Even since the national organization of the Girl Scouts decided to sell off its 67-acre Rockwood retreat in Potomac three years ago, scouts visiting the capital have had to camp in motels -- a most unnatural habitat for them.
Now, as a result of an out-of-court settlement that will preserve the heart of the retreat, the scouts once again will be able to bed down in the woods and the citizens of Montgomery County will have an additional piece of parkland.
A group of nine Washington area girl scouts and troop leaders who filed a class-action suit against their parent organization in January 1979, seeking to block to sale of Rockwood, agreed to drop their suit in exchange for approximately 20 acres of land.
Under a tentative settlement filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court a day before the case was to go to trial, the plaintiffs agreed to drop their suit if the Girl Scouts U.S.A. and the developer would dedicate 20 acres of the land to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission for use by the public and by the Girl Scouts.
The agreements still have to be worked out with the planning commission and some of the stipulations have to be approved by the Montgomery County Council, but according to Anne Pomykala, an adviser to a Bethesda Girl Scout troop, the settlement means scouts will be hosteling in the woods once more.
The land was once a country estate elonging to a wealthy Washington woman, Carolyn G. Caughey, who willed it to the national organization of Girl Scouts for use as a "character building center." Located off MacArthur Boulevard near Great Falls, it includes a brick manor house Caughey used as a summer home, as well as other cottages and tent sites that can accommodate as many as 200 scouts.
But then the national organization, which has a similar facility in a New York forest and did not want to maintain two, arranged to sell the site and an adjacent 26-acre parcel for $4.1 million in April 1978 to Berger Berman Builders Inc, a Rockville developer who wanted to build 180 luxury-priced homes on the land.
After they were unable to persuade the national organization to cancel the sale, the group. Friends of Rockwood, filed suit, saying the sale would violate the conditions of the Caughey will and would prevent the girl scouts from hiking on the property.
The Maryland attorney general's office joined the plaintiff, and helped negotiate an agreement that does not compromise the integrity of Caughey's will.