Celebration marks end of decades of Girl Scouting at local camp
by Carla Noah Stutsman
Generations of Girl Scouts from all over Texas have come to Camp Timberlake on the shores of Eagle Mountain Lake to camp since the 1960s.
But a special event slated for Saturday, April 20 will mark the end of the dec
ades-long era of Girl Scout camping in Azle.
According to a press release from Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains (GS-TOP), “Camp Timberlake has been a beloved place for generations and although the camp will no longer be used for Girl Scout activities, GS-TOP invites all Girl Scouts and Girl Scout alumnae to honor the traditions and memories of Camp Timberlake at this special event, Treasuring Timberlake.”
“While this decision brings heavy hearts, it is with a spirit of celebrating years of great memories that Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains will say farewell to Camp Timberlake,” the press release states.
The event will include activities for both girls and adults including a history exhibit, live auction, and closing campfire ceremonies. For a more detailed event schedule and to register online, visit www.gs-top.org/camp/camp-timberlake.
Registration costs $5 per girl and $15 per adult. Although the web site sa
ys registration closed April 13, Girl Scout officials have decided to keep it open until 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 17.
Last fall, the GS-TOP board of directors, after much study and analysis, voted to immediately cease overnight activity at Camp Timberlake, including troop/group camping and resident camp.
The GS-TOP board of directors also approved a change in strategic direction for outdoor properties by focusing resources to develop two premier properties: Stevens Ranch, located on the Brazos River near Glen Rose and Camp Rio Blanco, located east of Crosbyton.
Both camps were determined to have the best mix of infrastructure, capacity, resources, location, and potential for future improvements to best meet the needs of girls across the Council.
“At the conclusion of an extensive review process, which included proper
ty studies as well as feedback from girls and parents, the property committee recommended and the GS-TOP board of directors determined that focusing our resources on the creation of two premier camps would be the best way to provide services for girls today and into the future,” said Libby Watson, GS-TOP board member and lifetime Girl Scout member. “These are bold decisions for girls. We are striving to ensure that every girl in our council has access and opportunity to build friendships and learn leadership skills in the great outdoors.”
“At the heart of these decisions is the desire to do what’s best for meeting the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s girls,” said Becky Burton, GS-TOP CEO. “These decisions are not made lightly, and are made with vast input.
“Girl Scouting has historically provided unmatched camping experiences and the decisions our board has made ensure we will continue to be able to do so.”
LaVerne Caradine is a former leader for local Girl Scout Troop 540, active during the 1960s and 1970s.
Caradine has fond memories of camping with her daughters, Susan,
who died in 1993 after a tragic accident, Sherri and Sandy along with the rest of the girls in Troop 540.
She recalled several incidents from the troop’s camping excursions at Timberlake.
“Once we all went canoeing, but when it was time to get back to shore, there were two copperhead snakes swimming around us,” Caradine recalled. “We liked to have never got back in – those snakes had us all scared.”
One evening, just as everyone was settling down at bedtime, girls and leaders alike heard rustling in the woods surrounding their campsite accompanied by some howling, Caradine said.
She and her co-leader and close friend, Laverne Noah, shushed the adolesce
nt girls, assuring them it was just the wind and nothing to be afraid of.
“We finally got them all settled in again,” Caradine laughed. “Then Laverne and I looked at each other – like ‘what in the world is out there?’ She and I didn’t sleep much that night!”
The girls learned archery, canoeing, crafts, swimming and even acting during their annual stays at Camp Timberlake, Caradine said.
At 74, Caradine still occasionally runs into some of her former scouts and said she also cherishes the friendships she made with other leaders in the area.
Caradine provided the photos and postcard used for this story