By: Jen Russon
More than cookie sales are keeping the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida busy right now. This month also marks the reopening of their beloved Camp Telogia, located on Holmberg Road in Parkland.
Camp Telogia, the only Girl Scouts campsite in Broward, closed in the summer of 2017. At just over 13 acres, it had nine platform tents that slept four girls each. The full cooking facilities, wide open fields and sweet-smelling pines were a bounty that thousands of Girl Scouts, past and present, were crestfallen to lose.
But lose it they did when the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida cited high costs and underuse of the 9.5 acres given the Girl Scouts by Broward County in 1961. Even the three acres brought by the organization afterwards, were being sold to a private buyer who planned to build a home there.
Thanks to a restriction written into the 56-year-old deed, it wasn’t sold, and because the property had been unused for two years, its ownership reverted back to Broward County.
On the first Saturday of the year, the secluded site of Camp Telogia, a word which means wandering and meandering, returned to the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. With an event that included crafts, cookouts and s’mores, it was the first since the site closed in June 2017.
Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine and Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky were happy about the news.
“It’s good for the area. It’s good for the Girl Scouts, said Udine. “Plus, it will stay green and open. Let them keep operating the property for future generations of Girl Scouts.”
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky had nothing but good things to say about the camp.
“Telogia has been such an important part of Parkland’s history. I’m happy they made the decision to continue,” she said of the Southeast Council’s decision to use the campground for day programs.
Lisa Y. Johnson, chief executive of the council said the campsite will not be used for overnight activities. There are long-term plans to build new pavilions and bathrooms at Camp Telogia, with short-term goals like improving parking, landscaping and renovating the uni-house happening now. Three new fire pits are also in the works.
Johnson said improvements to Camp Telogia will transform the site into a fully functioning day program. She anticipates this will take three to five years. Because the improvements could top $1 million, the Girl Scouts will be, according to Johnson, “working at the speed that the funds allow.”
Johnson credited the desire from Girl Scout members as the driving force behind getting Telogia back. In the past couple of years, she said the organization has added more outdoor programming.
Membership in the six counties she oversees is up around 10,000 girls – from “Daisy” kindergartners to 12th grade “ambassadors.”
Johnson said she noticed a renewed spark in girls participating in outdoor activities, and that it drove she and her fellow board of directors to take Camp Telogia back.
“We believe usage in the future will support the decision made,” Johnson said.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.