Camp El-Wa-Ho in Franklin County celebrating 50 years

October 13, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. -- Started with a donation of 149 acres, Camp El-Wa-Ho is now celebrating its 50th anniversary with some of the thousands of Girl Scouts it has hosted over the last five decades.

Past campers likely hold onto memories from their experiences in the woods off U.S. 30.

Carol Eberly laughed as she talked about chasing a chipmunk out of a tent one rainy night, while Sheryl Melville remembers dousing her socks in insect repellent after a misstep off the path.

"I had tramped right in a yellow jackets' nest," Melville said.

A celebration on Saturday is expected to bring together 200 to 250 former and current Girl Scouts for an American Indian presentation, tepee painting, tours, singing and guest speakers. A commemorative patch will be given out.

Eleanor Hoover of Waynesboro, Pa., gave the former goat farm to the Waynesboro Beneficial Fund, which rents the camp to the Girl Scouts for $1 a year. Hoover, the namesake of the 1912 Hoover House restaurant, was a member of the national board for the Girl Scouts.


Troops with girls from kindergarten through 12th grade camp for nights or weekends, or they use the property for classes.

"It's used all summer long for day camps. ... A lot of kids nowadays don't have the opportunity to be outdoors any other time," said Eberly, who is working with other volunteers to plan the Saturday celebration.

Laurel Hall was an open-air pavilion when the camp opened, but concrete walls soon turned it into a shelter for inclement weather. Cabins and platform tent units were added over the years and received electricity three years ago.

"It was always nice to have a place to call your own," said Melville, who was a first-year Brownie when the camp was established.

She likes the way the camp is laid out and feels the Girl Scouts are fortunate to have a property surrounding the Appalachian Trail.

"I went to day camp every summer every year through my senior years in Scouting," said Melville, who then helped at camp on summer breaks from college and later directed the camp for three years.

Melville said she's excited for camp alumni to return Saturday and to discover how the facilities have been expanded and improved.

"I'm hoping I get to see a lot of the people I haven't seen for 30 years," she said.

Eberly said girls are always divided on whether they enjoy the Camp El-Wa-Ho overnight stays.

"The ones who are into camping really like it. Then there are the ones who are afraid of spiders and don't like the outdoor latrines," she said.

The Girl Scout experience, though, is one Eberly feels can fit any girl.

"It's a program different than any other group. It teaches them self-esteem, service to the girls and community, healthy eating, physical activity, nature (awareness)," Eberly said. "They do set themselves goals and earn awards."

If you go ...

What: Camp El-Wa-Ho 50-year Celebration

When: Saturday, Oct. 18

Where: Camp, 6700 Chambersburg Road, Fayetteville, Pa.

For more information, call Carol Eberly at 717-762-8321 or send e-mail to her at

Schedule of events:

10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: American Indian history presentation for girls

12:30 to 1 p.m.: Lunch

1 to 2 p.m.: Tours and tepee painting

2 p.m.: Opening ceremony

3 to 4 p.m.: Camp tours with cake and cider

4 p.m.: Closing ceremony

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