August 5, 2004 – In the mid-1970s, a quarter-acre of a seven-acre camp in Bordeaux was cleared. A couple buildings went up near a duck pond, and Camp Corrine Lockhart was born. It was a retreat for Girl Scouts, but church groups, businesses and anyone else who needed some time away from urban island life also found refuge there.
Only a few miles from downtown Charlotte Amalie as the crow flew, the camp seemed a world away for many of the girls who spent their summers learning about the trees on the wooded acreage, singing songs near the pond and shaping pottery that was fired in Lockhart's kiln.
Shortly after Hurricane Hugo struck in 1989, Camp Corrine Lockhart was destroyed by fire. Since then, the camp has sat quiet, but the need to rebuild has never diminished.
"Every month we get calls from other councils around the country to be a destination," Jacqueline Dennis, president of the V.I. Girl Scout Council, says. "The vision is to establish it as a destination for Girl Scouts to get involved in ocean and marine activities. From that point, we would be able to generate revenue and be a resource to other girls."
She adds, "Of course, the church groups can't wait for the camp to be rebuilt."
Rebuilding isn't cheap, but help has been forthcoming. A $50,000 architectural grant from the Planning and Natural Resources Department was used to have new plans for the site drawn up. DPNR also has awarded the Girl Scout Council $275,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the construction work, which is expected to begin next spring.
Dennis says plans call for construction to be completed by sometime in 2006. But the CDBG funding won't cover all of the redevelopment costs. "Realistically we won't be able to do everything unless we have community support," she says.
The site plans include a large main building housing a kitchen and, a nearby, nine sleeping cottages arranged in a semicircle around a fire pit. There will be a walking trail with four rest stops, each with a theme relating to self- and community development.
"I'm quite elated it will reopen, because the girls need it badly," Corrine Lockhart, now 80 years old, says. "It will give us more interest in the Girl Scout movement. You can teach the girls a lot of things, but as far as camping, they've been limited."
The new plans call for some luxuries that were not available in the '70s, according to Lockhart, who was instrumental in opening the camp back then. Money ran out before cottages could be built, she relates, so campers had to make do sleeping on cots in the dining room — something no one seemed to mind.
"They learned so much to get along with each other," she recalls. "I think they miss it a lot, and kids today need it now more than ever. The camp gives them a chance to be away from pressures and family and lets them realize you can learn from one another. You never know what someone can teach you without realizing it. There are no limits."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.