Girl Scouts of New Mexico: “Building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
This week I visited with Michael Dean, Ranger of the Elliott Barker Girl Scout Camp here in Angel Fire. He told me he is proud to be a part of their incredible organization, where for the past two years he has been jack-of-all-trades. Michael moved to Angel Fire from Muleshoe, Texas to take the job with Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails. When we met, he said to me, “I bet you never met a six foot, 180-pound girl scout with whiskers before!” He got that one right!
We loaded up in his truck to take a four-wheel tour of the camp, starting at the gate, where lovely flowers welcome all who enter. His four-legged companion, Bark Ranger, Belle, joined us. The Elliott Barker Girl Scout Camp is nestled in 500 acres of stunning mountain property bordering the Carson National Forest. As we embarked upon our tour of the campground I couldn’t help but notice the spectacular views of the Moreno Valley, all the way to Eagle Nest Lake. We stopped at a teepee the girls help build every year. The nostalgia jumped out at me as I observed all their hand prints in paint, signifying their accomplishment. Beyond the teepee is the Wishing Tree, where traditionally girls visit with their wishes. I imagined that many of those wishes must have come true! We ventured on to an amphitheater complete with stage and totem pole, also constructed by campers from the past.
As we drove, Michael told me of the generations of girls who come to camp because their mothers had camped there in the 1960s, 70s, or 80s. What a great legacy to share between a mother and a daughter. We continued on around the camp to tour Hoffman Hall, a meeting/dinning area that is open to the public for events, youth group gatherings, etc.,the horse barn and stables, along with staff cabins and ten camper cabins. The horse barn is rumored to be one of the oldest in the Moreno Valley. I was even invited to tour the 120-year-old ranger’s home, which Ranger Michael Dean currently shares with his lovely new bride Bobbie Jean. This building may eventually house a Girl Scout museum.
Although the camp closed in 2008 when the Chaparral and Sangre de Cristo councils merged to form the New Mexico Girl Scout Trails, it reopened in 2010 and has steadily grown in camper population each year since. A $25 million renovation project, which could make Camp Elliott Barker one of the most sought-after Girl Scout Camp destinations in the country, is expected to take shape within five years. This project will benefit both the Girl Scouts of New Mexico and Angel Fire, especially since one of the project’s goals is to designate Camp Elliott Barker as a High Adventure setting for campers. What better location than Angel Fire?!? Michael said that this year some of the campers even got to go off site to white water raft on the Rio Grande and to do the three-hour Zip Line tour at Angel Fire Resort.
The official season for regular Girl Scout camps at Camp Elliott Barker is June and July, but they host troop camps and retreats all year round. The camp facilities are also available for public rental as well. Michael has spent a lot of time clearing, repairing and maintaining the camp, and the way it’s shaping up is proof that he isn’t intimidated by hard work. He gave praise to the Moreno Valley Trekkers, the Firewood Angels of the United Church of Angel Fire and many other community groups and individuals who jump in and help clean, clear and preserve the campgrounds. He said he has grown to love the people in Angel Fire, who demonstrate such a spirit of community, it makes him happy to be so blessed. Personally, I think the Village of Angel Fire and Camp Elliott Barker are blessed to have him, too.
For more information visit their website www.nmgirlscouts.org or give Michael a call at 505-603-9646.