By Meridith Orr, Program Executive
Your camp experience is made up of so many different things. Maybe you hiked the trails, made s’mores over a campfire or enjoyed a meal or activity in the dining hall. In all those experiences, there is someone behind the scenes who makes adventures possible for Girl Scouts by ensuring campers have everything they need.
At Camp Mary Atkinson, Don Perry not only maintains the property, he is known as a historian of the community surrounding this beautiful camp. One conversation with Don can reveal all sorts of fun and little-known facts, which makes him a fantastic resource for visiting troops! Recently, Don took a short break from his winter duties to visit with us about his job.
Q: How did you get started being a camp ranger?
A: By working part time at Camp Graham in 1999. I was there for five years and Camp Mary Atkinson needed a ranger. I thought I’d like to try it, so I did, and got the job. I used to work full-time as a materials manager for a plastics company in Granville County.
Q: How long have you worked with Girl Scouts/and our council?
A: Five years part-time before being full-time ranger at CMA in 20015.
Q: What’s a fun fact about the camp you manage?
A: The history of the families who lived here: the Richardsons and the Atkinsons. It surprises everyone that this was the birthplace of the creator of Vicks VapoRub, and that he was living around here when he did that – he had a drugstore in downtown Selma. His name was Lunsford Richardson II.
Another fun fact about the camp; it’s like Noah’s ark. I’ve seen at least two of everything out here. There’s a lot turkeys out here, even if you’ve never seen them.
Q: What do you love best about being a camp ranger?
A: I like so much it’s hard to say! I get a chance to be outside and experience so many different things. My job is so varied.
Q: What’s the ONE thing you do around camp that no one would expect that you do?
A: They probably don’t know I spend a long time walking the property, especially in the woods, to ensure everything looks how it should.
Q: If you could teach someone something about your job, what would it be?
A: I’d teach them how rewarding it is to see the kids enjoy learning and having fun from the land. I’ve been around long enough that there are former Girl Scouts who are now mothers bringing their kids here and that’s something to see!
Q: What do you do in the winter?
A: Forestry work. Landscaping, making improvements or changes for the upcoming year that needs to be done.
Q: What do you like best about Girl Scouts?
A: I like the opportunity it allows the girls. It’s a great organization because there’s so much there for them to take advantage of.
Q: Do you have a favorite camping tip/story for Girl Scouts reading this blog?
A: Remember you’re living in the woods and it’s a bit different than being at home. So, be prepared. I like the buddy system, and I think that’s the greatest invention in the world for Girl Scouting.
Q: What’s your earliest memory of camping as a kid?
A: I camped a whole lot with my family. I grew up camping on Kerr Lake. My fondest memory is the campfires. It seems to make it all special. I like to camp in the mountains when I go on vacation. I still love it. You’d think with a job like this, you’d get tired of it and want to go to a hotel, but I still love to be outside.
Girl Scouts visiting Camp Mary Atkinson have a great friend in Ranger Don. Next time you see him, please be sure to thank him for the fun stories, the safety of the property and the firewood! Do you have any questions for our rangers? Leave one in the comments!