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.