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A Visit to Camp Holloway in Tennessee

Josephine Holloway with her granddaughter, 1960s. Courtesy of Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee.

In May 1952 in middle Tennessee, there lived a Girl Scout captain following the same dream as  our founder Juliette Low–Girl Scouts of the USA for every American girl. Girl Scout Captain Josephine Holloway, a former Social Worker, purchased 50 acres of land with the help of her husband, Dr. Guerney Holloway, for a Girl Scout campgrounds dedicated for African American girls. The camp was a first for Girl Scouts in the South. Before the civil rights movement, local laws and customs prevented Mrs. Holloway’s Troop 200 from camping overnight with other troops during camping events.

To give her troop a true camping experience, Mrs. Holloway searched for land with running water, such as a stream, for her scouts to bathe and cook. She found a land lot in Millersville, Tennessee, which even had a farmhouse that the troop would later use as their lodge.

The field had been unattended and the farmhouse dilapidated, but Mrs. Holloway was a visionary. She encouraged her scouts and their parents to envision the cabins, trails, and the pool. Every weekend they visited the grounds, tackled the overgrowth, and followed the instructions of Mrs. Holloway’s designs for the camp.

Since its dedication 60 years ago, the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee have purchased additional lots to increase the campground’s size to the current 76 acres. They later honored Mrs. Holloway with the camp’s name change to Camp Holloway.

Many people in Tennessee see Mrs. Holloway as a hidden heroine. Her efforts to help Ms. Low’s dream for every American girl to have the opportunity to become a Girl Scout are heroic due to social challenges before and during civil rights movement.

TaMara Powell at Camp Holloway. September 2011

I had to visit the campgrounds myself. Camp Holloway has been completely renovated. Girls can experience archery, running through an obstacle course, rappelling off of a tower, rock climbing, swimming, team adventuring, and tree climbing.

I can only imagine Mrs. Holloway would be so proud with the updates. There is even a patch that visiting Girl Scout campers can earn, called the “Josephine Holloway/Guerney’s Cabin Patch.” To visit Camp Holloway, call 615-383-0490 or visit the website at http://gsmidtn.org/camp/category/camp-holloway/.

Blog post written by TaMara Powell, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Archives Volunteer and Girl Scout Troop Leader.

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