For the 50th anniversary of Camp Piedmont, local Girl Scouts flashed back to 1967 at the annual day camp to learn more about the history of their beloved campsite and organization.
Nestled between Murfreesboro and Woodbury off of John Bragg Highway, Camp Piedmont has continued to serve as the primary camping destination for Rutherford and Cannon County Girl Scouts since its purchase in 1967. Before the 32-acre site was transformed into grounds for camping, hiking, archery and large group activities, Camp Piedmont belonged to the Hall family for generations, once known as the Piedmont Plantation. The property was part of an original land grant to David Barton Hall in 1812 for his military service.
When the Girl Scouts of Cumberland Valley sought to add a campsite to serve Girl Scouts in Middle Tennessee, Ms. Mary Hall, a Murfreesboro resident renowned for her dedication to educating women and girls, agreed to sell the property to the Cumberland Valley Council in 1967. Senior Girl Scout Troop #688 from Maplewood High School in Nashville were the first scouts to use the property for primitive camping prior to the construction of the camp lodge.
The 2,300-square-foot lodge at Piedmont was completed in 1968 to provide camping facilities for a 32-member troop or for training events. The first Murfreesboro Day Camp at Camp Piedmont was held in 1968 with 41 girls attending and five staff members. Today, nearly 50 years later, Camp Piedmont hosts between 150 and 200 Girl Scouts and staff members each summer.
“Camp Piedmont sits near the foot of Pilot Knob, a hill that is the highest point of land in Rutherford County, rising approximately 600 feet from its base,” says Cindy Robinson, the director of the Murfreesboro Day Camp at Piedmont and Archivist and Historian for the Girl Scout Council of Middle Tennessee. “No one knows who coined the name ‘Pilot Knob.’ It was called that when the first settlers came to this area. Native Americans used it as a guide point, a lookout, and a location for sending smoke signals,” Robinson says.
“During the Civil War, both the North and South considered Pilot Knob important enough that there were several skirmishes in the area over who had possession of it. It was very important during the battle of Stones River and was used as a signal station, and with a telescope you could see the courthouse in downtown Murfreesboro,” Robinson continued. Even today, on a clear day, you can see Murfreesboro from the peak of the hill. The current owner has graciously allowed some Girl Scouts to climb it, including Cindy and Laura Robinson and some other adults and older girl campers.
To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Camp Piedmont, the day camp theme this year was “Peace, Love and Piedmont,” with many of the camp activities reminiscent of the late 1960s. Girl scouts of all ages were able to experience Camp Piedmont like the first scouts to camp there in 1967 by learning to do macrame, tie-dye, spin art and other period crafts. Campers earned original 60s-era vintage Girl Scout badges that they will be able to wear on their uniforms. In keeping with Girl Scout tradition, everyone participated in the outdoor skills program, which teaches campers about outdoor cooking, nature study, toolcraft, first aid and safety. As a special service project, the girls made cards and posters expressing their appreciation to Mrs. Bertha Chrietzberg for her efforts in establishing Camp Piedmont.
On the last day of day camp this year, Ms. Robinson arranged a display of vintage 1960s Girl Scout camp equipment and uniforms in the lodge with a presentation on the history of Camp Piedmont. Campers learned more about what Camp Piedmont was like for its earliest campers, the history of the camp and how the Girl Scout traditions followed by previous generations continue today. Families of the campers were invited for a picnic lunch and birthday cupcakes, and everyone enjoyed crafts, games, songs and other activities outside in the meadow.
To learn more about getting involved with the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, visit gsmidtn.org.