I read a notice about a “summer camp fair” where parents can go and talk to representatives from all the area camps. It seems a bit odd considering that almost all the clientele of these camps are flat-landers. But anyway it reminded me of some pages from a photo album that I bought several years ago.
The photos were of a group of Camp Fire Girls, and there was also a printed article about their time camping and hiking in Western North Carolina. Also included was a little song or chant:
I sort of assumed that the name of the camp was Glenn-Lowry, but I’d never heard of a camp by that name in this region, and a search turned up nothing. In reading the article it mentioned “Whitmire girls” and that is where I got lucky. As it turns out, these girls were from Whitmire, South Carolina, and they were all associated with the Glenn-Lowry Mill that was located there.
The idea of camping as recreation in the US arose a generation or so after people who were pioneers and moving into new territory pretty much had to spend their traveling nights camping. What had once been a hardship was now thought to be a fun way to escape the city and modern life. In many ways it was a pursuit for the middle class and the wealthy, as the poor factory workers had neither the time nor the money for extended leisure.
But things were different in some mill towns, and it seems that Whitmire was one of the lucky ones. The wife of the owner, Evelyn Coleman who was from Asheville, worked to develop educational and recreational resources for the workers and their families. The company ran a YMCA, a bowling alley, and a skating rink. There were baseball teams and clubs for the kids and for the mothers. And in the early years, there was a group of Camp Fire Girls.
On this occasion, the girls were camping at Camp Minnehaha, which is located about ten miles southeast of Asheville, near the little town of Batcave. From there they traveled around the region, taking day hikes to some of the most popular spots – Mount Pisgah, Chimney Rock and Blowing Rock. It must have been a very big adventure for girls living in a small South Carolina cotton mill town.