|Vol. 1 No. 35||page 4||Sept. 5, 1952|
A week spent in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills with over a hundred girls and twenty staff members is one not easily forgotten. A tenderfoot, not experienced in camp life, has moments when she knows one can't possibly live through it. But one does! -- Battered and bruised, she may be, but she acquires a zest for life and living that compares to nothing experienced in the past.
The Girl Scouts Southern Black Hills Camp Association again leased the Bob Marshall Organization Camp on Lake Bismarck, (laundry photo) near Custer, for the use of the girls from Igloo, Edgemont, Hot Springs, Custer and Upton. This beautiful, modern camp has become so popular that this year it was necessary to obtain it for a second week in order to have room for all the girls who registered.
The camp is directed by Mrs. Barbara Graff of Clark, S. Dak. "Bow", as she is commonly known, is the hub of the wheel - everything revolves about her. Never at a loss for ideas, she keeps things moving. Equally talented at entertaining and clowning, as well as conducting more serious ceremonies, her sparkling personality is felt by all the camp. Her understanding of people, her ready wit and her keen sense of humor makes it a privilege to have a week of close association with her.
Accompanying her and to help as Program Aides are Bow's daughter, "Feather", and Mary Smithey, popularly known as "Tex". Feather is wise to the ways of camping. Capable, talented and dependable, it will take only time to make her as efficient in directing a camp as her mother. Tex is a dynamic personality originally hailing from Texas. She still has an accent and many "tall tales". she attended the University of South Dakota last year, majoring in dramatics. Every evening the Scouts begged for a story from Tex and they were never disappointed. She would swagger up to the front with her hands in the hip pockets of her Levis and put all of her ninety pounds into her story, whether she was portraying man, bird or beast. In addition to her dramatic ability, Tex is an expert swimmer and an all around "good Scout".
Other counselors were local people who were assigned groups of girls according to school grade. They were responsible for carrying out a designated program, "Mother" the girls and keep them happy. Many came with the thought that they were sacrificing a week of their time,, but they left with the feeling that they had received more than they had given.
A popular member of the staff, and one who evokes sighs from little girls of ten up to care-worn counselors who should know better is Gene Biever of Hot Springs. A personable young man of many talents, Gene acts as life guard and swimming instructor. Being the only man on the premises leads to being the butt of frequent jokes, but he equal to any situation. Being able to "take it" as well as hand it out, and not being afraid to appear ridiculous in the eyes of his doting public, he does much to make the time at camp pleasant.
Because girls can't always be relied upon to keep well, the camp provides them with our genial friend "Tonic", who in normal life is Mrs. Evelyn Moye, R.N., of Custer. She laughingly comments that the "R.N." means "Regular No-Account", but to everyone at camp, she was a "Real Necessity". She administered to the sick in body and the sick at heart. In that large group there are many little heartaches and cases of homesickness and Tonic was always around with a kind word and a friendly smile. Many a girl suffered the discomfort of having her throat painted for the sake of personal attention from her! On call at all hours, she was kept very busy. In five days, she had 88 "cases", including sore throats, cuts, sunburn, sprains, insect bites, earache, etc. Cases that might develop into something of a serious nature are taken to the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. In addition to treating the sick, Tonic supervises the inspection of latrines and cabins.
Queen of the kitchen and loved by all is "Cooky", Mrs. Walt Siewart, of Custer. This congenial lady has cooked for the Scouts for the past four years. The quantity of food required is amazing. At each meal 10 gallons of milk and 13 loaves of bread are consumed. A chicken noodle dish requires 50 pounds of chicken. Fifty pounds of potatoes are prepared for a meal. (Lots of peeling!) It is no small task to plan and prepare balanced meals for this size group, and Cooky does a splendid job. To be healthy and happy, one must be well fed, and she does just that. Her meals are both balanced and delicious. Rumor has it that rather than use ordinary seasonings, Cooky flavors her dishes with bits of her own big heart. she is ably assisted by "Doughnut", Mrs. Flannigan, of Hot Springs.
It might be of interest to run through a typical day at camp -
7:00 Rise and shine.
8:00 Colors. An impressive ceremony whereby a hundred girls pledge allegiance to their country and proudly watch Old Glory ascend into the heavens.
8:30 Kapers. All girls must share in maintaining a clean camp. They proceed cheerfully with the duties of hopping (serving), slopping (washing dishes), flopping (wiping), chopping (carrying the wood), mopping (cleaning up the grounds) and lopping (cleaning latrines). They actually are cheerful - in fact, refrains of "I'm A Nut" or "Linda Lee" echo through the Hills.
9:00 Unit Activities. Groups meet with their counselors at the unit sites and proceed with special activity of the day. This might be woodwork, nature study, dramatics, a hike, et cetra.
10:30 Swimming. Girls are divided into classes according to their ability. The "Buddy" system is used for safety.
12:00 Dinner. Always welcome! Prior to eating any meal, grace is sung, soft and sweet. The dining hall is a large room finished in knotty pine. It has a large fireplace built of native rock. Throughout the meal the group constantly bursts forth with song. Those who are tardy are serenaded with "Always Behind Just Like the Old Cow's Tail".
1:00 Rest hour. Whether they can sleep or not, the girls must remain in their cabins and rest.
2:00 Unit activities. Continuation of morning's work.
5:30 Council meeting. Group consists of a girl elected from each unit and the Camp Director. All complaints are handled.
6:30 Retreat. A horseshoe is formed around the flagpole and everyone stands at attention while the flag is lowered.
7:30 Program and campfire. Each day a different unit is assigned the responsibility for the evening's entertainment. The week brought forth varied programs showing versatility and talent on the part of the girls. The campfire, with the beautiful, full moon pearing through the tall pines, brought a feeling of closer companionship. And as the last note of "Taps" sounded, and everyone called "Goodnight, Scouts", a little lump formed in the throat.
9:00 Back to the cabins. Counselors visited to see that all were accounted for, presented them with treats, listened to little troubles and left them to prepare for bed.
10:00 Lights out. Counselors again check cabins, tuck in the weary Scouts and leave them with fond good night.
Each day was similar and yet so different. One woke up each morning with a feeling of adventure awaiting him.
Certain things are required of the girls. Throughout the week, they were to make three things. One to give away, one to take home and one to keep. Each cabin was responsible for latching together a washbasin stand and making a spit pit. In more refined but less popular terms, the latter is a toothbrush pit, dug and lined with rock. The cabins were to be kept neat and clean. An inspection is made daily. Those that are superduper receive an orchid; those not so good, a petunia; and the perfectly horrible ones, a stinkweed. Inspection caused a great deal of rivalry among the girls, all slaving for the coveted orchid. t was never scheduled for a specific time, thus it meant being prepared at all times. However, after it was over for the day, alack and alas!
One learned throughout the week to always be in full dress, including hatchet, knife (sharp, yet), rope, flashlight and bale pail. The latter is a most valuable piece of equipment with out which life would not be complete.
Numerous cook-outs were enjoyed by the girls. The food may get charred and full of dust, but it tasted delicious.
Somewhat apart from the others is the Pioneer unit. as the name implies, these older girls rough it. They live in tents, sleep on the ground, and cook over an open fire. Their counselor, Mrs. Bertha LaChance, of Edgemont, is full of vim and vigor. She takes a beating living their way of life but always comes up smiling.
U. S. Forest Rangers devoted an afternoon taking groups on hikes through the forest, lecturing on flowers, trees and shrubs and explaining the need and use of fire fighting equipment. It proved interesting as well as educational.
The final day of the week brought the Olympics, at which the units competed in various activities such as knot typing, fire building, making Klondyke beds, cutting tent stakes, etc. The last evening was the grand finale featuring a World's Fair. Each unit portrayed a different country, having a booth exhibiting their handiwork. Everyone was in costume, made from available materials, and each group presented as their part of the program something typical of the county they represented.
At the end of the week, one discovered that complete strangers had become dear friends and there was a reluctance to part. It was hoped by many that next year would bring another "week in the woods".
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