From Camping in a Dress to Addressing Camp Improvements: A Legacy of Girl Scouting from Peggy Sirvis

Of Margaret “Peggy” Pickard Sirvis’ memories from growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, camping trips with Girl Scouts top the list. Highlights include the weeks spent at Camp Shirley Rogers rear Roaring Gap and her troop camping trip which included a ride along a bumpy field in the back of a farmer’s pick-up truck to a remote camping site. Both times, Peggy and her fellow Girl Scouts were required to wear dresses while traveling to and from camp.

The 1930s were definitely different times!

Peggy [in her dress!] at Camp Shirley Rogers

These moments sparked a lifelong dedication to the Girl Scout Movement that included serving as a field director for Centinela Valley (California) Girl Scout Council in the 1950s and 60s, leading troops and helping in other volunteer roles, and sparking the same passion in her daughter, Barb. After Peggy returned to Chapel Hill in the mid-2000s, a friend of Barb’s, Linda Foreman, suggested Peggy check out her new hometown council. Peggy renewed her involvement with Girl Scouts – this time as a generous donor, a guest star at troop meetings, and a member of our Juliette Gordon Low Society for Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines.

Peggy died peacefully on April 8th 2017 at the age of 93. To honor her memory, Peggy’s daughter Barb worked with our development team to create a legacy gift to support improvements to Peggy’s beloved Camp Graham. In 2014, I took Peggy on a visit to the Cloverfield Treehouse Unit and she fell in love with the spirit of our picturesque resident camp on Kerr Lake.

Peggy with Troop #243

Sirvis’ gift of $300,000 will include

  • Renovations and HVAC for the Staff Office, a hub for activity for camp staff and visitors;
  • Renovations for Holly Hill cabin units to allow these units to be accessible for Brownies to enjoy resident camp at Camp Graham;
  • A new, fully-enclosed bathhouse unit at Holly Hill including heat, to help extend the camping season for Holly Hill; and
  • Seed money for future renovations and capital improvement projects like the swinging bridge, the staff house, and the dining hall.

In addition, over 20 donors – Girl Scout friends of Barb and Peggy from around the country – made gifts to Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines in honor of Peggy. Those funds along with an additional in-kind gift of telescopes and stargazing equipment, will provide stargazing programs to all troops and girls who camp at Graham. The Sirius Stargazing Unit will be dedicated to Peggy whose camp name became Sirius when one of her Centinela Valley colleagues commented: “Peggy was the brightest star in the sky.”

Peggy’s daughter Barb with Lisa Jones, Chief Executive Officer, at G.I.R.L. Convention in Columbus, Ohio.

Peggy will be missed by all who knew this shining star. Yet, we are grateful knowing that she will not be forgotten. As our campers discover, connect, and take action for years to come at Camp Graham, Peggy’s memory will live on through her legacy gifts.

As we celebrate Donor Appreciation Week, we are honored by donors like Peggy, Barb, and her friends. We are also grateful to all our Juliette Gordon Low Society donors who, through their legacy gifts, are shaping tomorrow’s leaders and safeguarding the traditions that brought them joy and inspiration. (Although, maybe without the going-to-camp-in-dresses part!)

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