By Meridith Orr, Program Executive
What do you remember about your last visit to a Girl Scout camp? Whether you splashed in the waterfront, had a sock hop in the dining hall, or sang songs around a campfire, there was someone who worked behind the scenes to make all those adventures possible for Girl Scouts by ensuring our campers have everything they need.
At Camp Graham, you’ll see Ranger Larry on his rounds, delivering firewood and water, making repairs and helping out wherever needed. His knowledge about the wildlife around the property make him a great resource for troops who want to learn more about life on our corner of Kerr Lake! He will also be the first to tell you how a rainy day at camp can make the best camping memories. Recently, he took a break from his winter activities to answer a couple of questions for our Girl Talk blog.
Q: How did you get started being a camp ranger?
A: The opportunity came out of the blue. Having been around Girl Scouts for a while, I understood the job and the basics and I thought, “I would enjoy doing that job.”
Q: How long have you worked with Girl Scouts/and our council?
A: I’ve been with the council for a little over three years as a ranger. I’ve also helped out with programs such as NC Sparkle Day for several years. In Ohio, our daughter got involved as a Daisy, where my wife was a leader and volunteer, and I helped there with events. In total, probably about 20 years, with volunteer/parent experience.
Q: What’s a fun fact about the camp you manage?
A: Something that surprised me is the amount of birds and wildlife I’ve seen on the camp properties, especially the waterfowl. In our cove we have loons, which is a northern bird. They come down here in winter. They get here in November and stay until April. I was working down here and heard that familiar call and wondered “what is that?” And I walked down to the waterfront and found them. We have a lot of owls on the property, including barn, bard, great horned, and screech.
Q: What do you love best about being a camp ranger?
A: There’s always something different every day. It’s never boring. I love being outside. I don’t mind working in the weather. I like working with my hands and all the people. I enjoy interacting with young people and the summer resident staff and the folks that come from overseas talking about what they like to do in their home country and cultures. The kids are always great.
Q: What’s the ONE thing you do around camp that no one would expect that you do?
A: One day we had a large group, so I helped set up the salad bar, grabbed dishes, and refilled the water pitchers at lunch. If someone needs some help with something, I’ll pitch in.
Q: If you could teach someone something about your job, what would it be?
A: The most important thing would be how to interact with all the different people on the camp property and do the best you can to make their experience a memorable one. And plumbing!
Q: What do you do in the winter?
A: I spend a good deal of it clearing of underbrush, trimming trees, cutting down dead trees, cutting firewood, getting rid of discarded or broken materials, doing little projects inside, some paneling, repairing holes in walls. Cleaning the staff house stove and oven, countertops and shelves and cleaning out the light fixtures. Thinking about next season and spring – what I’d like to do to improve the grounds and program spaces.
Q: What do you like best about Girl Scouts?
A: How all-inclusive it is. Everyone is welcomed. You meet all different types of kids and everyone is made to feel important.
Q: Do you have a favorite Girl Scout camping tip/story?
A: My best camping memories are when it was raining. A rainy day is never a bad day camping. We had many of those experiences with Scouts and with the family and those are the ones our kids remember, too.
Q: What’s your earliest memory of camping as a kid?
A: My parents were not campers, but my earliest memory is taking a blanket and a couple of tomato stakes and mom’s clothesline and making a tent and sleeping in the backyard. I was probably seven or eight years old. Today my favorite camping spot is in the mountains, whether it’s the Appalachians, the Foothills or the Allegheny mountains in the Eastern U.S. I like the beach, too. Anywhere near water, such as a river, lake, or stream.
Girl Scouts visiting Camp Graham have a great friend in Ranger Larry. Next time you see him, please be sure to thank him for the landscaping, the firewood and all the little things he does to make your visit a good one. Have a plumbing question for Ranger Larry? (We’re sure he wouldn’t mind.) Leave one in the comments!