Mennonite Girls Went Camping

in the 1940s

with a tepee

bringing their own food


a box camera


How Many Were There?

There were six women – unless a wo/man lurking in the bushes grabbed the camera and snapped this shot. Go ahead and count . . .

When Did They Go?

The date appears to be March 1941. Because Pennsylvania would be cold then, I’m guessing the film was developed long after the camping trip the previous summer or fall. (I was not even a twinkle in my mother’s eye then.)


What Did They Do?

They raised their own tent, made their own food, enjoyed row-boating on the river – and hiked, most likely.

Aunt Ruthie Longenecker rowing boat and enjoying lollipop with camping friend


How Were They Dressed?

No khaki pants among them, or tennis shoes. They all wore dresses and covered their heads, most of the time with the Mennonite prayer cap.


Why the Difference in Prayer Cap Size?

What determined the size, I wonder . . .

  • Amount or thickness of hair?
  • Degree of plainness set by the woman’s family of origin?
  • Whether the girl went to a town or country church? (Members of country churches typically wore plainer garb than town churches in Lancaster County, PA of this era.)


What Did They Eat?

I see dishes and a pan on one of the photos. What do you think they cooked? I’m pretty sure it was not a menu featured on the website of Mennonite Girls Can Cook.

Recently I spotted a Pinterest image of individual service bags for cooking tacos, dinner by a campfire from a Mennonite Girls Can Cook menu.

Credit: Mennonite Girls Can Cook, Pinterest Photo


How Did They Capture Their Memories?

Gone were the days when only professional photographers took pictures. With cameras like this Eastman Kodak box camera available, ordinary people could freeze a moment in time whenever they chose.




Your Thoughts please . . .

  • Guess what the women may have cooked over a campfire.
  • Note the difference in size of prayer caps. What do you know about degrees of plainness among Mennonites of this era, 1940s and 50s?
  • About Mennonites in this century?
  • What else do you see in the photos you think others may miss?
  • What camping memories can you share?