Cowpasture River

Camp Okahahwis Scholarship Fund History

Camp Okahahwis, said to be the oldest camp in the south, was founded in 1918 at Wilson Springs, Virginia in Goshen pass on the North River. From this original site the camp was relocated across the river in Rockbridge Baths, Virginia until it closed in 1966. During its nearly 50-year history, Camp Okahahwis was beloved by hundreds of campers.

Today, campers scattered over the world continue to hold a remarkable love for the place and the ideas which Ellie Frayser Chesterman, “Mrs. Chess” as she was known to the campers and counselors alike, instilled in all who came in contact with her and the camp. Mrs. Chess owned and directed Camp Okahahwis from the start in 1918 until it was bought in 1953 by Janet Johnson Stern, “J.J.” Stern directed the camp until its closing in 1966.

The activities of Camp Okahahwis were many and varied to meet the interests and desires of all the campers. The counselors were hand-picked by Mrs. Chess and were most often former campers. Among the activities were swimming (in the river and later the pool); horseback riding; basketball; tennis; archery; arts and crafts; drama; dance; song contests and hiking. There were overnight treks up Jump Mountain and a long climb to Castle Rock. There were also ongoing competitions held between cabins. The counselors and the Orange and Black teams competed in every facet of camp life showing spirit and fairness in every way. Each August, the season was ended by an eagerly awaited final banquet where the announcement of the winning team was made. This was also when the camp’s Honor Girls were announced with the highest honor given to the girl chosen as “Camp Spirit” – the camper who exemplified the Spirit of Camp Okahahwis.

In 2001, the alumnae of Camp Okahahwis established a scholarship to acknowledge and perpetuate the values of their summer camp and provide young women with financial need access to such experiences. The Camp Okahahwis Scholarship Fund, a component fund of The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia, is a memorial to their camp and provides partial camping scholarships to qualified young women who wish to attend Camp Mont Shenandoah; an overnight camp for young women whose values and summer camp experience best reflects those of the Camp Okahahwis – a place where campers live together under the ideals of fair play and good sportsmanship, where every person is a contributor, and where a love of nature and of God is encouraged.

Camp Okahahwis 2017 Scholarship Application Deadline: March 1, 2017

To apply for the Camp Okahahwis Scholarship, an enrolled camper is required to complete the Applicant Information Sheet

The camper’s parents or guardians are also required to provide a letter that (no more than one page please) that:

  • Confirming the child’s desire to attend camp;
  • Describes the aspects of the child’s character that relate to her ability to work with others in a spirit of fairness and helpfulness; and
  • Provides an explanation of financial need.

Although the exact award levels do change from year to year, the Camp Okahahwis scholarship does not provide for the full cost of camp tuition.

Please forward all the application materials together on or before March 1, 2017. You may send applications by email to with the subject line: Camp Application, or by mail to the address below. Please note that mailed applications must be postmarked on or before the deadline of March 1, 2017.

Ms. Shannon Hagginbothom
The Community Foundation, Inc.
7501 Boulders View Drive, Suite 110
Richmond, Virginia 23225

An email will be sent to the camper’s parent or guardian to confirm receipt of the application.

The applications will be reviewed and awards will be determined by the first week of March. The scholarship recipient and their parent(s) or guardian(s) will be notified by letter from The Community Foundation. Each scholarship will be made payable directly to Camp Mont Shenandoah in the name of the camper.

The Camp Okahahwis Scholarship is a component fund of The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia. You may direct questions about the scholarship to Shannon Hagginbothom at The Community Foundation at 804-330-7400 or by e-mail to:

Click here to download the application.