Fall 2021 HVOT Update
This summer, Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood hosted successful summer camp sessions. Even though we had to limit attendance to half capacity to ensure girls’ safety, both camps hosted hundreds of campers and gave them an immersive experience where they connected to our local ecosystems, made new friends, and stretched their comfort zones.
Now that summer camp has ended, we’re investing our time in cultivating diverse partners and funding sources. We have applied for grants that would benefit Wai Lani, Dorothy Thomas, and Indian Echo.
Additionally, we’ve been invited into a second round of applications for another AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) grant. The last time we received this grant, NCCC provided a team of volunteers who assisted our rangers with much-needed repairs and maintenance that wasn’t feasible for our rangers to complete on their own. Should we be selected for this grant, we have a robust plan for this team that will benefit all four of our camp properties.
Our rangers are busy welcoming campers, encampments, and troop meetings back to camp on a regular basis. We’re so excited to see more and more activities take place at camp as the membership year progresses.
There has also been a number of High Award and Take Action projects benefiting our camps. From pollinator gardens to clean-up days, we’re so grateful to the girls, troops, leaders, and service units who have dedicated their time to ensuring future Girl Scouts have an excellent camp experience.
Want to have an impact on one of our camps?
Our Give Back to Camp! events allow you to come to camp and complete pre-designated service projects. We’ll supply the equipment, instructions, and a snack. All you need to bring is clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, a pair of gardening/work gloves, and your go-getter spirit. Assigned duties vary by age, but may include: weeding, raking, cleaning, trail trimming, painting, exotic plant removal, and more. Adult supervision is required (we recommend a 1:1 ratio, though it’s not mandatory).
Updates from May 2021
It has been a busy year at our camp properties. Now that the Kilo Hoku (Camp Wai Lani) and Firefly (Camp Wildwood) units are available for reservations, we have completed some of our major goals that were established when we launched Her Vision of Tomorrow (our long-range program and property plan). We have made so many enhancements, both large and small, through our long-range program and property plan and while improving our maintenance and upkeep efforts—and this is only the beginning! We are excited to look to the future as we continue to focus on offering great programs and experiences at our Girl Scout Camps for the girls of today and tomorrow.
Recently, we secured an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) grant that provided a team of volunteers who visited three of our properties throughout April. The team assisted our rangers with much-needed repairs and maintenance that weren’t feasible for our rangers to complete on their own. The team replaced siding and painted the exterior of the lodge and demolished old screen enclosures so they could be replaced at Camp Wai Lani; painted and re-screened Ladybug at Camp Dorothy Thomas; and repaired more than two miles of fencing at Camp Wildwood. One of the team members created a mini-documentary of the team’s experience and impact here at GSWCF.
Here’s some updates on improvements at each of our properties.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
All buildings received a deep cleaning that included pressure washing; many of them also received new screens. Several buildings received fresh coats of paint, including the Archery Shed, Ranger Office, Day Pavilion, Holiday House, Ladybug, Merry Go Round, and the Sport Shed.
Throughout the camp, we’ve worked hard to clear overgrowth not only on trails, but around cabins and program areas, too. We’ve made the Daisy Bridge Trail accessible again and cleared a 20 foot radius around CIT, Holiday House, Chigger, Sleepy, Skunk, Oak, Pioneer, the Cook’s Cabin, Staff Cabin, and the Yurt. The barn has been deconstructed to salvage the building materials for use in future projects at all of our camps (a value of about $6,000 in materials). We’ve removed unused and deteriorating elements at the challenge course and are in the process of replacing the whale watch. Additionally, we cleared an area with a 20 foot radius to be used for team building activities.
Oh, and did we mention Ladybug got a new AC unit? Just in time for summertime troop camping!
Camp Indian Echo
At Camp Indian Echo we completed a boundary survey that examined the property lines and resolved encroachments. We cleared our electric lines to prevent damage and potential danger during storms. We purchased two new Teepees, which will be installed when we open for reservations in the fall.
Camp Wai Lani
Thanks to the generosity of the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas (JWB), we were able to make a number of improvements at Camp Wai Lani. We installed new energy efficient windows and (exterior) doors at the Lodge, Dining Hall, classrooms, office, trading post, sewing room, and cook’s quarters. Additionally, we installed new AC units in the cook’s quarters and classroom 2. We put up new fans in the dining hall, new exterior lights at the lodge, and interior lights in the dining hall in addition to security cameras throughout camp and a privacy fence around the AC units at the Lodge. You’ll also notice that AEDs (automated external defibrillators) have been placed throughout camp.
In addition to the improvements funded by the JWB and the work done by the NCCC volunteers, we’ve also accomplished a number of other projects including renovating the boat house, building shade structures at the archery range, refurbishing the craft building, painting all the cabin exteriors and replacing the screens underneath them as well.
At Camp Wildwood, we hosted a barn workday where we rebuilt the barn doors, cleaned and organized the tack rooms, and cleaned the pole barn. In Costello Lodge, we removed the carpet, sanded and polished the cement, and installed a new septic system. Horseshoe Meadows has a new fire alarm, fire suppression hood, and ice machine. (Friendship also has a new fire suppression hood).
The pool has seen some major renovations, too. We completed restorations to the pool deck and the pool itself. The pool bathhouse has a fresh coat a paint and a new roof. Also in the bathhouse, we restored the concrete flooring in the lifeguard room, replaced all the sinks, gave the interior a bright new coat of paint, and replaced the tarp on the covered area.
Updates from February 2021
The Property Team has been working side-by-side with our Outdoor Program Team to find suitable ways for our members to interact at camp in a way that will slow the spread of COVID-19.
In the fall, we opened up each camp to accommodate troop meetings. Our members have enjoyed having regular access to safe meeting spots.
At the start of the New Year, we introduced archery, challenge course and equestrian program oportunities with reduced capacity and protocols to keep girls safe. Additionally, day-use activities are also permitted at several locations on each property. Currently, we are working on expanding availability to include use of fire circles and watercraft equipment.
Another round of Troop Camping day-use reservations for April and May will open on February 16, so there'll be even more opportunites for girls to come to camp.
We hosted our first Family Spring Camp Out at Camp Dorothy Thomas in January. We look forward to our upcoming sessions at Wai Lani, Indian Echo and Wildwood.
We are also busy planning for Summer Camp!
Summer Camp Registration Opens on February 17 for sessions beginning June 13. Be sure to visit the Summer Camp page for all the details, but here are some highlights:
- Overnight and day camp sessions are available at Camp Wai Lani
- STEM Day Camp will be at Wai Lani
- Wildwood is excited to offer overnight Equestrian Camps
- Summer Camp In a Box is returning for a second season with new grade-specific activities and themes
- Family Camp will be offered at both Camp Wildwood and Camp Wai Lani
Updates from September 2020
Camp Wai Lani
We’re in the final stages of obtaining the certificate of occupancy for Kilo Hoku units. We expect to receive it any day and construction crews are no longer on property.
For the past several months, our rangers have been completing the 2019-2020 annual work plans for their camps.
Lately, they have been working on readying the camp properties for return of troops for troop meetings. After thoroughly researching sanitization standards in the wake of COVID-19, the rangers worked together to develop cleaning protocols that will keep our girls and volunteers safe when they visit camp for meetings. In preparation, the rangers have deep-cleaned meeting rooms, installed signage, and de-cluttered rooms making them easier to sanitize.
Over the summer and early fall, our rangers spend much of their time mowing grass and ensuring properties are ready should a hurricane arise. Hurricane prep at Girl Scout Camp is very similar to your at-home preparations. Rangers trim loose tree limbs, monitor leaning trees, ensure items stored outside are secured, and make sure all equipment is in working order and filled with gas so they’re ready to respond.
Our Rangers Have Gone Digital!
Possibly one of the most impressive things our Rangers have participated in over the past few months is virtual program opportunities like the Ranger Diaries, Virtual Girl Scout Destinations and Summer Camp In a Box. These program offerings and social media campaigns ensure that Girl Scouts throughout west central Florida and beyond can still feel connected to our camps and the Girl Scout mission, even if we need to be apart for now.
Through The Ranger Diaries, Ranger Courtney, Ranger Darryl, Ranger Deb, and Ranger Steve share the things you know and love about our camps: nature, adventure, and even some improvements for when we can finally return! Plus, some fun things you might not know. We share big updates (like this one) in our blog, and we’ll share even more on social media; so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Our Virtual Destinations Series allows girls to explore camp (and the world!) from the comfort of their homes. Each event in this monthly series has a different theme and is open to all Girl Scouts and their friends and families. In July and August, Rangers Courtney and Darryl led us around Camp Wildwood and Camp Wai Lani (respectively). Plus, there’s still time to register for the September 26 session at Camp Dorothy Thomas with Ranger Steve.
Throughout Summer Camp In a Box, our rangers ensured girls felt connected to camp through live-streamed flag ceremonies, campfires, and more.
Updates from August 2020
Camp Dorothy Thomas Rezoning Passed
We have an exciting Her Vision of Tomorrow update. Our request for a rezoning of roughly 30 acres of land at Camp Dorothy Thomas was recently approved by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners in a unanimous vote. This was a critical step for GSWCF to move forward with the plan that was set in motion two years ago to shore up this camp’s boundaries and provide much needed funds for the ongoing restoration of our camp properties and outdoor programming.
With the rezoning approved, we can proceed with the sale which allows the council to not only recoup the funds previously spent to purchase a strip of land that cut deep into our boundary, but also provides additional funds to help finance future program and property enhancements. This means projects like the revitalization of CDT’s pool and bathhouse area, restoring aging infrastructure and so many more critical needs can begin moving forward. “These funds will revitalize our camps and fulfill our commitment to offering outdoor programming opportunities to girls for decades to come,” said GSWCF CEO, Mary Pat King.
We are also excited to announce that Pulte Homes is the developer who will be purchasing this property. Pulte Homes is treating this as more than just a business transaction by positioning themselves as a true partner and supporter of our mission. They have displayed a commitment to working with Girl Scouts in the years to come by offering girl-engagement program opportunities and sponsorships.
During the rezoning process, GSWCF worked with Hillsborough County officials to identify 15 acres on our property that will be a designated conservation easement. This land, which will be under our supervision, provides opportunities for outdoor education and aligns with the environmental Girl Scout mission to be good stewards of the land.
Updates from June 2020
HVOT Phase II Nearing Completion
The Hilo Konu unit at Camp Wai Lani is nearing completion. Constructions teams are working on the interiors adding bathroom fixtures, hooking up utilities, and painting trim. Our final steps will be grading the site (leveling the dirt), and getting our certificate of occupancy from the county.
We were able to accomplish some side-projects thanks to the building of Hilo Konu. We were able to reconstruct the archery range: regrading the ground, adding a French drain, using leftover pilings to create a retention wall, and adding a new waterline! This will help ensure that our archery range is usable during high tide or after a summer storm, and that we can easily fill water bottles and coolers. We fine tuned the challenge course, removing roots and leveling the ground so girls using the zip line have a softer landing. Plus, we were able to install an ADA bathroom at the lodge.
We’re excited to begin the next phase of Her Vision of Tomorrow in the coming months.
Camp Wai Lani
In addition to the (almost) completion of the new unit at Camp Wai Lani there’s been progress on several other big projects. We’ve installed a new electronic security gate at the entrance to the camp road (just after the parking lot) as well as a vinyl fence that blocks off access to camp. On its first day after being installed, the gate and fence stopped twelve vehicles from driving further into camp than the parking lot! This isn’t a normal occurrence. They were all quarantine-fatigued people who were driving around just to have something safe to do, but our new fence has proved its value!
Ranger D is still working on the JWB funded kitchen renovation. We received 21 new lunchroom-style tables for the dining hall recently. By the end of the month, we’ll have the brand-new dishwasher installed. We’ll also finish the kitchen’s upgraded electrical infrastructure this month.
We’ve completed a major upgrade to the Fire Alarm in Horseshoe Meadows. We’ve also added hood suppression systems to the stoves in the Horseshoe Meadows and Friendship kitchens.
At all of our properties, our Rangers are using this time to accomplish things that while not urgent or visually dramatic, will make a big difference in the camp experience. They’re finishing their annual property work plans, and they’re completing two major initiatives: a property-wide inventory, and building assessments. These projects will help us be better informed of the funding needs and priorities for each of our properties.
Rangers are spending rainy days investing in professional development through zoom meetings, updating their certifications, and using online research tools to refresh their knowledge of risk management and safety at camp.
Our rangers continue to deep clean, clear, mow, and remove trees at all camp properties. They’re accomplishing so much, we’re sure everything will feel like new when you return to camp! We can’t wait to see our rangers’ smiling faces again!
Updates from April 2020
At all of our camps the rangers are hard at work deep cleaning our properties. The upside of not being able to have visitors at camp is that the rangers are able to dedicate all their time and energy to completing dozens of improvement projects. We can’t wait for our members to see them all as soon as we can reopen.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
The Lodge at Camp Dorothy Thomas has received a deep cleaning. We removed all items from the kitchen, cleaned them, and took an inventory of what was available. While everything was out of the kitchen, it was cleaned and received a fresh coat of paint. We’ve begun washing all of the lodge windows. We’ve also cleared out the overgrowth near the lodge.
Updates from March 2020
Work on the pool at Camp Wildwood was completed the first week of March and the pool is ready for use!
As we are readying for the next controlled burn, we’re hoping the recent cold snap left a frost on the pastures so that they can be part of the burn. If it has not, the area of our burn will be much smaller.
Camp Indian Echo
We are replacing two teepees that were nearing the end of their lifespan after they were damaged beyond repair by the winter winds.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
We have finished the installation of internet services at Lady Bug and the Lodge. In an effort to use our resources wisely, this service will only be available seasonally. Our initial plan is to have it available only during STEM Day Camp, and to reevaluate later to see if making it available more often is responsible.
We completed a renovation of the porch at Holiday House. We’re removed and replaced the rotting battens (the frames holding the screens) and installed new screens.
Camp Wai Lani
Thanks to a generous grant from the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, we are beginning preparations for our Camp Wai Lani Kitchen renovation! We have a ranger work day scheduled to begin Phase 1 of this process: deep cleaning and rearranging and installing new equipment.
We continue construction on the Kilo Hoku Unit cabins. We estimate construction to be complete in time for summer camp. The sleeping units at Camp Wai Lani are receiving a facelift, with a fresh coat of paint! We will add touches of tropical color to the entry doors in line with Camp Wai Lani branding. We expect units at He’e Nalu, Lani Kai and Kai Lua will be complete in about 3 weeks!
Updates from February 2020
We’re nearing completion on the Camp Wildwood pool, but it’s taking longer to fill as the water table is low. Once the pool is filled, we’ll be able to put on the finishing details (like the remaining pavers and the new fence). With the water table low, the lake levels are receding which means that our partner, Black Kow, can ramp up their peat mining process. We continue to wait for conditions to be right to commence this year’s controlled burn.
Camp Indian Echo
Our first controlled burn at Camp Indian Echo was successful. This initial burn sets the baseline for future forestry management. Now that we’ve gotten much of the overgrowth out of the way, future burns will be less intensive and easier to manage.
Camp Wai Lani
We’ve been able to resume construction on the new cabins at Camp Wai Lani as we await permitting approvals from Pinellas County for our new fire alarm system.
The Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) of Pinellas County has given us a grant to upgrade the kitchen and dining facilities at Camp Wai Lani.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
Rangers Steve and Eric have resumed cleaning responsibilities for all Camp Dorothy Thomas. Their continued work to clear the trails, and cut back on years of overgrowth is having an astounding visual impact on our camp. Campers (girls and volunteers alike) have commented on the bright, clean, and open feel of camp.
At all of our camp properties, we are finalizing our 2020 tree removal plan, which will remove those trees which pose a risk to the safety of girls and volunteers, buildings, and infrastructure. The tree removal process will be completed before the 2020 hurricane season.
Updates from January 2020
Our Rangers are refreshed after the holiday break, and are ready to jump back into maintaining and improving all of our camps.
Camp Indian Echo
The Forestry Department will be conducting a prescribed burn at along Peachtree and Hudson the second week of January. We’ve notified our neighbors, and the winds are from the shore, so visibility on Hudson will not be impacted.
Additional information on prescribed burns: Camp Dorothy Thomas and Camp Wildwood are also on the Forestry department’s schedule for prescribed burns. We are unsure of the precise timing and locations of the burns as so much depends on the weather.
Work on the pool is almost complete. The deck has been replaced with pavers to provide a cooler and more level surface for campers’ feet, the bathhouse roof has been replaced, and Ranger Courtney will be working on painting the bathhouse over the next few months. Keep an eye out for completion photos in our next update.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
Ranger Steve continues the process of reclaiming CDT from the forest, removing snags (dead trees with no limbs or branches but are still upright) from the trails and camp road. We’re pushing back plant growth from the units, fields, and program areas for a cleaner and brighter camp experience.
Camp Wai Lani
We continue to work through the permitting issues with Pinellas County that slowed construction last month. We are installing new water lines and have begun construction of a fire hydrant system.
Updates from December 2019
On the weekend of 11/8, the first troop camped in our brand new Firefly unit! The girls loved waking up to the view of Lake Lenore.
We’ve drained the pool and begun work on its restoration! After draining the pool, we discovered that the belly band (the part of the pool that slopes from the shallow end to the deep end) was damaged. This is something we expected, however, repairing it will add a week or two onto our timeline.
Camp Dorothy Thomas:
Ranger Steve continues to make daily improvements at camp. Most are little things that don’t sound important or exciting when written down, but greatly contribute to the overall camp experience.
Camp Wai Lani:
We’ve experienced some challenges in our construction of the Kilo Hoku unit at Camp Wai Lani that have slowed down the unit’s construction. We plan to remedy these and get back to work within the next two weeks.
Holiday Closing Schedule:
All of our camp properties will be closed for the winter holidays from Dec. 21 – Jan. 1. Our rangers are looking forward to this well-deserved break, and are excited to jump into more improvements in the new year.
In January, we’ll begin our prescribed burns at Camp Dorothy Thomas, Camp Indian Echo, and Camp Wildwood as described in previous updates.
Updates from November 2019
Camp Wai Lani
The cabins at the new Kilo Hoku Unit are progressing quickly! Trades are in, and the cabins are framed and dried in (they have rooves and the Tyvek siding is up, protecting everything inside from weather). We’ve started the process of picking the paint colors for the cabins. We’re in the exciting stage where little things are happening every day, but they’re not one’s you’d see when visiting camp.
Below is a bonus picture of the renovated, ADA compliant bathroom at the Lodge that was detailed in our last update.
On October 26 we held our ribbon cutting ceremony on the new Firefly unit. It was incredibly special to have Gundy present to celebrate with us. She even climbed the stairs to get a picturesque view of the lake from the balcony of one of the cabins. We’re going through our final checks this week, and the Firefly Unit will officially open for reservations this weekend!
The pool renovation has officially begun, meaning the pool will be closed for the next 8-12 weeks. During this time the pool will be completely refinished including resurfacing inside the pool, fixing leaks, putting in new tile, a new coping (the bit in commercial pools above the gutter). But it’s not just the pool itself that will be getting a facelift. We’re installing a paver deck which will make the deck perfectly level (eliminating water puddles after rainfall) and will be much cooler on campers’ feet.
The pool bathrooms are getting a refresh, with a new application of cool deck, a textured, non-slip paint that will be applied to the bathroom floor and a fresh coat of paint for the walls. We’re installing a new roof on the bath house and painting its walls and garage door.
We’ll be fencing off the pump house with a durable, vinyl fence that preserves the aesthetic of the pool and keeps girls safely out of the pump house.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
We’re excited to say that Ranger Steve has been living on site for several weeks now, and is the primary contact for campers staying at CDT. Having a Ranger living on site with increased hours has already had a large impact on the amount of work that is able to be done at camp. New improvements are continuing to be made every day, but we’re particularly proud of the fresh coat of paint at the camp office, and the miles and miles of mowing we’ve been able to accomplish.
With the CDT Visioning sessions complete, we’re summarizing participant feedback from the meetings. We will use this information to formalize an action plan to make bigger improvements to Camp Dorothy Thomas.
Camp Indian Echo
We’ve partnered with the Withlacoochee District of the Florida Forestry Service to implement a prescribed burn plan for the entire camp. The Forestry Service performed several test burns around camp that allowed us to understand the conditions at camp and move forward with more burns around the property.
We also received a donation that funded the purchase of a cargo container that will be placed in the woods near Daisy Lake. The container will provide convenient and secure on-site storage for our watercraft, particularly our stand up paddleboards.
Updates from October 2019
We’re continuing our restoration of Lake Lenore. As expected, the summer rains have swelled the lake, delaying work. The Properties Committee has started evaluating the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) permit for the shoreline restoration and will be working with the DEP and Black Kow to address the final mitigation requirements. The photo below is courtesy of our friends at InVision Advisors and their super-cool drone. It shows a postcard view of the ongoing restoration of Lake Lenore and the nearly-complete Firefly Unit (lower right).
Speaking of Firefly Unit, the cabins are near completion. Their exteriors and roofs are complete and the plumbing and electricity are working. We have a workday scheduled for all our Camp Rangers to come together to build the bunk beds. Next, the exteriors will be painted and we’ll begin work on the final site grading and preparation, including creation of a new fire circle.
We’ve expanded the well system that serves the front of camp. The new system is a secondary system that serves as a backup, helping us “Be Prepared” in case the primary system needs to be taken off line for any reason. Parts of this system are currently visible at the pool, but we will be putting in fencing and landscaping so that the tank is hidden from view, preserving the rural atmosphere of camp.
Our Outdoor Program team has been excitedly working with our AmeriCorps intern placed at GSWCF through the Student Conservation Association. We look forward to a jam-packed fall with lots of hands-on events for our members to learn about conservation, sustainable farming practices, and more. These events are designed to engage troops through camping, be hands on (learning by doing), and get members involved in the removal of invasive species, planting, and ongoing care of the land. Projects at Camp Wildwood include revitalization of the homestead garden and the butterfly garden. The butterfly garden renovation will include redesigning the space to educate campers about native species, pollinators, and more.
Camp Wai Lani
Camp Wai Lani’s Kilo Hoku Unit has gone vertical on all three cabins! The concrete and steel has been laid, and we’ve begun framing the cabins. Because the same team that built the Firefly Unit at Camp Wildwood is building Kilo Hoku, the framing process is going faster thanks to their experience.
Updates from June 2019
Building of the Firefly Units at Camp Wildwood is well underway. We are still on track to complete construction before troop camping begins in the fall.
Camp just got cooler! We have air conditioning installed at Horseshoe Meadows and Costello Lodge and kitchen. Our summer resident campers are enjoying this cool break from the heat.
Peet mining at Lake Lenore is still on track and we continue to be astounded by the lake size and water flow that is being recovered through this process. We expect the process to be complete by the end of 2020. Our property committee will be working on shoreline restoration plans.
Camp Wai Lani
Ranger Daryl rebuilt the dock at Camp Wai Lani and it includes an extension to allow more girls to be on the dock at the same time.
We have received site and foundation permits from Pinellas County to begin work clearing the site for our new Kilo Hoku cabin unit. We are still pending the final building permit from the county. We will also be renovating the lodge to provide additional ADA accommodations.
Camp Indian Echo
A new drain field has been installed at Camp Indian Echo to help repair the problems at the water front bathhouse.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
The Ranger House at CDT is in the final stages of completion. Crews will be doing some site work outside of the house to make it look more welcoming for campers when they come to the property.
We’re working on a new reservations system and developing new true to scale camp property maps to be available in time for troop camping this fall.
Work is being done around the properties to remove dangerous dead trees that hang over trails and buildings to ensure safety.
Updates from April 2019
Help Choose the New Cabin Unit Names
Thank you to everyone who suggested names for the new cabin units and Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood. We had nearly a hundred submissions at each camp and they were truly fantastic and creative options. We even had number of duplicate suggestions from different people (a case of great minds thinking alike.) After a very tough process of narrowing it down to a manageable number for a final vote, we present 5 options for each camp.
Camp Wildwood Choices
Camp Wai Lani Choices
Kilo Hoku (“Star Gazer”)
Kona Kai (“Lady of the Sea”)
Noelani (“Heavenly mist”)
Ohana Kai (“Family Sea”)
Puanani (“Beautiful flower”)
Now we need your help once again. Please cast your vote for the above choices (you can vote once for each camp.) Voting will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
Updates from February 2019
On Saturday, Feb. 9, we held simultaneous ceremonies at Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood to celebrate the groundbreaking of new cabin units at both camps. In attendance were Girl Scouts of ages, volunteers, parents and some special guests like Sumter County Commissioner Doug Gilpin, Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers and Brian Jaruszewski of the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County. The ceremonies were led by GSWCF Board President Denise Samson and GSWCF CEO Jessica Muroff and included speeches by our project partners from InVision Advisors (Jonathan Moore and Chris Dinklage) and LLW Construction, Inc. (Mike Winiarek and Mike White).
This is our most exciting development to date in bringing Her Vision of Tomorrow to life. In 2015, we began to create a property vision for our future and to see how far we’ve come in the past four years, with improvements both big and small, has been amazing. The revitalization of our camp properties is a top priority and one of our main goals has always been to increase the capacity at our camps. These new units, which will contain three cabins and 48 additional bunks, will allow even more girls the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor programming and experiences that will always be a critical component of the Girl Scout experience.
This is truly a project that requires a strong foundation of support to bring to life and we are so thankful for the efforts of everyone who brought us to this point. The members who offer valuable feedback, volunteers and staff who devoted so much of their time in developing the plan for Her Vison of Tomorrow, funders who have provided critical financial support, our friends in local government that have provided guidance, and our project partners for industry expertise and insight. The contributions of everyone is essential to our continued success in reaching our goals.
Above: Cabin Rendering of new cabins at both Wildwood and Wai Lani
Below: Cabin Schematic of new cabins at both Wildwood and Wai Lani
Camp Wai Lani – southwest of Lanu Kai near the archery range; Camp Wildwood – west side of Lake Lenore south of Cricket
Help us name our new cabins at Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood.
We have begun construction of new units at both Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood. These brand new units will each have 3 cabins that sleep up to 16 campers. That’s 48 more beds at both locations! And they have been designed to incorporate the feedback we received from girls during the early planning stages. The elevated cabins have screened in activity space below with covered staircases on either side to access the cabin. The interior will have 8 bunk beds with space for gathering in the middle, sliding barn doors to access the bathroom and private changing areas in the showers.
Now for the fun part! We’re looking for our girls and volunteers to help us name the new units. We do have some general naming guidelines noted below so the new names sound right at home with the current units and the overall personality of each camp.
You can submit as many names as you’d like before the March 24 deadline. We will take all submissions and narrow it down to the top picks for the members to vote on.
We look forward to your ideas and can’t wait to see you in our new cabins!
Camp Wai Lani submission guidelines
In keeping with the camp tradition, the units will have Polynesian names. Wai Lani roughly translates to “Water Paradise” and there is a strong nautical theme running through all of the names. You can either submit names in English for us to translate, or can submit them already translated. To get an idea of what we already have at camp, here are our current units and their roughly translated meanings:
- He’e Nalu “Surf Rider”
- Kai Lua “Salt Water Sea”
- Lani Kai “Heavenly Sea”
Camp Wildwood submission guidelines
Known as our premier equestrian camp, Wildwood is our largest property and also home to our world class Griffin Nature Center. The current nature-themed cabin names reflect this old Florida wilderness vibe and the new units will offer a beautiful view of Lake Lenore. Here are our current units:
- Horseshoe Meadows
- Oak Hammock
Updates from September 2018
Her Vision of Tomorrow is currently in the final phase of design and cost estimates for the new sleeping unit structures. We are process of working with Pinellas and Sumter counties on zoning and permits for these projects. More information coming soon!
Our camp rangers came together for to celebrate Ranger Elton Lackey’s retirement by hosting a work day at Camp Wildwood. Together they built 12 replacement picnic tables that are now located at CDT, Wai Lani and Wildwood.
Camp Wai Lani
The Camp Wai Lani pool area has recently gotten an update made possible by a funding grant from the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County. The updates include a new roof, fascia and soffit for the bathhouse plus an interior renovation with new sinks, toilets, doors and lighting. Both the interior and exterior of the bath house was painted blue. In addition, a sun shade and new Adirondack chairs have been added to the deck.
The floors in the lodge were resurfaced and sealed and we have replaced the flooring in the sewing room and trading post.
A prescribed burned was scheduled for Camp Wai Lani last month but was cancelled due to rain. These burns are always based on current conditions with many factors going into account such as temperature, humidity, and wind. We are waiting on a controlled burn authorization for this fall.
Camp Indian Echo
The Camp Indian Echo treehouse was repaired after a strong summer storm knocked down a nearby tree and damaged the roof. This structure is once available again for reservations.
Florida Forest Service recently cut and disked the CIE property fire lines. This process helps protect the property to prevent and contain brush fire risks.
Camp Dorothy Thomas
Construction of the new ranger house is underway and still on schedule. Demolition crews were onsite last month to remove the old ranger house.
New septic drain fields were installed at the CDT lodge. The lodge bathrooms are now reopened for use.
The CDT Trading Post has been revamped including a newly painted interior and shelving.
The tractor is back in service. The tractor was out of commission for several months while waiting on parts for repairs. GSWCF staff is back to trimming and cutting to make up for the summer months.
Updates from July 2018
CDT Ranger House
We have officially broken ground for the new ranger house at Camp Dorothy Thomas. As previously shared, the new ranger house was made possible due to the generosity of Cardel Homes.
“It is incredibly exciting and important for us to be investing in the future enhancements and upkeep of our camps so that Girl Scouts for years to come can continue to enjoy Camp Dorothy Thomas.” Jessica Muroff, CEO of GSWCF
Located at the camp entrance, the ranger house will be a point of safety and security for this property. Earlier this summer, the existing ranger house was demolished and site cleared to make room for the new construction.
On Tuesday, July 10, we hosted a small groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate this milestone with representatives from Cardel Homes and InVision Advisors along with Girl Scout members and GSWCF staff.
“We’re very humbled for the opportunity to provide this house for the Girl Scouts. This brings great gratitude and satisfaction to us as a local builder,” shared Brian Phillips, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “Cardel Homes is always about, not only building quality homes to our customers, but giving back to the community and we feel that’s one of the most important things we can do.”
We would like to thank our volunteers and girls for sharing their input to make the ranger house a high priority during our Long Range Program and Property Initiative. We are also grateful to have the support and expertise from Cardel Homes, InVision Advisor and Carlton Fields to make this vision a reality.
We have recently install new signage at Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood. These colorful directional signs each match the character and themes of the camp properties.
Supplies needed to turn Her Vision of Tomorrow into a reality!
The plans for Phase II of our Long Range Program and Property Initiative (LRPP) are well underway. We will be increasing sleeping capacity at Camp Indian Echo, Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood in the near future. Before we can break ground for the new sleeping units, there’s a lot of planning work that still needs to be done.
In true Girl Scout fashion, we are using our resources wisely and turning to our network of members for help. To be good stewards of our funds and to maximize what can deliver for these building projects, we’re seeking donations of building supplies and construction materials (see list below). The more items we are able to have donated, more funds will be available to enhance these projects for our girls.
Materials and supplies needed:
- Air Conditioning
- Concrete and reinforcing bars for floor slabs
- Concrete block for bathroom walls
- Drywall and Paint
- Electrical Equipment
- Fill Dirt
- Hurricane Straps, Nails and Screws
- Hardie Board Siding
- Lights and Ceiling Fans
- Roof and floor trusses
- Toilets and Sinks
- Toilet Partition and Bathroom Accessories
- Waterproofing Materials
- Water Heaters
- Windows and Doors
- Wood studs for walls
- Wood columns and posts
- Wood beams for floors and roofs
- Wood railings
If you, or someone you know of, has access to any of the items listed above and would like to make a contribution to help build our new sleeping units, or if you have any questions, please Lina Castro at 813-569-9811.
Updates from May 2018
Challenge Course Updates
Calling all risk-takers! The brand new challenge course at Camp Wai Lani and the extended zip line at Camp Dorothy Thomas are both now open. We debuted the challenge course at Camp Wai Lani during a live interview on WEDU on Give Day Tampa Bay. A group of Girl Scouts used the climbing wall and cargo net to make their way to the top of the 35 foot tower and down the zip line. The tower offers incredible views overlooking the tree tops of camp and the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, the newly extended 800 foot zip line at Camp Dorothy Thomas was debuted during the GSWCF Annual Meeting. Three dozen girls and adult members used this opportunity to launch themselves off the tower, through a tunnel of trees and over the lake for a thrilling good time!
Both challenge courses will be available for reservations when troop camping and encampments reservations open later this summer.
Camp Wai Lani Updates
The roof on the pool house at Camp Wai Lani was recently replaced. This update was made possible by funding provided the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.
Some of the mangroves along the waterfront of Camp Wai Lani have been trimmed. This project was approved and permitted by Pinellas County to trim back overgrowth which was blocking access to the dock as well as help increase air flow into camp.
Updates from March 2018
Phase II of Her Vision of Tomorrow
We’re laying the ground work for Phase II of Her Vision of Tomorrow! Before we can start building there is a lot of planning work that needs to be accomplishment. Our Outdoor Program and Properties staff have been on site visits at Camp Wildwood, Camp Wai Lani and Camp Indian Echo to find the perfect spots to build the new sleeping units. In addition, we’re surveying the area to prepare the land for infrastructure needs such as electric, sewer, water and septic. The architectural designs of the new sleep units are in development. We are making sure the designs incorporate feedback from our girl visioning sessions, meet ADA requirements and above all else work within our budget.
Challenge Course Updates
The new challenge course at Camp Wai Lani is in the final stages before we open up registration for members. Construction is complete, permits are approved. We are finalizing facilitator trainings to ensure everyone has a safe and fun time on the course.
The challenge course at Camp Dorothy Thomas has been going under a little refresher renovation. This update has extended the zip line to be nearly 800 ft. That means CDT will be home to one of the longest zip lines in Hillsborough County. Where are all our risk-takers? Who’s ready to try this?
CDT Ranger House
Over the next couple of months, Cardel Homes will begin preparing the site for our new ranger house at Camp Dorothy Thomas which will include clearing the site and demolishing the existing house.
Updates from January 2018
Embarking on Phase II of Her Vision of Tomorrow
Her Vision of Tomorrow is becoming a reality! Over the past year, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida has made significant enhancements to our four camp properties, but that was only the beginning. We’re thrilled to share we are about to embark on Phase II of the Long Range Program and Properties plan where we will begin implementing major enhancements. These projects will expand the capacity for our properties, allowing more girls and troops access to Girl Scout outdoor experiences throughout the year. Whether she is looking to face her fears on a ropes course or explore marine life on the Gulf Coast, our camps allow girls to experience the great outdoors on their own terms.
After being on the market since May of 2017, our board of directors unanimously accepted an offer for the sale of the Camp Scoutcrest property from a private buyer. The closing of the property was finalized on January 8, 2018 at a purchase price which was above the most recent appraisal price. The net proceeds from closing received by Girl Scouts of West Central Florida will be used to enact Phase II of our Long Range Program and Properties (LRPP), a key part of which involves efforts to replace the camping capacity of Camp Scoutcrest by adding sleeping units to our other properties.
During Phase II, Camp Indian Echo, Camp Wai Lani and Camp Wildwood will be equipped with new sleeping units each distinctively designed to match the unique personalities and themes of the three camp properties. While we work to design these units, we will once again turn to our members, especially girls, to have a voice in the visioning process. Girl Scout Daisies through Ambassadors are invited to share their ideas at one of the upcoming visioning sessions. If you would like to attend a session, please contact Evan Krueger to reserve your spot.
- Jan 13, 1 p.m. at Camp Wai Lani in Palm Harbor
- Jan 27, 3:30 p.m. at Camp Wildwood in Wildwood
We hope you will join us and echo our excitement as we embark on Phase II to bring Her Vision of Tomorrow to life!
Camp Wai Lani
- We are in the middle of renovating the pool by resurfacing, adding new cobalt blue tile and reconnecting the light system
- The new Challenge Course is moving forward with site clearing and preparation beginning in November and permitting with Pinellas county for a January installation
- Four new see-through canoes were acquired thanks to Elisa’s Great Wishes Foundation
- A/C was added to our cabins
- The boat house is rededicated in remembrance of Gobby Kuhn
- Evaluating repair costs and project plan for unit houses bathhouse repairs
- Applied for grant for pool house bath roof replacement
- The recent heavy rains have had a great effect on Gator Lake as the restoration through peat mining continues
- New furniture was added to added to Horseshoe Meadows and Friendship units including couches and chairs with washable coverings and tables for meeting space
- Baby donkeys! We welcomed two new healthy additions to the herd with baby Shrek and Fiona