The Camping Experience of Yesteryear

At our council we are always working toward progress to help girls grow to be their best self. The Outdoor Learning & Adventure Program is a big part of that! But sometimes it is helpful and humbling to look back to the history of camping and remember what it was like for Girl Scouts of the past.

Bonnie Bayless, 93-year-old Girl Scout Alumna, remembers a lot of things about her childhood in Dover, Kansas.

Bonnie Bayless

Most of her memories center on Camp Daisy Hindman since the house she grew up in sat just a mile from the camp.

Her father, Richard Nystrom, a first generation immigrant from Sweden, became the first groundskeeper at the camp, which was founded in 1929 and officially opened in 1930. He was an integral part of the building process and gave 22 years of service to the camp.

But the outdoor experience was certainly a lot different for Girl Scouts than it is now.

“Back then there was no running water,” Bonnie said. “It was my dad’s job to make sure the girls had water to drink.”

One of Bonnie’s favorite memories was hopping on her Shetland pony and riding to the camp alongside her dad, who carried large blocks of ice in his horse-drawn wagon. On hot summer days her dad would break the big blocks of ice into smaller pieces and put them in the 15 gallon wooden barrels, which would soon melt into water.

Although Bonnie did not officially join Girl Scouts until the age of eight she would always tag along because she loved being around the girls from bigger cities.

“Times were tough then,” Bonnie said. “My parents couldn’t afford the dues. But my dad was a carpenter who helped build and fix things and my mom did laundry for the campers. We all helped at the camp at times to make ends meet.”

With the wonderful upgrades that have happened at our camps over the years, Girl Scouts of today may have a little trouble envisioning what it was like to go camping in the 1930’s!

“There was no electricity so the girls all carried their own flashlight,” Bonnie shared. “Food was cooked on a wood stove and the girls slept on mattresses filled with hay.”

Yes, things have definitely changed with the addition of modern amenities. But there are some Girl Scout traditions that keep that original Camp Daisy Hindman spirit alive.

“On the last day of camp you could hear the bugle call in the evening,” Bonnie remembered. “All the girls would gather for the flag ceremony. We would sing, have supper, tea and lemonade, and play games around the campfire.”

Bonnie was happy to know that these special traditions are still very much a part of the outdoor experience for today’s Girl Scouts.

We want to thank Bonnie for sharing such wonderful memories of her family, her life and Camp Daisy Hindman with us. Sometimes looking back is just as important as looking forward.

We look forward to a new generation of girls experiencing Camp Daisy Hindman. Learn about all the opportunities coming this summer.

One thought on “The Camping Experience of Yesteryear

  • January 15, 2015 at 10:19 am

    This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing this story and giving us all some very special feelings about Girl Scouts and how the traditions continue!


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