By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma have successfully acquired funding for their $290,000 Give Storm Shelter Campaign. As a result, the organization recently broke ground on a state of the art FEMA F5 rated storm shelter at their resident camp near Marlow, Oklahoma.
The site at Camp E-Ko-Wah is in southwestern Oklahoma on scenic Lake Fuqua. It will be home to a multipurpose shelter that can accommodate up to 300 people and withstand the fiercest of Oklahoma weather.
The shelter will be equipped with 8-inch thick concrete walls reinforced with steel rebar and wrapped in a wood exterior to blend in aesthetically.
This girl inspired campaign launched across the council in 2013 with the intent to raise funds not only for the 50×24 foot shelter, but to provide for the purchase of two vans to be used for the safe transportation of girls.
The campaign was spearheaded by the girls and alumnae of Norman Troop 241 and chaired by their troop leader Brenda Wheelock. When Troop 241 was forced to cancel their camping weekend due to threats of severe weather, they were frustrated at the lack of protection at their camp. Wheelock encouraged them to take action.
“While the project was inspired and spearheaded by the young women in my troop – most of whom are now in college – it was embraced by the whole Girl Scout community, as well as businesses and foundations in Oklahoma who wanted to help our girls be safe at camp,” Wheelock said. “I think the fact that it was started by girls helped make the campaign successful.
“Having a storm shelter at camp is important to families who leave their children in safe keeping with Girl Scouts. The camp is in a rural area, so we really needed a shelter on site to keep girls safe during severe weather,” Wheelock continued. “We are so grateful to all those who donated and supported this important project to protect our kids and camp staff.”
Fundraising efforts are ongoing and will continue through September 30. All monies raised over the original campaign will go towards building a storm shelter at Camp Cookieland, which is located in Newalla, OK.
“Girls wrote letters and essentially started the campaign that we just finished,” said Shannon Evers, CEO. “This is a true example of how the Girl Scout Leadership Experience teaches our girls to take action and have a lasting impact on our communities.”
“Over the last two years, girls have worked tirelessly to collect pennies, troops have donated portions of their cookie sale proceeds and over 70 people raised money to go Over The Edge last summer as they rappelled down the side of Leadership Square,” said Crystal Slater, Chief Development Officer for GSWESTOK.
“These efforts, combined with generous gifts from donors such as Devon Energy, Steve Mason, McCasland Foundation, the J.E and L.E. Mabee Foundation and Linda Whittington were the keys to making this campaign a success,” Evers added.
Located in 39 Oklahoma counties in the central, southwest and northwest region of the state, Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
Through leadership-building programs, GSWESTOK offers girls pathways to explore their interests. They include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), healthy lifestyles and activities like the High Adventure Team and summer camps, community service projects through Bronze, Silver and Gold Award programs, environmental stewardships and more.
Currently, GSWEST has more than 3,500 volunteers donating approximately 420,000 hours of service to girls. Since forming locally in 1935, more than 375,000 girls have benefited from Girl Scouts.
For more information about the Storm Shelter Campaign, call 800-698-0022 or visit www.gswestok.org