Recently in Resident Camp Category

Thumbnail image for Liz-Brent_2016.jpg

It is spring time, and we are working hard to get ready for the summer camp season while having lots of large camporees and end-of-the-year spring events for troops.   It is always a delicate balancing act to get things done and accomplished between weekend visits from girls.

Since I've received a lot of feedback recently about camps, I want to go through some of what is going on at the different camp properties.   We are fortunate to have four wonderful camp properties, nicely spaced across the council footprint.   Some of our properties are used very heavily, while others are visited less than six times per year.   Usage and wear and tear on a property does dictate how much of the council's resources are spent on a property.   Please understand that we don't have endless financial resources to put into properties, so we have to be strategic about what we spend and where we spend it.

This is the year of our ACA (American Camp Association) accreditation.   This involves a notebook filled with requirements that have to be fulfilled for a camp property to be accredited.   We go through this process so parents are assured we hold ourselves to a high standard.   We do ACA accreditation on the two camp properties where we hold resident camp, Camp Scoutshire Woods and Kamp Kiwanis.   Accreditation automatically triggers certain maintenance and repairs on each of those properties so they are as well maintained as possible.

Just as a reminder, mowing, weed eating, and working on roads with our heavy rains is often where the ranger spends the most time.   This is always an ongoing issue and one that requires immediate attention.

Kamp Kiwanis - As you are aware if you have been to this property lately, we have a new ranger, Mike Breshears.   He is working to juggle several items that need to be addressed at that property that have accumulated over time.   Add to that, due to some bad storms, his first priority was addressing some very large pine trees that came down in the Mariner unit and around the property.  Mike has been juggling some items in the kitchen and dining hall that need attention, while getting the camp property in better shape in general.   His list includes addressing roof issues in the Ranger bathhouse and the staff house.   There are electrical issues he has to attend to, as well.   He also is working to make things easier for the sailing girls by finishing the sail loft started at the Pioneer Unit.   The Ranger's wood/repair shop (which is not accessible to the girls) needs to be seriously decluttered which will take some to clear.  The two-year-old banana boat for that property is not holding air, so we are discussing options, since that is a very expensive item that has not held up with little use.

Camp Scoutshire Woods - Currently, this camp property does not have a full-time ranger.   Jesse Malone has been covering this camp, as well as Camp Sid.   Scoutshire has had a number of issues that have come about this spring that we are working to get addressed as rapidly as possible.   There is a water leak in the line on the path between Echo Lake and the frog pond.   This necessitates running a trench to determine where the break is and replacing the line.   That work is about to commence.   The line is broken in two places, so we have been trying to juggle that with camporees on that property.   Recently, the dishwasher felt the need to simply die.   We have been nursing that piece of equipment along for many years, so we are discussing the installation of a replacement.   But the hot water heater that feeds that dishwasher also isn't functioning well, so it is a combination problem.   We need to replace the coils in the air conditioning unit in the dining hall, so that is scheduled.   We are working on electrical issues around the camp and doing a lot of scraping showers and bathrooms of the peeling paint and repainting, so lots of work going on there.   Yesterday we discovered the camp tractor is not working and in dire need of repair. That is an essential item.  We plan to hire a ranger for that property after resident camp is over.   We are discussing purchasing a couple of smaller stand up paddleboards for the girls to try at summer camp.

Camp Humming Hills - We have been experiencing a number of issues at this camp, which is a little unusual.   The field lines for the septic system have been dug up, and we are working with a contractor to replace the field lines.   We had an incident with someone going through a tent floor, so we are working to address that.  We aren't using the lake at Humming Hills because of its murkiness, and the unused swim dock was no longer safe, so we had it removed.  We dropped loads of rock to stabilize roads.  A pipe under the road washed out in the spring rains, so that needs to be stabilized.  That camp property is used the least of all the council properties.

Camp Sid Edmonds - Fortunately, we have had few maintenance issues at that property.   We installed a new air conditioning unit at the Scott House earlier in the year.   We have also done some other maintenance work around that property, but generally it is in good shape.   We had some concern about the size and health of the trees on the 69 acres we replanted, so we have been watching those closely.

So, if you ever ask yourself where does all that cookie money go, the list above is a pretty good description of where it goes.   Most of these items are expensive and require qualified electricians, HVAC, plumbers, and foresters.   The rangers can do many things, but often problems require professionals for at least part of the solution. 

Also, we had tried to supply toilet paper and paper towels for our camporees.   Sadly, we will no longer do that.   When it was clear that more than a case of paper towels was taken recently, it seems more prudent to ask each service unit to provide their own.

Thank you, Jesse Malone, for coming to the rescue to serve as the ranger for two camps for a few months.   We appreciate his commitment to the girls of this council.

liz_brent.jpg

It seems hard to believe that it's already time to start planning for resident, but it certainly is.   We have reviewed the comments from girls, had some discussions, and now we are working on what to offer for next summer's resident camp sessions.   To remain aligned with GSUSA, we are continuing to focus on core outdoor skills.   It is a return to some of the long held and cherished values of the Girl Scout program.   Since we don't know what outdoor badges will be offered, we are working to focus on all those program opportunities girls voted on for the 2015 program.

To answer our most often asked question, yes, we will continue to offer the horse program.  We will also continue to offer swimming lessons, so girls can increase their confidence and abilities in and around the water.   In a state that has lots of water, it is important for girls to have swimming skills and confidence around those skills.   Day camp worked for a number of girls who didn't want to spend the night, or their parents weren't comfortable with it.   We had some great successes there with a number of girls returning for a resident camp session, so we will offer day camp again.  Brownie Sampler is another great way to introduce your daughter to camp if you are concerned about the length of a full session.   Leadership camp will also be returning as part of the program.

One of the interesting things I have learned the past few years is that girls who have attended camp for years don't necessarily possess some of the outdoors skills we might expect.   Few know how to build a campfire, for example.   Outdoor cooking skills are somewhat limited.   We have done a great job with survivor skills, so GPS, compass, and some of the outdoor hiking skills are good, but others have not been part of the program.   Our current thinking is we will work to integrate more of those into the program for all girls.

My own foray into Girl Scouts was serving as the assistant director of a summer resident camp, so I understand and resonate with the values camp provides.   Last summer Karlyn Edmonds, COO, and I were able to spend our summer at resident camp.   What a tremendous gift that was.   We were able to see on a daily basis girls who were not deterred by their size, their skill level, their anxiety, or their fear.   One day I watched one of the smallest girls in her group take on the task at hand, master it, do it well, and then show her friends how to do it.   It was simply amazing to watch.

As we work to shape the summer program, we are in search of girl input.   If your daughter or troop has thoughts about the camp program, please contact us at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

liz_brent.jpg

It seems funny that in December we are planning for summer camp, but that we are.   We have to get it done prior to the onslaught of the cookie program as it moves into a full gear.   I thought I would outline some things we are considering, asking for your input.

1.    We will work to offer a day camp option for both camps.   If your daughter/girl doesn't want to spend the night away from home, this is a way for her experience what camp has to offer.   We expect to have girls dropped off at the service center by 8 a.m. each day and return by 5 p.m. each afternoon.

2.    We are considering an older girl program at a different venue.   We discussed a survivor format and another geared toward environmental issues.   One of the venues under discussion has facilities for horses, so another option under consideration is horsemanship for older girls, who have already experienced the horse program at Camp Scoutshire.

3.    We are planning to bring in more outside resources during the camp day so girls can experience things, like meeting a raptor or seeing a king snake up close, that this area has to offer.   The program will be geared to earning Girl Scout badges, as well as a great learning experience.   We are educators and want this to be a fun and educational experience.

4.    As a part of that program enhancement, we will be having more GSSA staff and volunteers working at camp during the day.   We know we have volunteers with great expertise, who are not in a position to leave their families for a week, so we think this might be a good option for them.

5.    We have dramatically cut the number of camp sessions offered, since we had many more offerings than we could fill, so the curriculum will move to a thematic offering with programs embedded at different age levels.   Hopefully, that will simplify choices.   As a part of that change, we will have every girl receive an opportunity to try all activities camp has to offer.   We received a lot of feedback last year that this didn't happen, so this year we will work to address that.

6.    We are also discussing a day camp program for older girls on robots in or around the Montgomery area in the late summer.

On another note, the Mobile County School District lags most of the rest of the council as to when classes are over, so we have to work to accommodate as many as possible as we plan our dates.

The tentative camp program dates for summer 2014 are:

Camp Scoutshire Woods Week 1: June 8 - 13, 2014

Camp Scoutshire Woods Week 2: June 15 - 20, 2014

Kamp Kiwanis Week 1: June 22 - 27, 2014

Kamp Kiwanis Week 2: June 29 - July 3, 2014 (camp will end on the 3rd, to allow for an enjoyable 4th of July)

The camp program themes are:

Pioneer Rustic Girl Camp

Outdoor Adventure Camp

Creative Arts Camp

Experimental Explorers Camp (STEM)

We welcome comments or feedback on any of the above.  Please direct these to communications@girlscoutssa.org.  Thanks! 


liz_brent.jpg

I can do it!!!!!   This is the time of year where we hear this mantra uttered about a variety of things.    It's when girls go off to camp, leaving the comfort of their air conditioned homes and sleep in a tent in the great outdoors.    This is daunting for lots of the population, but once you've done it, you recognize the wonder of the night sky and the woods.

It's the time of year when a girl who really doesn't like the water much and has relied on her water wings too long, returns capable of putting her face in lake water and able to swim from one side of the dock to the other unassisted and unafraid.   How did that happen in such a short time?

This is the time of year when a girl who hates spiders and has screamed on sight each time she sees one, now understands that they are part of the circle of life, providing an important piece of the puzzle.   She has seen a snake and not run; she's moved out of her comfort zone.

It's the time of year when girls stretch themselves and work on being girls of courage, confidence and character.   Events at camp are unpredictable and part of life.   It might be a snake, it might be a spider, it might be new food, it might be girls she has never met, it might be sleeping in a tent in the rain.   I have an abiding respect for a child who takes a chance, moves out of her comfort zone, and discovers, "I can do it!"


liz_brent.jpg

We have them! How about the new Girl Scout car sticker for those who have achieved their GS Leader License? The cost is great -- free if you have completed the process.   Maybe you'd like the new council patch, which is beautiful and represents something special from each geographic region of our council.  Or, if you are in need of something for your daughter, granddaughter or niece, what about a gift of summer resident camp?  

Six of us spent a day this week working on the 2013 resident camp program.   We retained some of the most popular programs, such as Survivor or the Amazing Race, horsemanship, and swimming sessions, but added exciting new sessions in theater, robotics, stargazing, float trips for advanced canoers or kayakers.    You can give the gift of resident camp for the holidays at a discount. For $80, you will receive a $100 credit, good for any resident camp session.  You or your family member has to purchase the gift certificate by December 19 (visit our Online Shop, call or come by either of the Service Centers for details).   These are good for any resident camp session.  More details will be coming weekly on the camp program as we do teasers during the cookie program for summer resident camp.

Both council shops have all sorts of fun things for the Girl Scout in your life.   The prices range from $2.50 for patches on up to some nice Girl Scout clothing.   These items are a fun way to show your loyalty to Girl Scouting and have some great holiday stocking stuffers for that special girl in your life.

Monthly Archives