Braving the Swinging Bridge. Flying down the famous Red Barn slide. Getting to know the lovable horses.
Local Girl Scouts know these activities only come from Camp Sycamore Hills.
Whether your memories of Sycamore Hills include troop outings, campfire stories, horse rides, or summertime games, this site holds a special place in each of our hearts. Because we know it’s more than just 742 acres of sweeping land and forest — it’s a home away from home.
If you ask any long-time volunteers or lifetime Girl Scouts, they can immediately tell you their own Sycamore Hills stories, spanning decades. So when exactly did these memories begin, and how did our beloved camp come to be?
With the help of our historian, Cindy Robinson, we gathered some fun history about Camp Sycamore Hills, to give you an idea of the property’s origins even before it became a cherished camp for Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee!
Flash back to the 50s!
GSMIDTN purchased the Sycamore Hills property in June of 1958 for approximately $70,000. Located in Ashland City, it was previously owned by Mr. Madison Jones, who ran it as the Sycamore Creek Black Angus Farm. GSMIDTN specifically planned to use it as a Girl Scout camp.
The iconic red barn…or was it?
“The Red Barn” was indeed a barn used on the property, BUT it was not red! The barn was originally white and required a great deal of renovation before GSMIDTN could use it.
Moving in and moving along
Over the summer of purchase, there was a great deal of activity on-site, including repairs and renovations.
In April of 1959, the first large-scale event was held – a “Sycamore Show” for girls who had sold at least 42 boxes of cookies! Country music star Eddie Arnold was the Master of Ceremonies, and approximately 2,500 people attended.
Our first resident camp was held that summer of 1959 with 14 girls in attendance (In comparison, about 1,300 girls attended camp at Sycamore Hills in summer 2019!). Campers in the ’50s and ’60s wore uniforms, which included green shorts, white blouses, and green knee-high socks.
The formal dedication weekend was held that fall.
Just keep swimming…and sliding
Campers today have tons of fun splashing around at the new Aquatics Center. The original swimming pool was built in 1960 for “Saturday Swims,” but it cost you a little extra—10 cents per person.
Did you know the Red Barn slide wasn’t originally installed for fun? It was required by the Fire Marshal as a means of emergency escape from the Barn Loft.
What’s in a name?
The forest area makes for great adventures at camp, including bluffs for repelling and a winding nature trail. The trail was renamed the Happy Birdsong Trail in honor of Virginia “Happy” Birdsong, who retired after 50 years as a volunteer and staff member.
Julie’s Hollow is another part of the property, known for its wide-open spaces that are perfect for setting up camp. It was named for the fourth president of the council, Julia Horton.
A horse, of course
It wouldn’t be Sycamore Hills without the horses! People began expressing interest in a horse riding program in the late 1960s, and horses arrived around 1970. Today we have a handsome herd of over 40 horses and offer a multitude of programs year-round.
More than just summer camp
Camp Sycamore Hills has been used by our girls and adult volunteers, as well as our staff and various community groups and businesses over the years – for troop camping, resident camp, girl and adult training, staff retreats and celebrations, and large scale events with statewide, national, and even international attendance!
Do you have a fun memory at Camp Sycamore Hills? We would love to hear about it! Share your Camp Sycamore Hills memories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!