Historical Perspective

Early Girl Scout Years

1910's - In 1912, Girl Scouts was founded. Within a few years, troops began to appear across the nation and locally.

1922 - The Elizabeth Council planted the seed of today's Camp Lou Henry Hoover. Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover, who became First Lady in 1929, attended the dedication of the original Camp Hoover, a tent camp located on the grassy slopes bordering Lidell Pond in Mendham, NJ. The camp was named in honor of Mrs. Hoover's long commitment to Girl Scouting and her concern for the environment. Nationally, troops begin baking cookies with a special recipe using a custom Girl Scout Trefoil cookie cutter.

Depression Era (late 1920's - early 1930's)

1928 - An official Girl Scout Council Constitution and Bylaws were submitted in April; and in September, the first official meeting of the Westfield Council was held with an Advisory Board of 15 men. The first fund drive goal was $3,000 and the first headquarters was located at 130 W. Broad Street.

1929 - Cranford women held a meeting and decided that a Girl Scout program should be started locally. Later in the year, the Cranford Girl Scout Council received its charter from the National Girl Scout Organization. Westfield started the first day camp known as Surprise Lake. The "first colored" troop was formed in October.

WWII Years - Before & After

1938 - February 25th - Miss Mary Miller of the Elizabeth Girl Scout Council received a Western Union Telegraph from Former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover. "Word of your older girl vocational conference awaited my return from a short absence it is a splendid idea and whatever your future occupation homemaking will become increasingly useful and fascinating as a vocation or avocation. All greetings to you of the conference and good wishes for its success.---Lou Henry Hoover."

1939 - Many Girl Scouts from our local Councils joined girls from New Jersey and nationwide at the World's Fair held in New York where they convened at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts exhibits.

1941 - March - Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. pledge to President Roosevelt any required number of hours of service for the national defense effort.

1942 - As reported by the Westfield Council, "A Service Bureau composed of past and present Girl Scout adults was organized to help in the war effort. Girls also diverted their attention to war efforts by: 1) helping at home while mothers worked; 2) getting community war-time jobs; and 3) preparing for emergencies…. Urgent need for leaders at this time."

1940's - Girl Scouts from the local Councils provided service hours to help their communities and country. The girls "sold war stamps and bonds, collected fat tin, silk stockings, and metal scraps" as reported in the Cranford Girl Scouts 65th Anniversary publication.

1953 - The Elizabeth Girl Scout Council purchased the Crestview Dude Ranch on Swartswood Lake, which became their new camp. The name of their original camp, Camp Lou Henry Hoover, was given to the new camp. Full of history, the site was once occupied by the Lenni-Lenape Indians. Campers, through the years, have found arrowheads and have heard about Native American legends around a campfire.

Inspiring Girls for Over 40 Years

1957 - Spring - Girl Scouts of Washington Rock Council was formed. It is written that: "The historical rock for which the Council had been named was used by General George Washington to observe the movements of British troops in the Revolutionary War." With contributions from school children of the Plainfield area, the site was later converted into a park known as Washington Rock State Park. The site has become a special place for Girl Scout troops to visit. The Plainfield Council owned Camp Sinawik on a 17-acre site near to the park.

Gaining Strength

1960's - Girl Scout Service troops helped bring relief to the families impacted by the Vietnam war. Baby boomers brought membership to 15,000.

1967 - The Council continued to operate the three New Jersey Girl Scout Camps: Camp Sinawik in Green Brook, which closed in the 80's; Camp Blue Heron in Sparta, closed in the 70's; and Camp Lou Henry Hoover in Middleville. In the 1960's, the Council concentrated its efforts on Camp Hoover. In 1969, Camp Hoover was expanded through the Council's purchase of an additional 78 acres.

1977 - The centrally located property at 201 Grove Street East in Westfield (previously rented by the Council) was officially purchased to support the business and administrative activities required to provide the Girl Scout program. Of historic interest, the building was formerly a trolley barn that serviced the line between Elizabeth and Somerville.

1980's - Clark/Winfield became part of the Council. The Girl Scout Gold Award was officially designated as the highest award in Girl Scouting.

2007 - The Council jubilantly celebrates its 50th Anniversary at an event held on April 24.  Three women, former board president Joan Corbet, Camp Hoover director Deborah Hooker and Councilwoman Linda Stender, along with over 50 adult volunteers and Gold Award recipients are recognized.

2007 - Rahway becomes the 25th community under the GSWRC umbrella when it joins effective July 1.

Today & Beyond

Girl Scouts of Washington Rock Council is making and will continue to make a difference in the lives of girls. The Council serves 21 communities in 25 towns and proudly serves a combined membership of girls and adults that ranges from 10,500 to 11,500. This is accomplished with a committed staff of 17 and a dedicated group of volunteers, all of whom believe that Girl Scouts is where Girls Grow Strong.

What is most important is that we are, together, faithfully carrying out our mission "to inspire girls with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism, and service so that they may become happy and resourceful citizens." With this as the focus, we are committed to reaching every girl, everywhere because Girl Scouting can make a difference in a girl's life. Washington Rock Girl Scouts, along with dedicated volunteers, are involved in a wide range of community service projects; in fun reading, science, and math programs; in activities designed to build understanding and acceptance of others; and in product sales to learn about running a small business. Adult volunteers and girls have opportunities to learn about and gain skills in leadership, and health and safety. Training for camping and about the environment and its preservation may be applied at our 328 acre Camp Lou Henry Hoover located on Swartswood Lake in Sussex County, New Jersey. The Gold Award brings with it prestige and an extraordinary sense of accomplishment on the part of each girl who attains this special recognition. It is no small feat for a girl between the ages of 14 and 17 to complete five substantial requirements, ending with a Gold Award leadership project requiring 50 hours of planning and then implementation. Projects selected by the girls must have a positive and lasting impact on the community. Girls "graduate" from Girl Scouts having been "inspired….".

Girl Scouts of Washington Rock Council, Inc.
201 Grove Street East
Westfield, NJ 07090
Phone: 908-232-3236
Fax: 908-232-2140

Copyright 2001-2003 WRGSC
The GIRL SCOUTS name, mark and all associated trademarks and logotypes, including the Trefoil Design, are owned by GSUSA.