Girl Scout Camp, the Buddy System and One Bolt of Lightning

Two former Camp Pisgah campers reunite after 51 years
In the summer of 1967, Linda Walker had just moved to a new town. Beginning the summer in Murphy, NC was not high on her list and her mom quickly realized this and began seeking out opportunities for her and her brothers to get to know people.

Across the street from Linda’s new house lived a girl her age who happened to be getting ready to spend a week at Girl Scout camp in Brevard. With some quick maneuvers, Linda’s mom got the necessary paperwork, filled out the application forms and found a spot for Linda to attend Camp Pisgah with her new friend Lisa.

While all this was going on in Murphy, miles down the road in Brevard, Laurie Luna was packing up for her annual trip to Camp Pisgah. She had gone to camp many summer and couldn’t wait to see who her camp buddy would be this year. It turns out this buddy would end up being one she would never forget!

Laurie and Linda
Linda (l) and Laurie (r) meet each other at Camp Pisgah in July

Once at camp, Linda and Lisa were placed in the same tent as Laurie, and Laurie and Linda were made official camp buddies. Throughout the week, the girls settled into camp life and all the activities associated with it.

One afternoon, while the campers were down at the lake learning about canoeing, a quick, powerful thunderstorm came rolling in, sending the girls running back to their tents to stay dry. When Linda got back to the tent, she quickly took action to secure the flaps so their beds wouldn’t get soaked. She wasn’t quite tall enough to reach the flap from the ground so she decided to step up on the metal head frame of her cot. As she was doing this, a giant bolt of lightning crashed down, striking the ground and traveling a path to Linda’s metal cot leg. The volt went straight up, striking Linda and leaving her unconscious on the tent floor.

The other girls had quickly run out of the tent when the lightning hit, trying to get somewhere safer and drier. But Laurie, having the Girl Scout buddy system ingrained in her, turned around to help Linda. She found her on the floor and realized quickly she needed help. She ran to get a counselor, who gave Linda CPR and quickly got her headed to the hospital.

Linda ended up being in the hospital, unconscious, for several days. Laurie came by to see Linda when the camp week was over, but the two girls were not able to talk to each other and Laurie left feeling hopeless, assuming that Linda would pass away.

It wasn’t until this past year when Linda reached out to NPR’s Missed Connections program that the two women were finally able to re-connect and talk to one another. Although Laurie had moved from the area, her sister heard the NPR story and told Laurie she needed to respond. After 51 years, Laurie and Linda had a phone conversation on NPR about what happened that fateful day.

In July, Laurie and Linda came back to where their story began- Camp Pisgah. They toured camp, deciding that Misty Mountain was where their tent was that year, and had the opportunity to talk and share their story with current campers. Both women were so excited to finally meet and reconnect to their Girl Scout camp memories.

“I was so glad- ecstatic- to meet Laurie and thank the person who saved my life. My thanks could never capture the enormity of the impact Laurie had on me by coming back for her buddy,” said Linda. “My family, the 30 years of classroom teaching, my grandchildren, so much is because of the buddy system and one young Girl Scout who was willing to follow what she had been taught.”

Laurie credits her Girl Scout experiences for making her an independent, self-sufficient adult and finding success in her career as a senior project manager. She was a Girl Scout through her senior year of high school and is now a lifetime member.  “I feel I have subconsciously always lived by the Girl Scout code- it has made me a better person and better adult. Girl Scouting should be a prerequisite for life,” said Laurie.

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