In 1927, fifteen years after the creation of the Girl Scouts of America, Miss Mary White, who was Commissioner of the Roswell scouts, led a vigorous effort to ensure that young ladies would have the opportunity to have quality outdoor experiences. In support of her work, her parents, Erza and Maude White, donated 200 acres of family land in the Sacramento Mountains. Mary White used this land to create a Girl Scout camp. Within a year, stately Ingham Hall, a large pine lodge, was built. Eventually, thirty-four Adirondack cabins, outbuildings, and outdoor kitchens with stone hearths formed the heart of the property.
For over eighty years, Camp Mary White was run by various local Girl Scout Councils. The camp enjoyed tremendous popularity. Thousands of young women had life-changing experiences living Mary White’s dream.
Mary White grew up with a profound love of the outdoors. Known affectionately as “Miss Mary,” she had a reputation for her independence, intelligence, and charm. She loved rugged outdoor camping and horseback riding. She had an engaging optimism and “believed just about anything was possible.” She focused her energy and optimism on young women. Camp Mary White personified her spirit, love of nature, and desire to encourage young women while having fun in a nurturing environment.
Mary White served as the camp director from its inception through most of the 1930s. She went on to become a professional Girl Scout and trained other out-of-state Girl Scout councils. Later in life she directed New Mexico State University’s women’s residence hall and in the early 1950s she moved to El Paso to become director of Texas Western College’s Bell Hall. Throughout her life she remained active with Camp Mary White and retained her residence in the family’s neighboring Muleshoe Ranch.
Today, many of the women influenced by their stay at Camp Mary White have banded together to restore the old camp to its original grandeur. This, in and of itself, is testimony to the value of Miss Mary’s life’s work.