his deposition one day). His efforts to preserve Rockwood for future Girl Scouts were recognized by naming one of the Manor House rooms in his honor in 1987.

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