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Girl Scouts of Alaska Hold Ceremonies for Camp Singing Hills

Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:13:02 AM AKST   Updated On: Oct 21 2013 12:36:53 PM AKDT
CHUGIAK, Alaska -

The Girl Scouts of Alaska will soon teach its newest recruits about the outdoors and science at its new facilities at Camp Singing Hills in Chugiak.

On Saturday, several festivities were held to celebrate the new space, including with a flag ceremony presented by Troop 407 by raising the U.S. flag and Alaska flag, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Miranda Villarreal, who helped raise the flags, says she’s thankful for the experience.

“It makes me feel wanted,” Villarreal said. “We are a troop and they wanted us to do it out of all the other troops in Alaska.”

Girls of Troop 690 also performed a skit to convey the message of friendship by showing the strength of a group of sticks as opposed to one.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a former girl scout, also offered her words of wisdom among other lawmakers who helped make the project happen.

In 2009, an arsonist destroyed a cabin the Girl Scouts used near Edmonds Lake in Chugiak.

Sue Perles, CEO Girl Scouts of Alaska, says that instead of focusing on the negatives, they found a way to turn the setback into something positive.

“It gave us an opportunity to think comprehensively about what our girls really needed,” Perles said.

The State Legislature gifted 40 acres of land to the girl scouts.

In 2010, teams came together and gathered input from girls, volunteers and board members to determine camp features that would cater to their needs. Board members initially suggested building cabins, but participants from various troops recommended yurts.

“Our primary mission is to build tomorrow’s leaders, to build girls of courage, confidence and character who are going to make the world a better place,” Perles said.

When completed, Camp Singing Hills will have new trails, yurts for year-round camping, a new waterfront area, along with the new 6,500 square foot main lodge. It will also be used to hold STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs.

Camp Director, Jen Dolmage, says the new space will make her experience teaching the girls that much sweeter.

“There’s no better thing than getting to teach girls and staff the things we teach here, the character building that we get to do,” Dolmage said.

Kiera Peace, from Troop 407, says she too looks forward to having a new place to play.

“I honestly couldn’t live without the people who build these camps and all of the things that they do just for girls,” Peace said. “They don’t have to do it, but they do it for our future so there’s something left.”

As of fall 2013, the camp is in the middle of construction and GSA has estimated it has spent about $3.5 million on the new facilities.

Madelyn Reynolds, of Troop 407, says she loves participating in the summer camps girl scouts offer.

“When I’m in the woods, it feels like there’s no brothers or sisters, there’s no parents - I’m away from home,” Reynolds said.