We’re excited to share a touching story about our Girl Scout council’s history!
Our staff receive many phone calls and email messages from former Girl Scouts, often people looking to donate items to our historical collection. A recent phone call came from Girl Scout alum Mickey, who had song lyrics from the 1940’s in Chicago. When called, Mickey shared her great love for her time spent at Camp Juniper Knoll, still one of our beloved camp properties. She described her dream of revisiting the camp and at the age of 95, her wish came true. Mickey came back to Camp Juniper Knoll on October 15, 77 years after her last summer camping experience.
Mickey was born in Germany in 1926 and immigrated to the United States in 1938 with her family. By the summer of 1939, she was a camper at Juniper Knoll in Frontier unit. She went back to Juniper Knoll for the next six years; first as a regular camper for two years, then two years as an unofficial go-between camper and pre-counselor and kitchen helper. Finally, her last two years at camp were as an unpaid volunteer counselor.
She always camped in Frontier! On her recent visit, the first stop was Frontier, of course. Mickey commented on the tents now having Velcro fastenings, instead of canvas ties. She also saw that the units now had running water, flushing toilets, and electricity for lights, big changes since she was there.
While Mickey was actually a Mariner Girl Scout in the Rogers Park area, her troop did very little that excited her. She participated so that she could go to camp every summer. Her best memories of her youth were being able to escape from the city to the country, to participate in everything camp had to offer. Canoe trips, hikes, dramatics, woodworking—whatever activities were planned, she was involved. She even loved the storms at camp. When the campers went hiking along the sides of the highways, Mickey made a point of stepping in the melted tar on the roadway and then stepping on the gravel to make her shoes crunch and grip as she hiked.
Mickey kept one of the half-sized scrapbooks and filled it with many photographs. The photographs recorded what she and her camp friends did. Years ago, she donated that memory book to Chicago but this October, one of our historians was able to pulle Mickey’s scrapbook from our archives so she could view it on her visit. She looked over each page, recounting each activity and reminiscing about each camp friend. Naturally, all the names written in the book were camp names! Mickey lit up as she reflected on the wonderful times she had at Camp Juniper Knoll as a Girl Scout.
After the summer of 1944, Mickey graduated out of Girl Scouts and camp, heading to Northwestern University and eventually earning degree in education and science. She married, had children (all boys), but never gave up her dream of returning to see Juniper Knoll.
The trip around camp was exciting for all of us as Mickey talked about what things were like when she was a camper. Frontier, Clippership, Shongela, and Greenwood are still units that she knew, but the Yurts were quite different than anything she had experienced. Low Lodge still has its fireplace, and is a place to gather, even though it is no longer a dining hall. The small cabins, however, still seem the same, in spite of added electricity. Mickey’s visit was a highlight for all of us who participated—and, as a thank you note from Mickey’s sons stated, “our mom was so excited she couldn’t sleep for days before the visit.”
Thank you so much to all our Girl Scout alum! We love hearing your treasured memories.