Life at Camp Rockwood

Lately I have been reading monthly reports from the directors of Rockwood, the former Girl Scout camp outside Washington DC.

The monthly reports run about five pages each and provide statistics describing the groups using the camp in a particular month.

Many of the included items are routine and rather boring–I’ve learned more than I probably need to about septic systems.

But mixed in with the monotony are some real gems. Including these:

RFK: Come see my house!

Robert F. Kennedy sits on the front steps of his home, Hickory Hill
https://bobbykennedy.tumblr.com

A group of Senior Girl Scouts in perfect uniform is a beautiful sight to behold and Mr. Robert Kennedy evidently thought so too. The girls were standing on the roadside in front of Mr. Kennedy’s home waiting for their stalled bus to be repaired when Mr. Kennedy drove to the main road. He stopped his car—greeted the girls and shook hands with many of them—asked where they were from and then invited them into his home for a tour. He apologized because his wife was not there and he had to go on to his work, but left them with a maid to act as a tour guide. Those girls are convinced that their uniforms helped them to have this experience. (July 1964)

An impromptu recording session

Recently a staff member began to play a tape recording made at Shadowbrook All States encampment. This recording was of the favorite songs of the campers. Gradually the Manor House Lobby and stair steps filled with girls and the girls began to sing with the record. Then they, too, made recordings. Two fathers and a bus driver joined in with the fun. One father acted as sound engineer and the other held the microphone. Forty of the sixty girls in camp attended the impromptu sing. (September 1963)

Not without our leader

A leader, as she got off the bus, said to the staff member standing nearby—“Watch those girls. They are trying to hide my  wheel chair as they take it off the bus. They think that I do not know  that they have it here. I did not realize that I had muscular  dystrophy when  we started planning this trip three years ago. When I refused to go on this long planned adventure they would have none of it and then, when I said I would stay on the bus and rest as they went sightseeing they did not want that either. I dislike holding them back and tiring them with pushing my chair, but-no one  could resist them. They even have a secret kaper chart scheduling aides to help me. They don’t  know that I know about that too.” What a wonderful troop of Seniors that group was! Mature, capable, dependable, and determined to keep their leader from becoming tired and frustrated. (July 1964)

Ready for the Rascal

For two days in succession a tent was raided and the contents of suitcases thrown about. We feared that neighborhood boys were up to mischief. On the third day members of the staff took turns sitting quietly in the unit doing office work. The vandal was found and identified. It was one of those attractive and annoying rascals-a raccoon. Our campers enjoy hearing about their escapades. The owners of the raided suitcases now know that we mean it when we say that food should be kept in covered containers. 

Girl Scout postcard, 1946

This happened the third week of August.  Another troop from the same city arrived the fourth week of the month and were to live in the same unit. One girl immediately asked to be placed in the tent visited by the raccoons because she had a camera with a flash attachment. (August 1963)

The Expert

The Caretaker’s granddaughter came for a Brownie Holiday with her troop. They stayed at Carolyn Cottage and she immediately claimed a top bunk. This troop had few questions to ask since the granddaughter had already furnished all the necessary information. (May 1961)

Brownies on Bunk Beds, 1954

Do you have a Rockwood story? Please let me know.

I have already heard from that confident Brownie, who wanted to share her version of that weekend!

©2019 Ann Robertson

2 thoughts on “Life at Camp Rockwood

  1. About a dozen years ago, my husband had a conversation in DC, and my mom and I tagged along. With our free time we ended up at Rockwood. They were so gracious, and let us explore inside and out, letting us wander at will.
    I was amazed at the historical GS presence throughout. From the plaque still outside the door, to GS displays. We went to thank the CEO, for allowing us to hang out at an important place in our history. As we were leaving, he mentioned that he had something we might like. Pulled out a pewter GS plate from his desk drawer, and gave it to me. I was amazed two-fold; first of all, that he just gave it to me, and secondly, it was obvious to me that it had actually been in his desk all this time!! Told him it would be in a place of honor in my GS museum. Now girls today can view a small part of our history.

  2. About a dozen years ago, my husband had a convention in DC, and my mom and I tagged along. With our free time we ended up at Rockwood. They were so gracious, and let us explore inside and out, wandering at will.
    I was amazed at the historical GS presence throughout. From the plaque still outside the door, to GS displays. We went to thank the CEO, for allowing us to hang out at an important place in our history. As we were leaving, he mentioned that he had something we might like. Pulled out a pewter GS plate from his desk drawer, and gave it to me. I was amazed two-fold; first of all, that he just gave it to me, and secondly, it was obvious to me that it had actually been in his desk all this time!! Told him it would be in a place of honor in my GS museum. Now girls today can view a small part of our history.

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