We are Troop 15, a Cadette troop from Towson MD. There are 7 of us in our Cadette troop. We are currently in 8th grade and have been together as a troop since kindergarten. We plan to continue with Girl Scouts through high school. For our silver award project, we wanted to make a difference at Camp Conowingo because it has given us so much and we wanted to give back. We love our Camp Conowingo where we do encampments and go to summer camp. Based on our first-hand experience, we noticed that some of the fire circles at camp were in poor condition. So for our Silver award project, we chose to fix up fire circles at Conowingo by digging out years of ash buildup in the fire pits and to raise awareness of fire circle safety. We saw that if left as is, they might be a potential danger to campers and the environment. We also thought about how no information is posted at the fire circles about how you should act around fire circles. We believe that this is unsafe and an accident waiting to happen. Therefore, we wanted to add signs to all the camp fire circles that include rules about being near the fire circle and also tips that will keep you safe as you start and put out your campfire. We designed fire safety signs to install at each of the fire circles at camp.
On February 8-9, we headed up to Camp Conowingo to see what we were dealing with and to decide exactly how we wanted to help. We walked around camp and noticed that the ash built up at some of the fire pits went way above the rocks. Although the recommended level is 6 inches below the rocks, many circles had ash over 6 inches above the rocks. We concluded that the fire circles were a bit run down and needed fixing. Back at our campsite, we met with the ranger at Camp Conowingo, Gary McElroy. He agreed that the fire circles needed work and supported our plan to raise awareness. We brainstormed a list of fire safety rules that we would be putting on our sign later.
We wrote a letter to the Build-a-sign company about our project and received a 30% discount on our signs. The signs are made of aluminum so that they will last a long time outdoors.
On May 21-22, 2016, our troop headed up to camp to install our signs. We wanted to have the signs installed before summer camp starts in June. We cleaned out the ash from the fire circles at Whispering Glen, Paxtu, and Trailing Pines, the last two of which had very high ash build up. Buckets and buckets of ash were shoveled out of the fire circles. Then we installed our signs at 16 wood boxes, including the new wood boxes that 2 of us volunteered to help make at the Jamboree at the end of April. The wood boxes help keep the wood dry. We put the signs on the wood boxes at each fire circle where the firewood is stored, so people will see and read them before they start their camp fires. We also ran into our neighboring Junior Troop 10042, who were doing outdoor cooking at the Staff House fire circle and taught them about fire safety rules so they can be safe in the future.
The fire circles are used a lot at camp by girls of all ages to have cookouts, roast marshmallows, and gather to sing campfire songs. They are an important element of camp, and we want to help girls safely experience the scout tradition of camp fires. We want our safety signs to be a long lasting teaching tool. We believe that having signs will encourage people to follow fire safety rules, keep people safe, keep the camp clean, and help prevent wildfires.
Overall, this project has made us realize that anyone can make a difference. We can’t wait to show off our signs and the improved fire circles when we go to camp this summer.
Abby Letocha, Avery Dawson, Madeline Menkes, Maggie Ryan, Marlena Roberts, Neeley Dayan, Sophie Harrell, and troop leader Phoebe Evans Letocha