Camping has always been a vital Girl Scout tradition. The time they spend outdoors offers plenty of opportunities to get to know the world around them, develop self-confidence, and learn some new skills.
It is more than just about teaching the girls how to pitch a tent or tie a knot. Still, they are also expected to understand the value of working with others and understand that every action an individual takes will affect others.
Since children will spend several days and nights outdoors away from parents, the supervisory adults in the campground have to make sure that everyone is safe and secure in the environment; otherwise, vulnerable kids are exposed to great danger.
An unforgettable example of that happened more than four decades ago in Mayes County, Oklahoma.
Three young Girl Scouts: Michele Guse (9), Lori Farmer (8), and Denise Milner (10), were raped and murdered on their very first night at Camp Scott in the summer of 1977; they were all from the same tent.
Their bodies were found on the morning of June 13. No one has been convicted of the crimes. Camp Scott was closed for good the next day.
10 Annual Camping Trip
On June 12, 1977, nearly 140 girls arrived at Camp Scott in Locust Groove northeast of Oklahoma for an annual week-long camping trip.
The Magic Empire Council of Girl Scouts had run and operated the camp since 1928. For the week ahead, the bases were assigned by age group.
The Kiowa unit, consisting of 8 tents, including one of the counselors, was set up for the youngest girls.
Among the youngest were 9-year-old Michele Guse, 8-year-old Lori Farmer, and 10-year-old Denise Milner. No one knew that the girl’s first night on that camping trip would also be their last ever.
9 Kiowa Unit
All the tents in the Kiowa unit were laid out in a horseshoe pattern. The first tent was for the counselors, and following the design was Tent 1 to Tent 7. The distance between the counselor’s tent and the 7th was around 80 meters.
In total, there were 27 girls in the Kiowa unit. All arrived at their team around 4:00 p.m.
On an otherwise dreary Sunday with a thunderstorm, the girls managed to cheer up the early evening hours by singing along in the dining hall until about bedtime.