Camp: April 2014 Archives

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Every council with camp properties has the responsibility (and cost) of proper stewardship of the land.  Ideally, this stewardship not only enhances the property for the use of our girls, but also sets up a future stable income stream.

We use a registered forester to manage all our properties because of their expertise and ability to deal in the complex world of tree farming.  Several years ago, I was told that our trees at Camp Sid would bring some money when we needed it because we had some hardwoods there that are desirable.   Since the cookie program did not reap the desired results this year, I called our forester about doing some selective thinning of the trees.   

Our forester called back to say that what he thought were some select hardwoods are really slash pines, which are not productive as a revenue stream.    Rather than leave this property and not turn it into a revenue stream for the girls, we will likely be doing a clear cut of the exterior 69 acres of the property; this is the part that lies outside or to the right of the road.   With the income reaped from the clear cut, we will replant and get that 69 acres into production.   Another facet of that project will be thinning the property to the left of the road, so there isn't a lot of fuel if a fire would break out.   Thus, this makes that part of the property more usable by girls.

A few years from now, as the planted trees become larger, we will reduce the trees on the left side of the road and put that part of the property into production.   We have done this same thing at Camp Humming Hills.   The trees up there are about three years old and they are now 5-7 feet tall.   This has not impeded troops from using the property.   By doing part of the property, then later doing the other part, you always have trees at different facets of maturity, since wind and storms can level an entire forest. This insulates the property from loss.

This is rather short notice for intensive property work, but there are some timber companies eager for this type of work, so we will capitalize on that, working to reap the most for the girls of this council.   As we look down the road, we need to find additional revenue streams to insulate from the ups and downs of the cookie program, which is our largest source of income each year.

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I came to Girl Scouts by way of Girl Scout camp.   When I was in college, I served as the assistant director of a Girl Scout camp that had 6- to 11-year-olds.   They graduated from our camp and went to the larger and more exciting one on Lake of the Ozarks for the older girls.   What a glorious job it was!

My job was the camp program. I was out in the woods all day, moving from unit to unit spelling staff so they could get their breaks.   I had an ancient Schwinn bicycle that I rode through the center part of the camp, but most of the camp was inaccessible by bicycle, and I had to hike, often alone at night, in the dark.   I learned a lot about the beauty of the woods in the evening with the sounds and movement of animals.

Why do I mention this?   Because camp is a great way for a girl who might not excel at sports or at school to recognize that she has courage, confidence and character.   I am always stunned and amazed at the girl who finds a snake in her tent and blissfully walks over to tell her counselor.   No screaming, no yelling, just a nonchalant note to the counselor that someone needs to take care of the snake so she can change her clothes to go swimming.

In today's world, where we have technology leashes through our cell phones, laptops, video games, and other devices to keep us in touch, it really leaves us out of touch -- out of touch with nature, with the melodies of the birds and the foraging of raccoons in untended trashcans.   I was spending the night at Kamp Kiwanis awhile back, when there was a huge commotion after dark. We discovered that the noise was made by an armadillo, waddling around looking for food.   Someone I was with from the staff mentioned she had never seen a live armadillo in her life.

We have some great camp opportunities this summer besides resident camp, if your daughter is worried about spending the night away.   We have a day camp option for both resident camps.   We also have established the dates with the Alabama Wildlife Federation's Lanark property in Millbrook to offer two-day camps there.   Last year, that camp received rave reviews from the girls.   We also have Sail Away, the sailing camp for girls who want to learn a lifetime sport, sailing.

We have some great opportunities for girls to increase their skills and get outdoors with their friends.   Even if their friends don't attend, we work to be sure they have others to rely on while they are at camp.   You would be surprised how spending time away from technology broadens a girl's curiosity.   Check out all our camps at www.girlscoutssa.org/camp.  I'm planning on being up at camp all summer this year; the best job you can imagine.

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