MARQUETTE - Caitlin Wright remembers a particular trip she took to the movies with her parents when she was just 5 years old. Prior to the start of the picture, Wright spied a troop of Girl Scout Brownies - the title for second- and third-grade Scouts - in the theater on a field trip.
"They looked like they were having so much fun and I looked at my mom and said, 'I want to be that,'" said Wright, now 18.
"I've been a Girl Scout ever since."
Girls explore the water’s edge during a summer camp session at Camp Nesbit near Sidnaw. (Photo courtesy of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes)
Caitlin Wright sings the National Anthem in Green Bay’s Lambeau Field Atrium during an event celebrating the formation of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. (Photo courtesy of Caitlin Wright)
And of the numerous memories Wright has accumulated in the past 13 years, her most precious come from Camp Pow-Low, a small parcel of land located on Mehl Lake, near Gwinn.
Each year, she, her troopmates and her friends would descend on Camp Pow-Low for a two-night, three-day stay, complete with camping, kayaking, swimming and crafts.
"I think some of my best memories come from just walking around that camp. It seems so big your first summer there," Wright said. "Now I look at it and I think, 'I seriously got lost here? What was I thinking?'
"I think some of my best memories come from just walking around that camp."
- Caitlin Wright
"But that was, I think, the best part. Getting lost, finding random cabins and just having fun."
Mary Vertanen is a troop leader and service area manager who oversees 20 troops in the Marquette area. She orchestrates the Pow-Low trips for Girl Scouts in the Marquette and Gwinn areas and was Wright's Brownie leader many years ago.
"She started (attending camp) when she was in second grade. She got eaten alive by all the bugs and she still came back the second year," Vertanen said.
When Wright, who has attended the camp on a nearly annual basis since, graduated from high school recently, she transitioned from an Ambassador Girl Scout to an adult member of the organization - thanks in part to the gift of a lifetime membership from the Marquette Community Girl Scouts.
The milestone also marked another shift, though. For the first time this summer, Wright will attend camp not as a camper, but as a counselor.
She will soon be a co-counselor at Sidnaw's Camp Nesbit and plans to fill the same role at Pow-Low next month.
Wright knows the change will mean more responsibility, but hopes to help the younger generation of Scouts have as memorable of an experience as she had. Those memories, according to Vertanen, are what camp is all about.
"It's seeing the girl who lights her first campfire with one match. Or the little girl who didn't want to go kayaking or canoeing, but didn't want to get out when she got back," she said.
And as Wright encroaches on her 14th year in Girl Scouts, she is making plans to further her involvement. In fact, she plans to join Campus Girl Scouts at Northern Michigan University, where she will attend college.
"The thing that really made me stay are the connections I've made with people," she said. "It has certainly given me a different point of view for looking at the world. I learned how to be a part of the solution, instead of the problem and I think that's going to continue for life."
Anyone interested in joining the Girl Scouts can contact Jill Rady at 906-225-8020, ext. 6014.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is kwhitney@miningjournal. net.