What’s New at Camp? (Fall 2019, Part 2)

By Madeline Jackson, GSGCF Property Manager

Image by Jorge Guillen from Pixabay

Chippy, our new GSGCF camp mascot, is back with more camp updates! Last week, we shared a list of improvements made to Camp Caloosa. This week, we’re highlighting what’s new at Camp Honi Hanta. Chippy also has a few general tips and reminders for all campers. Let’s get started!

A number of Girl Scout troops and individual girl members worked with adult volunteers on a wide variety of service and highest award projects, including:

  • Painting picnic tables in the screen houses 
  • Painting G.I.R.L.-themed benches
  • Painting the Equipment Depot exterior (Troop 267)
  • Painting the Eagles Nest Bathhouse exterior (Troop 408)
  • Painting the Weavers Nest Bathhouse exterior, deep cleaning and organizing the Manatee House kitchen cabinets, deep cleaning the carpeting, and trimming the front entrance (Troop 149)
  • Painting the Weavers Nest Bathhouse flooring (Troop 489)
  • Weeding fire circles and adding crushed shell to raise them
  • Designing and constructing an elevated fire pit with benches for large-group campfires (Mia Haynes)
  • Decorating the Manatee House leader bedroom and bathroom (Troop 361)
  • Installing a pollinator garden and eliminating some of the invasive Brazilian pepper trees (Troop 140)
  • Assembling and installing bat houses with informational flyers in the screen rooms (Troop 86)
  • Designing, assembling, and installing campfire wood sheds for three of the fire circles (Troop 607)
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Have you noticed how amazing the Manatee House exterior looks?

Adult volunteers also did a wonderful job with projects including:

  • Clearing paths for additional camp exploration and back roadways for emergency egress and first responder access
  • Scraping camp roadways and installing new shell for greater stability
  • Building a climbing wall mulch containment area to prepare for belay bench installation
  • Repairing nozzles in the Rain Forest and repainting the wood frame
  • Chopping wood left from Hurricane Irma for use in fire circles (stored at ranger garage)
  • Replacing stairs and ramps at Armadillo Alley Cabin #2 and painting the interior walls of all campsite bathhouses (thank you, Publix/United Way Suncoast volunteers!)
  • Installing two standard beds in Armadillo Alley Cabin #2 for campers with disabilities
  • Building and installing new archery stands
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Publix volunteers rebuilt the ramp at Armadillo Alley cabin #2 as part of the 2018 United Way Day of Caring.

In addition, our council staff has been hard at work to provide the following:

  • A coffee maker, new dishwashing bin, and new Coleman stove for each screen house, and a broom for each cabin
  • Organized storage with added shelving in the lodge kitchen
  • A “Rainy Day” room in the Lodge with board games
  • New keypad front-gate entry access for a higher degree of safety
  • Deadbolt locks in the majority of the bathhouses, to serve as true “lock-down” areas
  • New PFD vests at the boathouse (some in larger sizes) for kayaking and canoeing (thanks to a grant from the Norman and Phyllis Siskel Donor Advised Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County)
  • Additional kayaks and paddles so larger groups can kayak together
  • New lifeguard board, portable pool umbrellas, and chairs
  • Refurbished “Spider Web” low ropes course element
  • Lightweight plastic tables and chairs in the Roundhouse
  • New, low-maintenance, reinforced benches and tables, thanks to a generous grant from the Bradenton Kiwanis Foundation
  • New stairs and decks for the Weaver’s Nest cabins
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The new firewood stations are so handy!

A few camp reminders:

  • Please turn over all your ash buckets once you’ve cleaned your fire circle. We don’t want them to collect water, which helps breed mosquitos and rust out the buckets.
  • Check for all your belongings. There is a lost and found bin in each camp’s Lodge.
  • Don’t forget to leave a fresh 35 gallon+ trash bag in all the garbage cans in your campsite.
  • Each lodge has the following supplies available: wasp spray, D batteries for smoke detectors, and extra light bulbs.
  • Nobody should wear sandals or flip flops. ONLY closed-toe shoes are proper footwear for camp.

If you worked on a project not listed here, please let us know so we can give you a shout out next time! Don’t forget, there is a Honi Hanta Hero patch that the girls can earn for doing a service project at camp. There is always something to do to improve camp and leave it better than we found it.

Subscribe to the GSGCF blog and watch for quarterly camp updates. There will also be tips for troops to make their camp stays fun and safe, along with some potential service project ideas.

What’s New at Camp? (Fall 2019, part 1)

By Madeline Jackson, GSGCF Property Manager

Image by Jorge Guillen from Pixabay
Chippy has some exciting updates to share!

Chippy, our new GSGCF camp mascot, has been all a chatter wanting to inform everyone about what’s been happening at our camps over the last few years, so she is going to give you quarterly updates to make sure you are in the know. These updates will include projects completed by council staff and volunteers, Girl Scout troops performing service projects, and Girl Scout members working on highest award projects. There will also be tips for troops to make their camp stays fun and safe, along with some potential service project ideas. Let’s start with a review of highlights from Camp Caloosa.

A number of Girl Scout troops and individual girl members worked with adult volunteers on a wide variety of needed projects, including:

  • Painting screen house picnic tables and fire circle stones
  • Building stable benches for fire circles at Pelican Perch and Flamingo Flats (Troops 133 & 153)
  • Assembling and placing new outdoor picnic tables and benches throughout the camp, thanks to a generous grant from the Claiborne and Ned Foulds Foundation (Troop 664)
  • Installing a solar light for the flag pole (Troop 495)
  • Deep cleaning and disinfecting the refrigerators
  • Cleaning and organizing the Equipment Depot (Troops 657, 658, & 659)
The Equipment Depot is looking awesome!
The Equipment Depot is looking awesome!
  • Painting the upstairs sleeping quarters in the Chalet (Troop 405)
  • Researching, creating, and installing informational posters about local plant and animal life in the unit screen houses (Troop 374)
  • Installing a sign at the Equipment Depot and creating a portable outdoor activity kit (Troop 427)
  • Installing owl boxes with informative literature (Troop 756)
  • Installing back trail signage with educational boards (Troop 354)
  • Clearing back paths for additional camp exploration
Our new outdoor furniture is low-maintence and will save on repair time and expenses for years to come.
Our new outdoor furniture is low-maintence and will save on repair time and expenses for years to come.

Volunteer Jason Hodson did an amazing job with projects including:

  • Scraping camp roadways and installing new shell for more stability
  • Widening the camp entrance to provide better traffic flow for large events
  • Elevating fire circles with shell to prevent flooding after minor rains
  • Installing a keypad gate entry to replace the combination lock and chain to provide greater security
  • Assembling a pergola outside the lodge for outdoor movies, skits, and other performances

In addition, our council staff has been hard at work to provide the following:

  • Dishwashing bins for the screen houses
  • New PFD vests at the boathouse (including larger sizes) for kayaking and canoeing
  • Additional kayaks and kayak paddles
  • Additional archery supplies to update aged equipment (supported by a grant from The Daniel R. and Anne M. Harper Foundation)
  • A new refrigerator at the Timberford House and new carpet for the sleeping quarters in the Chalet (with grant funding from Claiborne and Ned Foulds Foundation)
The new solar lighting provides proper illumination for Old Glory.
The new solar lighting provides proper illumination for Old Glory.

If you worked on a project not listed here, please let us know so we can give you a shout out next time! And don’t forget, there is a Caloosa Champion patch that girls can earn for doing a service project at camp. We need help with painting and signage projects, trimming trails, etc. There is always something to do to improve camp and leave it better than we found it!

Girl Scouts Ensure a Happy Birthday for Local Foster Children

Birthday parties can be easily taken for granted. Most of us can count on family and friends to come together with gifts, balloons, decorations, and of course, a birthday cake complete with candles! But for children in the foster care system, a traditional birthday party isn’t always a given.

Thanks to the generosity of Girl Scouts in the Manatee 4 Service Unit, a number of local children will have everything they need to celebrate their next birthday. The girls collected and donated supplies to create “birthday kits” to be distributed to children in Manatee, DeSoto, and Sarasota Counties via the Safe Children Coalition.

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The birthday kits include such items as cake mix, frosting, and candles; baking pans; party hats, decorations, and favors; plates, cups, and plastic utensils; goody bags; party invitations; gift wrap; and gifts.

Girl Scout troop leader Karey Papin, who works as a Registered Nurse Case Manager for the Safe Children Coalition, said that there are currently about 1,450 children in foster care or living with a relative caregiver or in facility care. “We unfortunately had a severe spike in [the number of] children this year,” she explained.

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With so many children and families in need, the birthday kits couldn’t have come at a better time. When the project was completed, approximately 45 kits were ready to go. That’s a lot of celebrating!

“Every single person can impact the joy of children going through this experience,” Papin added. “We need and welcome more outreach projects on every level to support these families and children.” If your troop would like to learn more about the many ways they can help, contact the Safe Children Coalition at 866-661-5656.

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Grants in Action: Community Troops

Since 2011, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida has reached out to girls living in under-served areas through fully funded Community Troops. Five years after its official launch, the Community Troop program is stronger than ever, thanks to generous community supporters and volunteers.

Troop 1042 Palmetto Elementary

The Wilson-Wood Foundation was one of the first to support Community Troops in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Their 2015-16 grant of $15,000 has made possible a variety of programs and experiences for Community Troops from Gocio and Tuttle Elementary Schools, Booker Elementary and Middle Schools, Greater Hurst AME Chapel, and the Laurel Civic Association, as well as Palmetto Elementary School and the DeSoto Boys and Girls Club.

Garden Party 4

So, what does a Community Troop do? Everything! From field trips in the community to outdoor programs, service projects, earning badges, and more, girls in Community Troops enjoy all that Girl Scouting has to offer. A few highlights from this year include visits with the Sarasota Garden Club and Sarasota Police Department, a special camp day at Honi Hanta, and end-of-year troop celebrations.

K9 Unit 4

The Community Troop program is also thriving in Lee and Collier Counties. All told, there are 32 Community Troops with 532 girls council-wide. Support for Community Troops in 2015-16 has come from a variety of sources, including The Wilson-Wood Foundation, Schulze Family Foundation, Suncoast Credit Union, Jerome and Mildred Paddock Foundation, the League Club, Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key, Collier County Bar Foundation, and United Ways of Suncoast, South Sarasota, Collier County, and Lee/Hendry/Glades Counties.

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~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Honoring PFC Anthony

Jennifer Pierre cropTroop 1083, led by Helen Sundgren, meets at Anthony Park in Naples.  When they learned the park was named in honor of PFC Charlie P. Anthony, they wanted to find out more.  They discovered that PFC Anthony had grown up on the very street where the park is located, and that he had served in Vietnam, where he lost his life in 1969.

Wanting to share this piece of history with others, the girls made posters about Anthony to display at the park. They recognized him on Veterans Day and his birthday.  When one of the Brownies in the troop told her grandmother about Charlie Anthony, the grandmother told her she had known him and she came to speak to the girls at a troop meeting.

After learning more about this local hero, the girls thought the whole community should know about Charlie Anthony and his service to our country.  After talking with Anthony’s family and showing pictures of the posters they had made to the City of Naples Community Services Department, Parks and Recreation staff, and the City Council, it was agreed that a plaque should be placed at the park in his honor.

Charlie Anthony plaque crop

A ceremony to unveil the plaque was held on Saturday, March 12, 2016.  City of Naples Mayor John F. Sorey III led the program.  Cadette Girl Scout Jennifer P. of Troop 1083 spoke about their troop’s involvement in the project.  The Macedonia Baptist Church youth choir, including several Girl Scouts, performed for the crowd.  And members of the Anthony family traveled from around the country to participate in the celebration.

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Members of Troop 1083 with leader Helen Sundgren and co-leader Anna Gil.

What started as a simple history lesson grew into a community-wide project, spearheaded by Girl Scouts. Thanks to the girls in Troop 1083, we are now much more aware of PFC Charlie P. Anthony’s legacy and his place in the history of Anthony Park.

–Barbara VanEssen is Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s Community Development Manager for Collier County

Guest Blog: A Silver Award with Wings

Bradenton Girl Scouts Plant Butterfly Garden

by Olivia, guest blogger

Hi, I am Olivia, a member of Girl Scout Troop 16 in Bradenton.crowley4 crop

As our Girl Scout Silver Award project, my troop restored the butterfly garden at the Crowley Museum and Nature Center.

The Silver Award has very specific qualifications and is one of the highest honors a Cadette Troop can earn. One of the main qualifications is to pick a project that has a lasting impact on the community with a commitment of at least 50 hours of service time.

At one time or another, all my troop members assisted in the project. In December 2014, we began with a trip to Selby Gardens for a private tour. We met with the caretaker of their butterfly garden to learn the basics of maintaining a healthy butterfly garden, and to get an idea of what Florida native plants we could use. We learned to use plants that sustained the larvae population. Selby provided us with a list of butterflies and butterfly-friendly plants, and the list was very useful in deciding what plants we wanted to use and what was native to Florida.

We designated a portion of our cookie booth proceeds to fund the project and in March 2015, we started clearing the area with only gloves, a shovel, and two spades. With our modest amount, we purchased the few plants we could and planted them, but there was still much more work to be done. That is when I applied for a grant from the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. Because of the generous grant we received, we were able to purchase more tools and many more plants so that we could complete the project before the heat of summer kicked in.

Some of the plants we planted were Prostrate Porter weed (Strachytarpheta jamaicentis), Tropical Sage (Salvia coccina), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Firebush (Hamelia patens), Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa), and Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea). We purchased our plants from both Florida Native Plants and Crowley nurseries.

Cadettes from Troop 16 (left to right): Olivia, Emily, Sydney, and Delaney.

Cadettes from Troop 16 (left to right): Olivia, Emily, Sydney, and Delaney.

We are proud of the work we accomplished and are committed to maintaining the butterfly garden throughout the years. We could not have accomplished this without the help of the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and all the people we met along the way who took the time to educate us. Most of all, we thank our parents and our leaders, Antoinette Yagy, Suzanne McLauchlin, and our mentors, Gerald Yagy and Mike Amado.

Be sure to check out all the pictures we posted on the Serenoa Chapter’s Facebook page! We encourage everyone to come out to Crowley Museum and Nature Center and enjoy the peacefulness of the gardens and the beauty of nature!

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Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Sept. 2015 newsletter of the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, and is shared here with their permission.