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1950’s Girl Scouts
August 13, 2013
Recently this website was contacted by Eagle Pass Girl Scouts of the 1950’s. They had not been to Camp Fawcett since early 1950 and wanted to go take a tour, along with a picnic. These ladies were referred to the Council office and approved to take a tour of Camp Fawcett in July of this year.
In addition to the above these ladies also sent us a story line along with some photos and for that we offer our most sincere thanks.
L-R: Carolyn Smith Mueller. Susan Myers Brandon & Frances "Panchita" Gates Rhodes (this photo was taken at Centerville, TX the 19th year these ladies have gotten together). These girls started out as Brownie's all the way through Girl Scouts
Susan Myers Brandon “We wanted to let you and the council know how much we enjoyed our visit to Camp Fawcett. Ronny Watson was there as he said that he would be and had left the gate open and opened restrooms and a shower. We talked over changes to the place over the years, but we feel that much is still the same which is not a bad thing. We drove down to the beautiful blue Nueces swimming hole and took pictures. We drove all over and then found a nice shady camp site to have lunch on a picnic table. It was a very enjoyable time. We thank you so much for the privilege of returning to a favorite place in our hearts. “
Eagle Pass Girl Scouts at Camp Fawcett in the 1950's July 29, 2013
Back in the 1950's the Girl Scouts of Eagle Pass, Texas under the direction of Marie Myers (Mrs. J.C. Myers) received permission to take a group of Girls Scouts for one week each summer to Camp Fawcett. This took place for a period of approximately ten years and possibly a few more. I am relying on our memories of those wonderful, carefree days when we were proud to be able to go to Camp Fawcett for one week every summer. We were proud to be Girl Scouts, and we had the time of our lives.
Jack Spence, owner of the Style Shop in Eagle Pass whose wife, Clara Spence "was a Fawcett", was usually able to secure a school bus to take the girls to and from the camp, which was always a lot of fun. Scout songs were sung, lunches eaten, and there was general girlish bedlam on the bus.
Depending on the numbers in attendance, the girls were separated by age groups into each camp site. We set up our army cots, placed our bedrolls on them, placed suitcases on benches in the tents provided for us and we were ready for camp to begin.
Each group took a name and each leader had a nickname. Several that come to my mind are Myra Bonnet, Susie Rhodes, June Heredia, Evelyn "Goldie" Schmidt, and Mildred Pickard. Marie Myers, camp director always took the nickname "Minnie-Ha-Ha". More adult help includes Juanita Lewis, RN, our resident nurse every year who lived in the Infirmary. As campers we were required to run up the hill to see the nurse for alcohol drops after going swimming in the river each day.
Dottie Hemingway was our certified Swim Instructor each year. Also on the staff was the camp cook, Helen Carson and along with her kitchen staff, prepared many memorable meals. i.e.; asparagus casserole and roast beef and gravy, etc.
There were also male instructors: Hans Richards taught us canoeing and boating, Conway Pickard was the shooting instructor, teaching us how to shoot rifles and hand-guns. We had an Arts and Crafts instructor who taught us how to make lanyards, leather-work and tin-work. During the craft activity we made "Sit-Upons" from the large brown paper bags which we learned to weave and tuck in to hold them in place. These were used to sit upon at all our gatherings where we sat in a circle around a camp fire. Both Hans and Conway also gave lessons on bird identification. All this experienced instruction enabled us to work on and earn our Girl Scout badges, an important part of scouting.
There were also Junior Counselors who assisted each group leader. A few names that come to mind are Libi Rhodes, Frances Richards, Mary Frances Weyrich, Iliana Esparza, Phyllis and Marcella Myers, and Mary Sue Myers of Cotulla, TX. Actually most of us became junior counselors as we grew older.
As we walked along to our various activities, we would sing our Girl Scout songs which we had learned during the year at scout meetings.
Twice a day we went swimming down at the beautiful Nueces River in the clear, cold water. The banks were lined with clean, white rocks. We learned how to swim, learned different swim strokes, and received life-guard instructions, loving every minute. Swimming was the high point of our day. This was back in the day when we worked on our tans, rubbing a mixture of baby oil and iodine on our skin. We were all required to wear a hat to protect our faces from the hot sun.
A couple of the years it rained hard and we had to retreat to the Mess hall and listen to the rain on the roof. Seems like we spent a couple nights with our bedrolls on the table tops or on the floors. The thunder and lightning made us glad that we were inside that night. And, after the rain, I remember well the lovely smell of the evergreen trees and wet earth just outside the Mess Hall.
We were always busy at camp. On one late afternoon of the week, we all dressed in our "whites" and gathered for a campfire. We each prepared our foil-packed meal of hamburger, potato and veggies and placed it on the campfire until it was done. We loved those meals. Later we enjoyed ‘smores which tasted better those evenings than they ever did again when we became adults.
Afterwards, we all made a circle around the flagpole, recited the Brownie and Girl Scout pledges, and sang in unison “Tell Me Why", "God Bless America", and "Taps” to remember just a few. There was always a Color Guard who took down the American flag as we all saluted. The very last night we gathered at a special place on the hill above the Mess hall, around a campfire and tried to sing all the songs we knew and cried just a bit because we had to go home the next day.
Not to forget Skit Night: each troop participated and the girls sang songs of their choosing and acted out original skits and plays. We told jokes and even acted out our versions of commercials. I remember the year that our troop made puppets from white socks and we brought them to camp and put on our version of the Seven Dwarfs. There were always lots of laughs, and we were proud of ourselves. All our material was original, created by the scouts themselves. Our troop leaders supported and encouraged us but did not do the work for us.
After we graduated from high school in 1961, we went our separate ways on to college. I believe that the Girl Scouts of Eagle Pass continued to attend Camp Fawcett for several more years, but participation dwindled and interest waned. Nevertheless, there were no complaints - at least not to my knowledge. It was a genuine good time and many solid friendships were formed for years to come.
by Susan Myers Brandon, Hobbs, New Mexico
Frances "Panchita" Gates Rhodes, TAMIU, Laredo, TX
Carolyn Smith Mueller, Dallas & Buffalo, TX
"Panchita" & Susan in front of the Mess Hall
Carolyn & Frances at the front entrance.
Eagle Pass Girl Scouts in front of the Mess Hall - notice they hung their Girl Scout banner over the entrance to the V. A. Brown dining hall.
Ernestene Seales in front of Dining Hall
Girl Scout troop hanging out bathing suits
Swim Instructor Dottie Hemingway
Junior Counselor Gracie Heredia
Thank you ladies for the memories~!
In paragraph 7 above mentions a Girl Scout by the name of Ann Johnson from Eagle Pass that attended Camp Fawcett during the 1950's and early 1960's. Well come to find out this Ann happens to be Ann (Johnson) Conner, wife of Billy Conner who spent two weeks at Camp Fawcett and managed the Trading Post for the Camp Fawcett Summer Camp of June 2013.
Ann (Johnson) Conner, one of the many Camp Fawcett alumni who is 'giving back' for the benefit of many.
Camp Fawcett Donors
Joe Ray Jones
Billy & Ann Conner
John Keyes Finegan
J. L. Love
J. K. & Betty Finegan
Duane A. Strother
Ernst & Julius Graw
Craig S. Neumeyer