Named after the woman who championed the camp’s fundraising, May
Flather, the camp we know today first opened its gates to campers in
1930. A year before, in 1929, a primitive trail camp was held on-site,
but the additional fundraising supported the construction of permanent
buildings in time for the 1930 opening. Girls from the District of
Columbia Girl Scout Council rode a train to camp, swam in the river,
and did horseback riding! If you attended camp at this time, you
would have received a packing list that included required items such
as a camp uniform, beret, wool knickers, and oxford shoes; hand axes
were optional. In 1947, the packing list was updated to include wooden
clogs to wear to the pool. It was not until 1983 that Camp May Flather
began to offer the high adventure programs they are known for today.
The first, called Sky High, focused on activities such as rock
climbing and caving, which girls still experience every summer.
Since opening in 1930, Camp May Flather has been open every summer
except for 1949 when a June flood forced the camp to close for the
season. Over its years, Camp May Flather has had some interesting
history. In 1955, the District of Columbia Girl Scout Council
desegregated the camp four years before Virginia began to desegregate
public schools. The next year, in 1956, the last unit Frontier, was
built, adding to the camps sleeping accommodations. During the 1960s,
the United States Military used the camp location for training.
Service members parachuted into the area around the Pioneer campsite
and rappelled on the cliffs nearby.
Camp May Flather has also had a few notable guests! In August of
1930, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover visited the site. A Girl Scout
herself, she donated money helping to start the camp and was there for
the dedication of the Shawnee Bridge. Just like the bridge, many of
the original camp structures, including the Dining Hall and Stone
Lodge, remain and are in use today. When you visit Camp May Flather,
you can’t help but connect with the magic and memories of past Girl
Scouts and experience all of the camp’s history, beauty and rustic charm.