Monday, July 22, 2013

Camp Misty Meadows

Much to my dismay my council, GS Texas Oklahoma Plains, closed my girls' favorite camp, Camp Timberlake, in Azle, TX.  This left me with few options when sending the girls to camp this Summer.  We have 2 other camps available: Stevens Ranch in Nemo, TX which is an 1.5 hour drive from my town and Camp Kiwanis in Amarillo, TX which is 336 miles or a 5.5 hour drive from my house.  I don't know the exact numbers on the attendance to the Amarillo camp, but the numbers have to be low.  I would not feel comfortable driving nearly 6 hours and dropping off my daughters for a week of camp.  If they were injured or sick I could not get to them fast enough.  Plus, that is a serious commitment taking on that drive.  I have heard rumors our council was looking into chartering buses for the girls, but once again I would NEVER load my daughter onto a bus to travel 6 hours without putting my eyes on the camp or staff.  Stevens Ranch is a nice enough camp, it is an equestrian camp and has a large pool, but the cabins are spread out lessening the safety and efficiency of the camp and the one experience I had with the camp I saw SEVERAL rattle snakes and even more scorpions.  It is not on my "consideration" list.  I feel cheated in my council with the lack of camp choices.  It's sad that as a GS, my girls have such poor options where other councils in my mind are overly blessed.  In this day and age where many girls are being raised in 2 households due to divorce or extenuating circumstances, I would think this issue needs to be addressed.  Not welcoming girls from other councils means that girls who are visiting their father or mother out of state or city for the Summer, may feel discouraged and choose not to attend a GS camp.

Our lack of "choice" camps however, did not discourage my girls from attending and as a parent and GS Leader I explored other options and councils.  I have to say GS does not make this easy on parents.  For the most part GS discourages girls from camping outside of their council.  One reasoning is that outside council girls are taking spots for their council members.  This I can sort of understand, but it is a lesson in supply and demand.  If the demand goes up because other council members are not satisfied with their own camps this should be a direct message to GS to invest in the camps that are heavily attended.  Second, the new on-line registration system can be a nightmare when you try and register an out of council member for a camp.  Without getting into the details... let's just say it is a complete mess. And finally, the funding and maintenance for the camps are provided by the councils themselves, so in their mind allowing outside girls in essence, eats a way at the hard earned cookie cash the girls within that council earned.  Many councils are charging a higher fee for camp attendance, if you are not a council member.  This point really irritates me.  My argument here is that each council must provide maintenance to these camps year-round, despite who attends.  And secondly, my daughters earned cookie cash as well.  The fact GS chooses not to evenly distribute the monies earned amongst the councils, is not my daughters' fault.  It's not like we are free-loaders by attending a different camp.  Plus, I truly believe the camp fee covers all the campers cost during their stay.  My daughter does not use more than $350 in water expenses or food.

Setting my soapbox aside, I chose to send my daughter to Camp Misty Meadows (San Jacinto Council) this Summer in Conroe, TX about a 3 hour drive from my house.  My mother lives in Houston and I could stay with her in the event my daughter needed anything during her camp stay.  What a FABULOUS experience!!!!!
I am so glad the closing of Camp Timberlake forced me to seek other options because I had no idea what camping outside my council was like.  WOW!  Camp Misty Meadows was everything I could ask for in a great camping experience:  friendly, loving, tight-knit camp staff, beautifully maintained camping grounds, good food, well organized activities and super nice cabins.  The minute we turned onto the dirt road leading to the camp I could see a big difference.  The dirt roads are meticulously maintained.  Check in was an absolute breeze in an air-conditioned lodge.  The girls were checked in based on their age level and camp for that week.  I estimate it took about 10 minutes to see the nurse and check my daughter in for camp.  The camp offered an e-mail address to send letters to your camper daily.  Also they posted pictures of your camper daily as well!  Sadly the horses were ill with a virus and the girls were not able to ride.  The council accepted the inconvenience in the best interest of the horses and contacted all the parents prior to their camp date, explained the situation, and offered refunds or an opportunity to attend a different camp.  We chose to stay at Camp Misty Meadows and were just as thrilled with our experience.  Camp Misty Meadows is an equestrian camp with immaculate maintenance of the horse stalls and equestrian facilities.  This camp shares 1000 acres with it's sister camp, Camp Arnold, which offers lake activities like fishing and canoeing.  Sharing the space is a brilliant idea and conserves resources.  While our experience at Misty Meadows was wonderful and I am inclined to just return year after year, the experience has peaked my interest.  How do the Girl Scout camps compare?  As a blogger I am interested in trying other camps and reviewing our experience.  Parents deserve to be well informed about the GS facilities, staff and experience.  Don't feel like you are forced to use your own council resources.  Active leaders should explore and reach out to other councils.  By interacting with other council websites, facilities, and leaders we learn how things can be done differently and in some cases better.
Please feel free to briefly rate or review any GS Camp your daughter has attended below in the "Comment" section.  All info. is helpful to parents and campers.





5 comments:

  1. My daughter is actually at Kiwanis (2 hour drive) right now and attended Stevens (6 hour drive) in June. We have been to Rio Blanco (1 hour drive) for Spring Break. I will say I prefer CSR to the other two but none really make me thrilled. She loves going to them. I will check out Camp Misty Meadows for next year but we don't have family in Houston which makes 12 hours a long drive in case something happens. I wish GS-TOP were better directed at maintaining camps.

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  2. Thank you for your comment. It is a disappointment that GS-TOP council does not have the selection of camps that other councils have, nor the quality, but I'd like to think this only means they have an area for improvement. Our daughters' opinion are most important in the end, but I personally have to have a level of comfort and security when dropping off my daughter: cleanliness, safety, staff, camp activities and organization all play a part in my decision. Sounds like Camp Misty Meadows will be too far for your daughter. My daughters hope to attend Camp Texlake in Austin next year, but I doubt this is much closer for you. I'd be curious to have people's opinion on this camp.

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  3. My experiences with Texlake are many years old at this point. My daughter went as a Junior and as a brownie, and the experiences were LAME. The theme of the Brownie camp was baking, and the closest she got to actual baking was stirring a brownie mix. I don' recall the them of the Junior camp, but they had a cookout where they got to watch the counselors cooking. Needless to say, the lack of real hands-on experience turned off my daughter, and while she remains very active in scouting, she isn't interested in attending a Girl Scout camp because they don't offer what she's interested in. Now, she has attended two Boy Scout camps, Chisholm Trail and Philmont, and those were so fun that she is heading to Catalina Island this summer.

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  4. Hi I am an 11 year old who attended Camp Misty Meadows two years ago. My experience was not as good as your daughters. While there I experienced a SEVERE migraine headache. At one point when it was at its peak, I couldn't walk, talk or see. I believe that the counselors and the nurse handled this situation non professionally. First of all, the counselors were swearing, which I think should never happen, especially in the situation at hand. Then the nurse just told me to lie down, which obviously wouldn't solve it. Even worse, my parents were not contacted and the only way they knew about it was because I told them when I went home. I'm glad your daughters had a positive experience, but I just wanted to share this with you and others viewing your website.
    Thanks for reading this -J

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  5. I appreciate your honesty J. This blog is designed to better inform parents and they need to know when things are not "ideal". Everyone has a different experience at camp and parents need to know their daughter is safe.

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