The Girl Scouts’ Camp Townshend

 

ctcabin

One of the remnants of Camp Townshend cabins

Beyond the White Memorial Foundation, Alain and May White contributed money and land to dozens of other ventures that have greatly impacted the Litchfield County landscape.   Among these are the Connecticut State Police barracks in Litchfield, Community Field, the land for Litchfield Intermediate and High Schools, Wamogo Regional High School, and the Bantam Civic Association.  They also donated 5,745 acres to 14 Connecticut state parks, most in northwestern Connecticut.

latrine

A latrine

The Foundation supported the Boy Scouts by leasing Camp Boyd, adjacent to Sandy Beach (the cabin burned in the 1970s) and the Girl Scouts through Camp Townshend, located along Alain White Road in Morris. Townshend opened in 1940, and by the end of that decade over 700 campers visited the property. The property could house 100 campers and 28 staff members for each two-week camp session, which began in late June.   In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Mrs. Barbara Cutler served as camp director, and the facility was overseen by a 22-member Budget, Planning, and Maintenance Committee.

cabin interior

The interior of a cabin. The writing on the wall says “Cloud, Lightning, Sun, Moon, Star, Rainbow, Rainbow, Bean Sprout, Corn, Blossom, Warrior Mark, Mark of Some Offices”

telephone

Remnants of old telephones?

While Camp Townshend closed in the mid-1970s, and was utlized by the Morris and Litchfield fire departments for  training exercises, a walk through the remains of Camp Townshend has the feel of visiting a Wild West ghost town. Even in the darkest days of fall and winter, it is easy to imagine the sounds of summer coming from the lake.

shore

The Camp Townshend shore line

19 thoughts on “The Girl Scouts’ Camp Townshend

    • I went to Camp Townsend each summer from 1941 through 1945. They were wonderful summers. I still have a postcard with a picture of the Lodge and a letter I wrote describing the camp’s celebration on VJ Day.

  1. The two weeks I spent at Camp Townsend as a Girl Scout were the best two weeks of my childhood. Although it is a thing of the past, I will always remember it as the place I learned to row a boat, campfires and pitching a tent!

  2. I stayed there with my Girl Scout Troop around 1964-5. I remember each patrol had its own cabin. There were 5 cots (like the one in photo 3) in my cabin. Didn’t the walls have some canvas on them? The photos made me sad. It seemed that the cabins were so much bigger when you are a kid. I would love to walk through there. How many buildings are standing? I thought they were one right next to the other. Didn’t take any photos as a kid but the memories are still there. Thanks for sharing this.

    • I was recently there. There are no buildings left standing, at least on the property owned by White Memorial. There is a collapsed building remaining. it was most likely the latrine as there was a toilet seat showing. There is also some piping running thru the former camp. Pipes must be for showers and dining hall. I wish I could find photos of the former camp.

      • I’m interested in visiting even if there’s nothing left. can you give some more specific directions? Along Alain White rd. doesn’t tell me much. is it on the water?

      • It is on the water. If you are coming from Litchfield along Whites’ Woods/Alain White Road, just before the Morris Town Line there will be a pull off for parking on your right. That is the trail head. It’s just a short walk; you’ll come to an intersection where going straight takes you down to the lake and going right brings you through the old camp.

      • Thanks for letting me know that Beverly. If you ever find photos I would love to see them. How sad that it is all gone now. So many wonderful memories.

  3. I went there for three summers during 1947-1949. I remember the cabins were a blend of cabin (because of the wooden floor) but the sides and top were canvas. The sides rolled up and revealed screens. There were four beds in each cabin (one on each corner) and the two beds opposite the entrance were the lucky ones as they had orange crate night stands. The big gong would ring 10 rings once each week as some campers were there only for one week but the 10 rings indicated an ice cream treat up at the lodge. Oh those were the days! I loved them!

  4. I spent two weeks there when I was a Girl Scout. I remember the mess hall or lodge and eating our meals there. They were wonderful times and our counselors were great. I drove out to Bantam Lake today but couldn’t find the road that lead to the campgrounds.

    • Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the comment! The best way to find the site is to take Whites Wood (or Alain White) road out of either Litchfield or Morris. Right near the town line on the west (lake) side of the road is a pull off with a White Memorial trail head. This will take you to the lake and the Camp Townshend beach; before you get to the beach another trail on the right will take you through some of the old camp.

  5. I went for two weeks every year starting when I was seven. That would be 1941 and went till 1947.

    There were the tents and I was in Brownies for two years….then Ledges, Romany Caravan and Pioneer. Never got to Pinewood. Such wonderful memories….. a happy carefree time. Mrs Tracey was the director.

    Would love to hear from anyone during that time. I remember two cousins Abby and
    Esther…..I remember singing songs after dinner while waiting for dessert. If we sang a song too many times they would”bury” it by the head table people walking around the table until it was over.

    My email is dikelley3@hotmail.com.

    • “Ledges is our wooded home, And from it we will never roam, Every day and every way, We like to work and play. From here we can see the view, Of Bantam Lake and mountain, too, Would you care to visit us at Ledges?, Oh, please do!”
      Funny, the things we can remember…sometimes! In Camp Townshend ’54,’55.and ’56, the ’55 one during the hurricane and flood of ’55, whereas my sister was ’53.

  6. I attended Camp Townshend in the late 1950s. My first and second years, two weeks each year, I was in Deer Run. I learned so many songs, and particularly recall singing around a campfire. I remember that the “tents” were on wooden platforms with canvas “walls” and “roofs.” For some reason I remember a fun talent show in a big barn. Was there a barn there? I believe there was a flagpole in front of the barn where we had flag ceremonies. (I also remember we took turns cleaning the latrines!) I looked forward to camp each summer, but during my 3rd year, in Pinewood, I had my first confrontation with bullies. That was really unfortunate because I loved attending Camp Townshend. My name at that time was Debra Kowaloff.

  7. My husband and I recently found the entrance to the camp road and trekked along the main camp road and down to the lake. Although there are clearings along the road (and pipes), there really isn’t anything left that shows where the units had been located or any of the buildings – only the pipes and telephone boxes and one building that has now collapsed. Does anyone have a map of the camp? Photos? I’ll look for mine. Another question – wasn’t Pinewood separate from the other units, on a separate side of the road to the lake?

    • Hi Debra, You are correct about Pinewood being separate. Before the entrance road bends to the right and you could see the big white house where the staff lived and the nurses office was the entrance to Pinewood. Then behind the white house was a large field where the bus would unload and at one end was the large barn with the tiny room on the left of the big barn doors was the little store where you could buy postcards and stamps , bathing caps. soap, and one package a day of either oreo cookies or peanut butter filled crackers. And that was our “fast food” in the 40’s. No wonder no one had a weight problem! I will look for some post cards my mother saved.What a wonderful place camp was…..I’ll never forget it!

      Diana Spicer Kelley
      dikelley3@hotmail.com

      • Thank you for your answer, Diana. When my husband and I were at the site a few months ago, I was pretty sure Pinewood was on a separate road to the left as you entered by the main road. There were pipes for electricity along the road, but not much else except the clearing where I thought Pinewood probably had been located. I would love to see photos of the camp. My mom saved everything, too, but I haven’t found anything from that era yet.

    • yes, Pinewood (for the oldest girls) was on your left as your entered just about where the turn to the right and the main camp grounds were, and the only spot where there were cabins. The rest of us were in large canvas tents. Stumbled on the camp years ago while canoeing on Bantam Lake and hiked in. Saw questions within this blog by others…there was a barn where we did activities/crafts and where the little store was located. It was across the lawn (where the flagpole was and, yes, camp-wide ceremonies, especially the last night ceremony) from the offices/nurse’s station in the old, big white house. Behind the barn was a field where archery was held. Down the road was where the old fire gong hung for calling us to meals (or whatever), and it was just outside the dining hall. We all participated in chores (like the fore-mentioned latrine cleaning) or being a ‘tweenie where you helped serve the food to the tables or even got to be the one who rang the gong before meals. There was a boat house a short ways up the hillside from the dock and beach where swimming lessons were held. That same boat house was submerged during the flood of ’55, one of the years I was in camp. Great memories!!!

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