Revisiting Camp Robbinswold at Age 87

At eighty-five years old, Mary Lou Bovee still treasures her childhood experiences at Girl Scout Camp Robbinswold. Like the many generations of campers who continue to spend time there, Ms. Bovee found magic, beauty, and life-long connections in her Girl Scout camp experiences.

Now, after sixty-seven long years, Ms. Bovee got to live her dream of revisiting Camp Robbinswold. Site Manager Jesse Jacobson arranged for her and a friend to visit in mid-August 2021. Her letter below expresses appreciation for the shared experience, intergenerational stewardship, and joyful nostalgia she found at camp.

We hope Ms. Bovee’s beautiful handwritten letter resonates with you, reminding you of the joy in nature, place, and human connection.


8/14/2021

Dear Ms. Franko,

You’ve never met me. I’m an eighty-five-year-old ex-Girl Scout who has longed to see Robbinswold after so many years.

To back up a bit: I spent many summers as a camper and CIT at Robbinswold back in the late 40s and early 50s. I loved it and have longed to see the Lodge and Rotunda again, at least that. Any more would be very difficult from a power chair.

Anyway, in 1953 the Girl Scouts sent me to an encampment of 2,800 Girl Scouts and Guides from all over the world. This was held in Trondheim, Norway and it was magical and more meaningful than any other experience of my life.

In the summer of 1954, I took care of the fourteen grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Robbins—who had donated Robbinswold to the Girl Scouts. Mr. and Mrs. Robbins became my friends, a relationship I will never ever forget.

For sixty-seven years, I have wanted to revisit Robbinswold and the Robbins compound, but life never allowed me to do that. But—because of a dear friend who said she would drive me and because of the sensitive generosity of Jesse Jacobson—one week ago, I was able to fulfill my dream.

It was wonderful! And, on the way home, we stopped at the Robbins’ Compound and I visited with the grandchildren (now in their seventies) and great-grandchildren of Helena Robbins.

The purpose of this letter is to really congratulate you for having my new, dear friend, Jesse Jacobson, on your staff. When I was there, we visited away for over an hour, and his dialogue and presentation were helpful, meaningful, and to the point. He is well informed.

I remembered all the units, i.e., Glade, Grove, Enchanted Forest, Barnacle Bay, etc. I learned how different the camping experience is today, but (hallelujah!) at least is it still available (although not these years of COVID). The camp looks so well maintained. The Lodge and Rotunda are beautiful!

I have written to Jesse to thank him for his time and for his caring attitude. I told him I would write you, too. He is certainly the perfect person for Site Manager. He loves Robbinswold and is dedicated to maintaining it well. I am so glad I got to visit. All because of him!

Sincerely,

Mary Lou Bovee


Thank you, Ms. Bovee, for sharing your experience and memories with us. Each member of our Girl Scout community, no matter the time or distance, holds a special place in our history and our future.

This September, you can help give Girl Scouts the opportunity to experience camp by participating in our annual Glamp fundraiser for camp scholarships. Join us online for camp-inspired virtual activities like watercolor painting or planter box construction. Bid in the silent and live auctions to win a Hawaii getaway or backyard firepit set. If you can’t make it, please consider donating. The Girl Scout you send to camp today will treasure those memories for eighty-five years and longer.

Are you looking for your own camp experience? Visit Camp Lyle McLeod during our fall site reservation season. Both indoor and outdoor units are available.

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