Girl Scouts dedicate new lodge at Camp
The Martha's Vineyard Girl Scouts dedicated their new lodge at Camp Wampanoag off Middle Road in Chilmark on Tuesday afternoon, a cool summer day redolent of campfires and marshmallow roasts to come.
With its dark green roof and wood shingles, the new lodge blends in nicely with its wooded surroundings. The L-shaped building's high-ceilinged central meeting room appears infused with light, thanks to skylights, yellow-beige walls, and pine flooring. A fireplace, key to providing a fire to sing Girl Scout songs around, features a faux river stone façade and a marble slab donated by Cottle's.
A kitchen big enough to hold a troop of Brownies baking brownies, plus an infirmary, an office, and restrooms - all handicapped accessible - round out the 1,996-square-foot building, which can be used year-round. Two upstairs loft areas provide storage space for camping equipment and a collection of Island Girl Scouts memorabilia.
The board of directors of the Girl Scout Council of Southeastern Massachusetts (GSCSM) voted to name the lodge in memory of Jean L. Silva, one of the Island's most dedicated Girl Scout volunteers.
The dedication of the Jean L. Silva Lodge at Camp Wampanoag closed with everyone joining in a friendship circle, a Girl Scouts tradition. Photos by Mary Baker
"Jean L. Silva was foremost among many here on Martha's Vineyard in following a vision of the good that Girl Scouting can do on behalf of girls," noted Peggy Stevens, GSCSM president, during Tuesday's dedication ceremony.
Ms. Silva's son Ron and his wife, Susan, of West Tisbury attended the dedication with their daughter Andrea, a former Island Girl Scout and Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduate, who lives and works in Los Angeles.
In addition to Ms. Stevens, GSCSM chief executive officer Carolyn Mayo-Brown, board of directors member Jane Puffer, and director of administration Tenney Lantz attended from Middleboro.
The new lodge brought smiles from some happy campers. From left, day camp co-director Alice Robinson, camp site committee member Carrie Welch, Girl Scouts Council (GSC) board member Jane Puffer, camp caretaker Helen Anderson, GSC president Peggy Stevens, GSC chief executive officer Carolyn Mayo-Brown, camp site committee member Jo Ann Murphy, GSC board member Werner Horlbeck, and GSC director of administration Tenney Lantz.
"This lodge is the product of many years of effort by dozens of people, both on Island and off," noted Ms. Stevens, thanking those involved in the project, from the Camp Wampanoag site committee to Chilmark town officials to members of the Martha's Vineyard Commission, which approved construction of the lodge about a year ago.
Ms. Mayo-Brown provided a history of the old lodge, starting with the purchase of the Chilmark property in 1958. The old lodge started life as a 14- by 20-foot garage, moved to the site from Vineyard Haven. By 1960, a bunkhouse, latrine, and three tent platforms were added, and an outdoor sink in 1961. In 1962 the construction of a 16- by 32-foot addition included a fireplace. In the mid-1980s, a new bathroom addition was built.
The lodge was limited to seasonal use, lacking heat and insulation. Although the Girl Scouts made do for many years, the lodge needed more than their tender loving care. Its plywood floors were worn and weak, the brick fireplace unusable, and uninvited campers of the rodent variety moved into the crawl space, Ms Mayo-Brown related.
In addition to the guest speakers, many of the 12 Girl Scouts attending Camp Wampanoag day camp this week took part in the program, their enthusiastic presence reminding everyone what the new lodge is all about. Scouts Destiny Berniger, Kirsten Schuele-VanAken, Amanda Pachico, and Meredith Carlomagno provided just the right touch of solemnity as the color guard. Their performance was their first, according to their proud leader Alice Robinson, who is day camp co-director with Kathy VanAken.
Joining parents and Girl Scouts past and present were builders Mike Carroll and Art Hatchard, along with camp caretaker Helen Anderson. She and her husband John also serve on the Camp Wampanoag site committee with Carrie Welch, Ms. Murphy, and Ms. Robinson.
Doug Ulwick, the architect for the lodge project, sang and accompanied some group songs on his portable keyboard. True to the Girl Scouts, Ms. Robinson closed the ceremony with a friendship circle. Afterwards everyone enjoyed cake, decorated in Girl Scouts colors, white and green. Many recalled fond memories of Ms. Silva, who served on the search committee for the Camp Wampanoag site, and then became a member of the board of trustees for the property. She remained active on the site committee for more than 20 years after the camp was deeded to the newly formed Plymouth Bay Girl Scout Council in 1961.
One of Ms. Silva's most appreciated and lasting legacies is her work as the Island's Girl Scouts historian. Some of her carefully saved memorabilia about Martha's Vineyard Girl Scouts was on display in the new lodge.
"Jean was the most organized woman I've ever seen," said Jo Ann Murphy, a long-time Island Girl Scouts leader and Dukes County Veterans Agent. "She kept track of everything. She also exemplified everything Girl Scouts are about."
Ms. Welch said Ms. Silva helped her with a Girl Scout project and was always willing to provide her resources to everyone.
Ron Silva said his mother "was born a Girl Scout." As Ms. Silva's only granddaughter, his daughter Andrea added, "I knew I was destined to be a Girl Scout." Her grandmother recruited her into scouting early, and she said she especially enjoyed her time as a junior Girl Scout in Ms. Murphy's troop.
One of her favorite experiences was riding with her grandmother in an antique car, representing Girl Scouts in Edgartown's fourth of July parade.
Although the Martha's Vineyard Service Unit conducted a fund-raising campaign, money to build the lodge also came from two Island endowments, the Vincent Fund and Anton Fund, which were established to support scouting on Martha's Vineyard. The GSCSM board of directors allocated capital monies for the project.
The Martha's Vineyard Service Unit will continue to raise funds by selling bricks for a memorial walkway at the lodge, and it welcomes donations. The money they raise also pays for scholarships to camp, off-Island camping trips, and badge sashes for the girls.