The Gift of a Summer Camp Experience

By Rachel Blackmon, Girl Scout and Camp Staff Alumna and Campership Fund Donor

When I was 10 years old I went to Camp Mary Atkinson for a week of summer camp and HATED it. I was extremely homesick. Things like bugs, new food, and new people were all just too much for me.


Rachel’s first day at camp in 1996– prior to homesickness setting in.

But then, thanks to some amazing counselors, a kind tent-mate named Sally, and my determined mother, I (reluctantly) made it through the whole week. The next spring when the Summer Fun guide came, my mother assumed I would not be interested. Boy was she surprised when I bounded off to camp that next summer significantly more confident, prepared, and assertive.

I continued to go to camp every summer until I was old enough to be a Counselor-in-Training. I went through the CIT program and worked on the CMA camp staff full time for 6 years. Since then, I have taught 7th grade, worked at camp part time, worked at Girl Scout Science Camp, started a family, and been a donor to the Campership Fund.


Rachel and fellow Adventure Campers inside a cave.

I wholeheartedly credit Girl Scout camp with making me who I am today. I seriously doubt that my camp counselors from 1996 would never have expected the little girl who wouldn’t swim in the lake because it was “too icky” to earn her lifeguard certification there 8 years later. Or the little girl who sat out during Capture the Flag to climb to the top of the Alpine Tower once it was built! Or the little girl who would barely speak loud enough to be heard, to then be leading the closing campfire and teaching a classroom of rambunctious middle schoolers. If there was ever a camp success story – I promise I am it!

Not only did camp allow me to become a leader, but I was also able to take on new challenges like rock climbing and caving and have new experiences like seeing the wild horses of Chincoteague. Camp also gave me the opportunity to meet people from other countries and develop lifelong friendships – two camp friends were bridesmaids in my wedding! When our family experienced hardship this past fall, an overwhelming number of the people who reached out to support us were women I had not seen in years, but shared a bond with from Camp Mary Atkinson.


Rachel as CMA Staff in 2005.

And that’s why I love supporting the Campership Fund. I know just how influential and life-changing Girl Scouts and specifically Girl Scout Camp can be for a girl. I want to make sure that all girls have the opportunity to experience camp. I love knowing that girls from all backgrounds and situations will have access to the same opportunities that I was lucky enough to have, because I know they will leave camp more independent, more self-assured, and proud of all they accomplished!

To join Rachel and hundreds of others in their support of the summer camp experiences for ALL girls you can make a secure gift online or mail a check to the Campership Fund at 6901 Pinecrest Rd, Raleigh, NC 27613. To learn more, contact our team at or 919-600-6315. Last year, over $50,000 was awarded in financial aid to over 390 girls who applied. This support isn’t possible without your help, thank you!

One thought on “The Gift of a Summer Camp Experience

  1. Debi Wilis says:

    Mapes, so proud of you for writing this!!! I love seeing you and Mooncha together in the photo. What good times we all had in our troop!!!!! Watching you grow from a quiet, reserved girl to a true leader was a joy for me as a leader. Much love!!!

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