Volunteer State, Part II: that time we made a Girl Scout cry

I last set foot in a Girl Scout camp more than 40 years ago. The memories, and more than one annoying camp song, came flooding back when we arrived at Paris Landing State Park, the site of our 3rd gig with A Year to Volunteer (Y2V for short). The creaky metal bunks, the smell of dusty cabins, the sound of wooden benches scraping the dining hall floor, the bug bites, the tall trees and crunching leaves — all were right there with me again.

That’s me bottom left, with my friends from Troop 73 in Frostburg, MD.
Several of us remain in touch via social media, and we’ve determined that the year was 1979.
Not sure how many of us can still sing “We are all from Camp White Rock” in its entirety, though.

The objective for Y2V at Paris Landing was to renovate structures at an old Girl Scout camp that the state had purchased for the park in 2009, and had fallen into disrepair. By refurbishing Camp Hazlewood’s dining hall, bunk cabins, counselor’s cabin, and bathroom/shower houses, we gave the park a giant leap forward in their vision of offering the site as a revenue-generating group camp, special event venue, and outdoor education center. 

And by the time our stay was up?

This local newspaper article about our work caused quite a buzz amongst the women who had spent childhood summers at Camp Hazlewood. One who came out to thank us in person, Vicki, was moved to tears, and that got the waterworks going for more than a few of us volunteers too, so yes, we really did make a Girl Scout cry, and in the best possible way.

Here’s the video, with Vicki right at the intro and again at about the 11-minute mark (but don’t skip through all the impressive “befores” and “afters” to get there).

Let me walk you through the camp and show you what we did.

First order of business: Y2V founders Shar & Phil laid out our objectives, safety requirements, and COVID precautions.
All the measures we volunteers agreed to follow on our first gig were also in place for this one, with the addition of TN’s state mandated daily temperature checks and symptom questionnaires.
The camp is a short drive from the main state park campus and marina.
We could have taken a more direct route across the inlet, but I don’t think all Tim’s tools would have fit in a kayak.
This is how the bunk cabins looked when we first arrived. Those rooftops definitely put the rust in rustic.
And the interiors put the … ugh. I don’t even know.
Let me just say we were thankful for our COVID face masks when we swept them out, as in addition to the thick layer of dust, there were lots of droppings and a few dead mousies.
Swept the roofs too. More than once.
But before that? Tim worked it with the safety harness, making this… a Safety Dance?
We replaced a lot of torn screens.
And scrubbed the bejeebies out of the cot frames, and the mattresses that were still salvageable.
After a week of cleaning, rust scraping, sweeping, caulking, patching, replacing, and priming the metal panels on the 7 cabin rooftops, we finally got to slather on the Girl Scout green topcoat.
And also after that week of cleaning, rust scraping, sweeping, caulking, patching, replacing, and priming the metal panels, the ill-fitting old hiking pants I’d been using as work pants had had it.
I could live with all the paint spatters and rust stains.
The big revealing tear on the seat? Not so much.
Dumped and replaced!
With cabin rehab complete, and only two work days remaining, Tim and I were assigned to help with kitchen renovation in the counselor’s cabin. A different team had already removed the old cabinetry and installed the new, so we got to add the finishing touches.
Countertops, sink, knobs and drawer pull: done!
The two of us did not serve on the dining hall renovation team, but I am still going to boast about what they did.
Look at that Before & After!
I don’t know everything that went on over there, but I can tell you that while trudging through mud and dodging wasps, those troopers hacked down overgrown brush, ripped off the existing siding, built at least 3 sets of new doors, installed new siding, and painted the whole shebang — including the original Jolly Hall sign.
And here we all are inside the new & improved Jolly Hall, for our official group photo on the last day of “camp.”
(photo credit: A Year to Volunteer)

Each of our Y2V experiences has provided a perfect combination of rewarding work, fellowship, and fun, and more than a few additional perks. At Paris Landing, the park comped our sites, their friends organization treated us to a pizza picnic lunch, spring came, and Tim took me to Paris for my birthday dinner.

Ah, springtime in Paris (Tennessee).

Where are we now, and what’s next?

We’re still in Tennessee, working our fourth Y2V project, at David Crockett Birthplace State Park. Our mission here involves constructing a new amphitheater and footbridge, creating signage, building a trail, and more.

Next stop: DRV service center in Howe, IN, for RV repairs. Again. It’s complicated.

My mess-up: Using “we” and “our” is tricky in these posts. Sometimes it means the whole Y2V crew, sometimes it means a small Y2V team, and sometimes it means only we two Rohrers. I hope nobody thinks that Tim & I are taking credit for having our hands in every single project or doing any one of them on our own, because we just don’t have that many hands. In this post, I’ve described the tasks the two of us worked on, and bragged on one that we didn’t. To learn how we got involved with Y2V in the first place (wine), read this.

For more about Y2V and their upcoming projects, visit them on

Paris Landing State Park was our third service project with Y2V. Others were/will be

Our Pandemic Caveat
We are traveling a lot less than we normally would, and as often as possible we choose destinations that offer ample outdoor opportunities, and are unlikely to be crowded. 
When we gather with friends or family, we keep our numbers small, and we request honest communication beforehand about their comfort level. 
We continue to wear masks in public and wash/sanitize hands frequently, we limit our outings, and we’ll get vaccinated when our age group is eligible.
 ~ The rrrrOHHHHRRRerrrrs, March 2020 – ?

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