By Meridith Orr, Program Executive
The last time you visited one of our Council camps you may have hiked the trails, learned to identify animal tracks, shot a bow and arrow, or cooked dinner over a fire ring. You may not realize it, but there is someone who makes all those adventures possible for Girl Scouts, someone who works behind the scenes to ensure our campers have everything they need.
At Camp Mu-Sha-Ni, that person is David Auman. People know Ranger David for his nature hikes and comprehensive lessons in identifying all the flora and fauna on the 850-acre property. He is also a proud Girl Scout Dad whose two daughters not only grew up in the program but got married at camp! Recently, Ranger David took a break from his winter activities to talk to us about his job.
Q: How did you get started being a camp ranger?
A: I did some part-time work for Girl Scouts before starting full-time. I was a farmer before I became a ranger, and I let rangers use my equipment, so I got to know them. When I heard one of them was going to retire, I applied for the position.
Q: How long have you worked with Girl Scouts/and our council?
A: I started 27 years ago. The first summer I was here part-time. I built the stage before the one we have now, the fire ring at Chalfant before the current fire ring (same footprint), and the bridge close to Chalfant. They’ve lasted quite a while, but there have been a lot of changes.
Q: What’s a fun fact about the camp you manage?
A: Camp Mu-Sha-Ni has the most acreage of any Girl Scout camp in North Carolina with 850. You could put all of our other camps on top of this one and still not cover it all.
Q: What do you love best about being a camp ranger?
A: Too many things to mention! I like seeing the girls have fun, seeing them worn out at the end of the day and not mind being dirty! I like the outdoor work.
Q: What’s the ONE thing you do around camp that no one would expect that you do?
A: This makes me grin. I was actually cleaning the toilets one day at camp and got a call that a foundation was coming to visit – so I had to stop cleaning the toilets, get changed and be ready to meet the foundation all in the same day! We got the funding, too!
Q: If you could teach someone something about your job, what would it be?
A: To be a good steward of the land. Hopefully the people skills would come naturally, but the stewardship piece might take a little longer to come along.
Q: What do you do in the winter?
A: I like to do the building projects and the forestry work – commercial thinning, planting, duck boxes, the outdoor stuff.
Q: What do you like best about Girl Scouts?
A: I like the outdoors part! I like the camp, the property. The fact that Girl Scouts teaches to leave things better than you found them. I went to school in Rockingham and saw the race track after Jamboree and after a race. After a race, there would be just a sea of garbage left. When the Girl Scouts did Jamboree, you could not tell that over 2,000 people had been camping there. That was always impressive to me.
Not long after I started working with the council, a leader had me help build bluebird boxes. All these girls were pounding and nailing these bird boxes together. Later in the paper, I saw a girl presenting a bluebird box to a library. There is a girl who came back with her child and she has her own bluebird box kit. Some Girl Scouts have come back to get married here! Lots of great memories.
Q: Do you have a favorite Girl Scout camping tip/story?
A: My girls were in Girl Scouts and I did the camping part. My wife did the troop part. I was proud to be there to observe Yellow Feather!
Q: What’s your earliest memory of camping as a kid?
A: I was in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and did family camping and Boy Scout camporees. We camped on private property and went to get water from a stream, saw an arrowhead on the ground and took it to the Scoutmaster. Before long we all picked up arrowheads that day. That memory jumps out.
Girl Scouts visiting Camp Mu-Sha-Ni have a great friend in Ranger David. On your next visit, be sure to thank him for the stage he recently upgraded, the wonderful fire circle and the time he takes to teach us all about nature. Got a question for our rangers? Leave one in the comments!