We Camped at The Marys
by Ro Woodard
November 8-9, 2021
With joy for the experience, and hope for the hope future, this is one of the first Friends of Timbercrest Blog posts. It is commemorating the first campout at the newest camping area, The Marys - two beautiful lean-tos built by volunteers in memory of Mary Alice Campbell and Mary Cooper. (See the Wall of Fame for more information on them) The long road from the teardown of the original lean-to built in 1975 by the Hammers and Hard Hats summer camp unit to the huge collaborative effort of new and old (experienced?) volunteers of FOT.
For me it is very special. I was the unit leader for the original lean-to build. Didi Powell, who was my co-counselor was also on the camp-out as was Jennifer Schlick, our beloved leader and inspiration for all things FOT. I knew the two wonderful Girl Scout leaders that the lean-tos are named after. And for reasons unknown, I never camped out at the original lean-to, but Mary Alice and Mary Cooper did bring their troops. Shout out: If you have camped at the original lean-to, send us your memories and photos.
Upon arrival, Jennifer and I quickly settled in and then headed into the woods to explore some old logging roads, GPSing as we went for possible new hiking trails. We hiked uphill from The Marys to meet up with a logging road which crossed the power line. Lovely view down to Keyser Lake, Bellinger Lodge, and the hills beyond. Back into the woods the logging road curved around the hill above the lake. Various offshoots tempted us to detour and then return to the original road. Through the leafless trees we had glimpses of the lake. It finally ended at the boundary line as we noted posted signs for the Foothills Hunt Club and a deer stand. Taking often given advice for hiking at Timbercrest - to return to camp, just walk downhill. So we did. Beautiful woods with young hemlocks hugging the sides of small ravines all heading to the lake. Our “trail” choice took us to Beaver Bay and the Lake Trail. It was a wonderful experience to hike parts of Timbercrest that I had never been before. We’re thinking new trails!
Didi joined us just in time for dinner. Natasha “Nate” Johnson Patchen fondly remembers walking into the lean-to and having Mary Cooper announce that they would be roasting a chicken over the coals of the campfire for dinner. Nate thought she would probably die of hunger before dinner was cooked and then happily admitted that it was the best chicken ever!
So we roasted a chicken along with foil veggie packets. Best dinner ever. Cookies (bought from Wegmans - when roasting a chicken, you don’t have to bake) and hot cocoa with a giant marshmallow for dessert finished the feast. Did you note that we were camping in November? Beautiful sunny and warm days, blessed by both the Marys just for us.
The early evening darkness held a waxing crescent moon and lots of shining stars accompanied by the babbling of the little unnamed creek that runs along side of The Marys. Our roaring campfire had us “lingering” as the song says. We sat late into the night ending the evening snug in our sleeping bags warm and content.
Next morning waking early before the sun rose, we snacked on leftover treats of Jennifer’s shortbread cookies, Didi’s homemade applesauce, and peanut M&Ms from Ro. (You probably don’t want us helping to plan menus for your troop.) A pale rosy sunrise greeted us through the trees.
We had planned to leave early to get breakfast at the diner in Randolph, but being filled with cookies and M&Ms the day was too nice to leave camp early. So we packed up, said good bye for now to The Marys and headed to loop the lake on the Lake Trail. Included here for your enjoyment and to make you jealous are some of the lovely photos taken by Didi.
What next? I would like to issue a challenge to all Girl Scouts reading this. PLAN FOR YOUR TROOP TO SPEND A DAY, A NIGHT, OR A WEEKEND CAMPING AT THE MARYS. Then add to this blog to tell everyone of your experience.
Soon The Marys will be added to the property rental list at Timbercrest. Cost is $10 for a day or $20 per night. I’m writing a How to Enjoy The Marys guide to help you plan and have a great experience at this primitive site.
Watch the Friends of Timbercrest website and Facebook for the announcement of how one lucky troop can win a free day and another a free weekend at The Marys. We’ll also be having the Grand Opening and Dedication at our spring work weekend May 2022.
So stay tuned.
Amy Jo (AJ) Dorler
11/27/2021 07:27:48 am
What a beautiful way to honor The Marys and christen the lean-tos! I was a camper in the Sunset unit when the original was erected. I was in awe of those older girls who worked on it. Thanks for sharing!
11/27/2021 09:56:09 am
I remember to aj, when it was built ,have slept in them several times , i remember taking girls back to sunset for a nite hike for the last latrine run!! Some girls wouldnt do there duty in the woods!!! Lol any thought of latrine out there?
Donna M Dolce
11/27/2021 09:54:47 am
As a young leader of a Senior Troop with Celia Bechmann, we decided to camp at the lean-to's one weekend in the spring. Jingles was in the troop and may remember the grand time we had until the June bugs decided to bombard us! Many flew into the campfire and we heard them being roasted, while others, like bats, headed for our heads. Everyone quickly covered up....but alas the fire was too much of an attraction as they swarmed towards us. So we quickly doused the flames and decided an early bedtime was in order. I think there were 8-10 of us closely cramped into the one lean-to, but it was memorable.
11/27/2021 07:58:40 pm
I was in that Hammers and Hardhats unit with Ro and Didi in 1975. I learned so many life skills and more importantly, I learned a lot about myself. Many thanks to Ro and Didi for their leadership. It was truly a transformative summer. I’m so proud of everyone for the amazing collaboration and work in getting The Marys built. May there be many new memories made in those beautiful shelters.
11/27/2021 09:31:10 pm
I was also in the Hammers and Hardhats unit, all those many moons ago. And was fortunate enough to be part of the teams that removed and rebuilt the new lean-to’s. I am so grateful for the long time friendship of all you ladies. Ro, thanks you for this lovely recitation of your night and days there. I felt like I was there!
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