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Dublin High Juniors Work Towards Girl Scout Gold Award at Camp Butano Creek

August 25, 2010

Dublin High School  juniors Annie McDonald, Charlette Tanner and Dawn Priest, are active members of Dublin Girl Scout Troop 32869.  Ten of the eleven troop members are part of Dublin High School’s Class of 2012, and nearly all are working towards their Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the service equivalent of the Boy Scouts Eagle Award.

McDonald, Tanner and Priest spent 17 days at Camp Butano Creek near Pescadero this summer, first as Voyagers in a CIT (Counselor in Training) unit and returned three weeks later to serve as counselors to a large group of young Girl Scouts, participating in activities such as horseback riding, archery, kayaking and surfing. 

All three Dublin High juniors worked with different units during the 7-day camp, which also included three days of pre-camp preparation. They worked in concert with adult leaders in each unit.

Annie McDonald shares her experiences from Camp Butano:

“When you spend a week at camp, it begins to feel like home.

“That’s why I decided I wanted to become a sleep-deprived, underfed, overworked counselor at Camp Butano Creek in Pescadero, California. Turns out, it happened to be one of the best experiences of my life.

“I have been to Butano Creek four times as a Girl Scout camper, beginning in the summer between fifth and sixth grade. I have kayaked and surfed and cruised the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, sang at campfire, slept in a tent and had countless meals in the dining hall.

“So this summer, Charlette Tanner — my friend and fellow Scout who has been at Butano with me all those years — and our friend Dawn Priest (this was her first camp experience) headed to Butano’s first session as Voyagers, or counselors-in-training. We had to pick camp names (I was Spice, Charlette was Stitch, and Dawn was Pumpkin). There were twelve of us in the Voyagers unit, and we spent the week literally studying how to be a good counselor. We interviewed the camp directors and other counselors under the guidance of our own counselors, Moondog and Redwing. At the end of the week, we chose which units we wanted to be placed in, and went through our “graduation ceremony” where we ceremoniously crossed the street on our own and received our nametags with our camp names on them.

“Eighteen days later, we returned for Session 3. I was placed in Mariners, which consists of girls entering 7th-9th grade. Charlette was in Beachcombers, which is 4th and 5th, and Dawn was in Drifters, which is 5th and 6th. As staff, we had to arrive three days early for pre-camp staff training. We were all working with, and living with, volunteer adult counselors, many of whom have worked at the camp for years.

“Once the campers arrived, the real insanity began. As a counselor, you are constantly juggling your coffee and your clipboard while keeping an eye on your kids and wondering when you can get away to grab a piece of chocolate or to shower. It was stressful and busy and very confusing at times with such a full, structured schedule, and it was exhausting. You have to stand up and make a fool of yourself nearly every day in front of 140 people, dressing up in costumes and leading songs at campfire. You get up earlier than your campers and go to bed much, much later. But most important, it was incredibly fun and rewarding, because you are watching these girls grow and change and mature and learn before your very eyes, and they surprise you every day.

“I was sitting in the dining hall the last night of camp at about 1AM in the morning, watching our program directors and photographer put the finishing touches on the end-of-week slideshow. I was trying to stay awake so I could make it back up the massive hill to my campsite when they were done, when I looked around and realized that this place, with the bugs and the dirt and the constant feeling of having bitten off more than you could chew, had become my home after ten days.

“It was where I felt comfortable, and it surprised and slightly saddened me that the next day I would be returning to my equally stressful and busy reality back at home. And yes, the next day, I was very sad to go, even though returning home meant taking a legitimate shower and drinking good coffee.

“But I think it’s a common sentiment among camp counselors, and at least among Charlette and Dawn and I, that even though leaving is sad, it just means next year will come that much faster.”

In addition to a challenging academic schedule that includes three Dublin High Advanced Placement (AP) and one Honors course, Annie is an active member of the Dublin High Drama Club (which just returned from a roadtrip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), an accomplished Irish Dancer with the McGrath Irish Dancers and a member of St. Raymond’s Church CORE leadership team and youth choir groups.

Like McDonald, Tanner is a member of the youth choir and leadership groups at St. Raymond Church. She is also a member of the Dublin High School Swim Team and both Tanner and Priest are part of the Dublin High Irish Guard Marching Band Color Guard unit. Priest will be participating in the Dublin High ROP Animation & Motion Graphics program.

– Michelle and Annie McDonald

Dublin High Students Perform in Camp Butano Girl Scout Skit

  1. Geri Cooney permalink
    August 25, 2010 10:30 pm

    These girls did a great job as couselors at camp. I heard it over and over again from many of the adult counselors working with them. Girl Scouts has given them the opportunity to learn and lead and make a positive difference in their community. The Dublin schools have been very supportive of Girl Scouts – providing venues for troop meetings and events. Tomorrow’s leaders!

  2. Katherine Utsumi permalink
    August 25, 2010 11:26 pm

    Having worked with these three amazing young ladies (I shared a tent for10 days with Annie aka Spice or Spicey Spice (as the younger girls liked to call her), I can tell you that our world is in wonderful hands. I’ve been an adult volunteer counselor at Camp Butano for three years now (and a Girl Scout leader for six years) and these ladies completely and thoroughly amazed me. Honestly, if I did not know they were voyagers (i.e. high school students), I would have pegged each one of them as college students. I know my daughter (a 6th grader) is looking forward to camp next year in hopes that her counselor will be Spice, Stitch and/or Pumpkin.


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