Camp Mont Shenandoah has been a part of many a Bath County girls’ summertime experience
Swimming, canoeing, riding and archery are not activities we think much about this time of year. But they are a big part of many girls’ memories for almost a century, says Ann Warner, owner/director of Camp Mont Shenandoah.
“They find a spirit here and a comfort level and a safe place they can’t always find, in what we call, ‘the outside world’,” she said.
Camp Mont Shenandoah in Millboro Springs is one of two Bath County camps to be designated a Virginia Landmark. It may also be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The camp currently welcomes about three hundred girls over the course of six weeks during the summer.
“The Virginia Landmarks Registry is the official site of properties important to Virginia’s history,” said Warner.
To be designated on both the Virginia Landmark, and the National Historic Places registers is an honor bestowed on historic properties that recognizes the historic value of a property and encourages current and future owners to be good stewards of their property, according to Warner.
“Camp Mont Shenandoah was started in 1927 by a woman named Nannie West,” said Warner. “And interestingly enough Nannie West had started another camp called Camp Alkulana just down the road from us in 1915, and they were also listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register at the same time we were.”
“There is a whole history there about Alkulana. It was developed for girls, inner city youth, in the Richmond community to be brought out to the country. Unfortunately, it’s lost to history now on why Nannie West left Camp Alkulana and came and started Camp Mont Shenandoah. What we do know is that she had ill health and had to leave Camp Alkulana in 1923, or 1924, and took a sabbatical. I think she still had her hand in Camp Alkaluna, but was not the director at the time.”
“But in 1927 she came to Camp Mont Shenandoah. We don’t know how she located the property, we don’t know why she left Camp Alkulana for good, but we do know that once Camp Mont Shenandoah was started the two camps did a number of activities together.”
“There were some other significant people in the early years of Camp Mont Shenandoah, including Ma Withrow. I think she was the dietician, early on, back at the start of camp. She lived over on the Coffee Pot Road in a white house that still exists. Nannie West passed away in 1934, and I think it was that summer, before Nannie West passed away, that Ma Withrow took over the ownership, and the directorship of the camp.”
Warner continues about some of the traditions from one generation to the next.
“We turn eighty-nine this summer,” said Warner. “We have a number of traditions that go back to 1927, to the start of camp. Traditions include our singing; we do a lot of singing at camp, and some of our songs go back to the very early days of Camp Mont Shenandoah.”
Some more of those traditions include the Green and Buff teams who compete all summer, and the winner carries the torch to the final bonfire on Vesper Hill.