Camp Tanasi, located on 461 acres of scenic wooded land on the banks of Norris Lake, has served as a camp for Girl Scouts since 1957. In the early 50s, the Girl Scouts Board of Directors realized there was a definite need for a new camp facility. The land by Norris Lake was bought on July 28, 1955 from Tennessee Valley Authority for $15,000. Most of the payment came solely from Girl Scout Cookie funds saved from previous years, with $2,000 being borrowed and paid back the following year, also from cookie proceeds!
When Tanasi first opened that September, records show 36 girls and 5 staff attended camp, those numbers grew to 495 registered girls in 1962! Activities initially included boating, canoeing, swimming, and fishing, but quickly expanded to sessions on lashing, first aid, compass, and knots. The first year Tanasi was open, they offered "Pioneer Camp," where girls traveled to a campsite by boat and lived in the tents for a month, cooking all their own meals! Tanasi didn't have any permanent buildings until the early 60s and was only accessible by boat. This also meant the Girl Scouts did ALL the work— cooking, creating, cleaning, fire building—to earn badges!
Originally open to just high schoolers, Tanasi expanded the camp to sixth and seventh grade girls in April 1960 with Tenting at Tanasi. The cost was $40 for a 2-week camp session. Tanasi got an upgrade in ’65 with the installment of the Tanasi lodge, where all meals were served. The lodge included a fireplace, a big piano, record player, and a P.A. system. Swimming was a fan favorite among all the girls, so an Olympic sized pool opened in 1966. At that time, 600 girls were anticipated to use it that summer. Synchronized swimming classes were even offered!
During the 1982 World’s Fair held in Knoxville, TN, Tanasi opened its doors to Girl Scouts and those with connections to Girl Scouts so they could stay on the property while visiting the fair. There were more than 700 group reservations and almost 11,000 people, from across the nation. Girl Scouts from 41 states stayed at the Andersonville, TN camp. At the time, Tanasi accommodated 192 people a night with 48 tents available. In preparation of the huge flux of campers, Tanasi updated and upgraded everything, including adding 51 platform tents!
By 1991, Tanasi added a lakeside trail with wheelchair accessibility, renovated the craft house, winterized the dining hall, and extended the amphitheater. March 12, 1995 marked the day Deer Point opened, adding a new troop house! Girl Scouts were invited to name the house in a contest, and the name suggested by Jennifer & Elizabeth Buckner, was selected by the property management judges. The cabin is a winterized lodge, accommodates 40 people, and is handicap accessible.
Today, Camp Tanasi houses a waterfront program area, pool, cabins and tents, a climbing tower, and a challenge course. Girl Scouts can use the camp for day visits and events, troop camping, service unit encampments and our highly-popular summer camp. Summer camp themes this year includes Weird Science, Cooking with Cookies, Inventor Workshop, and Party in the USA! Whether girls go for a day, a week, or longer, Girl Scout camping gives girls the opportunity to grow, explore, and have fun!