Tesi Strickland, Pickles to her friends, may not have been a Girl Scout as a girl, but she’s made up for it as an adult. She’s currently leading the planning committee for the Camp Darden Reunion, one of three upcoming reunions for campers and staff of local Girl Scout camps—part of the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Her face beams with the excitement of a young camper when she talks about the upcoming event.
“These are going to be great fun,” she said with a huge grin. “I’m already having a blast helping plan the reunion with former camp staff and volunteers. It’s like old times again.”
Tesi has been involved in Girl Scouts for years, initially as a volunteer and later on the staff for a short period. She says she believes in what the organization stands for and appreciates what it did for her—helping her develop courage and the willingness not to give up during tough times.
“I became involved when my daughter, Wendi, wanted to become a Girl Scout Brownie,” she said. “It was a dream come true for me. I always wanted to be a Girl Scout, but I never had the opportunity because I had an overprotective grandmother, who didn’t allow me to do a lot of outside activities. But my friends who were Girl Scouts would share everything they did at their meeting with me, so I guess I was an unofficial member when growing up.”
Tesi still keeps in touch with some of those friends and is hoping they will attend one or more of the camp reunions. They’ll be able to share memories and enjoy a look back to when they were girls and young women in the organization.
Memories from her volunteer years include how Tesi earned the nickname Pickles. “Wendi’s leader was very avid about the girls finishing what was on their plate,” she said. “ The troop leader bought traditional camp foods like hot dogs, chips, and pickles for the girls’ first overnight at Camp Darden. But she didn’t realize the pickles were spicy, garlic ones. Each girl came up to me and said they couldn’t eat their pickle, so I took each pickle and stuffed them into my pockets. There were thirty-six girls, so you can imagine what I smelled like by the end of the night!”
For several years, Strickland received a jar of pickles each Christmas. “To this day I still don’t know who gave them to me,” she said. Perhaps the donor will show up at one of the camp reunions bearing gherkins and an end to the mystery.
The Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast camp reunions will take place at the following locations: Camp Darden in Franklin on August 4; Camp Skimino near Williamsburg on August 18; Camp Burkes Mill Pond in Gloucester on September 22;. Guests can expect camp tours, demonstrations, traditional camp activities, exhibits, and an opportunity to reconnect with other Girl Scout alumna. You can find more information at www.gsccc.org.