GSUSA recently worked on introducing new badges using girl voting and input to determine what badges to pursue at what age level. One set of badges revolve around the outdoors. Girl Scouts has always been a leader in outdoors education, so this was a perfect match for them.
The Girl Scout experience offers prime forests, hiking trails, lakes and opportunities for girls in the outdoors. My own view is that we offer some of the most pristine and best property in the State of Alabama. We boast four very different camps, with differing opportunities at each. I recognize they are not necessarily proximate to one another, but each has something unique to offer.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built Camp Scoutshire Woods, just a quick 45-minute drive from Mobile, when the economy was really a wreck during the Great Depression. The original buildings and lake were developed only from materials taken from that property, which is one of the things that make it unique and special. The lake has a spillway that empties into a stream that is fun to wade in. There is a wonderful hiking trail around the perimeter of the camp with different side trips that offer pitcher plants, a bog, and other interesting opportunities to see nature. The frog pond on the property is wonderful, with a variety of frogs calling for mates throughout most of the year. Our rangers have been rebuilding the porch on the recreation hall to bring it back to its original look using hand-planed Cyprus planks.
Camp Sid Edmonds in Bay Minette had a great deal of its pine plantation clear cut in the summer of 2014. The result is an opportunity to really understand how a pine plantation works. The quail are abundant, as are the snakes if the weather is conducive. The inner part of the camp property was left intact, so you can still canoe in the large lake, have a campfire at the fire ring at the Scott House, or hike the perimeter of the lake. The pine plantation will be replanted after the holidays, so we will be seeing first hand how the pines mature.
Another illustration of a good pine plantation is at Camp Humming Hills. This is our largest property and has three lakes; one of which requires a very lengthy hike and is deep in the woods. Humming Hills has the most unique dock I've ever seen, seemingly put together when the builder either didn't have a level or didn't care if it was hilly. The pine plantation at Humming Hills is 3.5 years old, so the 117 acres we planted illustrate how quickly loblolly pine can mature under good conditions. This property is the highest point in Coffee County, so you can see forever if you are on Tower Hill up high enough to get a good scan of the surrounding beauty. The wildlife there is very abundant. There's long been conversation about a jaguar seen there. This has been met with some skepticism, but not long ago someone not far from Humming Hills did capture the photo of a jaguar on their game camera. Humming Hills is located to the north of Elba.
Kamp Kiwanis is a property situated on the western arm of Lake Martin, near Eclectic. It boasts 2.5 miles of Lake Martin shoreline. It has two sloughs and islands. One of the islands is accessible all the time, the other serves as a great place for spending the night during a survivor camp, but can be reached when the lake level is lower in the winter months. If aquatic endeavors interest you, Lake Martin is the place to go. It houses the council sailing program and pontoon boat.
For a mere $15, you can become a Girl Scout and for modest fees access all these properties by attending council programs, or with your troop or service unit. During this time of year when many are talking about their hunting and fishing camps, I always think the girls and adults I have the privilege of serving really have "camps." They have some of the best properties and opportunities the State of Alabama has to offer. If you love the outdoors, being a Girl Scout is the best investment you can make.