May 16-17, 2009
By Hayleigh Daugherty, Age 13
Girl Scout Troop #9
Cactus Pine Counsel, 7th Grade Girl Scout Troop 9 volunteered to join the Arizona Antelope Foundation (AAF) on a work project to conserve the habitat of
pronghorn antelope. Through troop leader, Jennifer Anderson, and her husband, the project manager of the AAF, Scott Anderson, the girls were invited back on the scene because of
their excellent performance at the previous work project. A total of nine girls, two moms, and four dogs were able to pack into two vehicles and drive three hours from Scottsdale to a remote
camp fourteen miles off a dirt road near Seligman, AZ on the Yavapai Ranch.
It was an interesting trip for the girls, considering the surprising and unusual events that
occurred. Because of early release from school, the girls from the BASIS Scottsdale Middle School were able to get a head start. Lesson one: It is uncomfortable to have one driver, four
full-grown scouts, and three 50 lb. German Shorthaired Pointers in the cab of a Dodge Ram for four hours. Lesson two: The discomfort is rewarded with a content driver (aka, Scott not mad at
us) and the sight of wild antelope for the first time.
Due to lack of space in Mrs. Anderson’s little Toyota, the troop voted to use their hard-earned
money to rent a minivan to bring two adults, five Scouts, and a full-grown Golden Retriever. Lesson three: A rented minivan cannot successfully drive down a dirt road without getting a flat
tire. So while the early girls had set up camp for the whole troop and were happily roasting hotdogs and marshmallows for dinner, the van and its crew were hobbling toward a patiently
waiting Scott awaiting rescue. Scott and his trusted companion, Dodge, rode in to the rescue.
After loading the entire contents of the soon-to-be-abandoned van into Scott’s truck, in the dark,
on the side of a dirt road, they eventually made it to camp around ten o’clock at night. (3 adults, 5 girls, 1 Golden Retriever, 1 Dodge Ram, 1 bumpy road).
The next morning brought a warm rising sun over the valley and very groggy Girl Scouts. After a
breakfast of muffins and banana bread, but without transportation, the girls loaded up with any volunteers willing to take them to the work site about five miles away. Tasks included cutting old
wire, rolling it up, and replacing it with new, antelope-friendly wire. However, after a few hours in
the blazing sun, it didn’t take long for the common question of “Where’s lunch?” But that wasn’t
all. Because Girl Scouts know the importance of staying hydrated, the water bottles were soon empty. Hayl and Victoria volunteered to walk about a mile and a half back to the parked trucks
to bring back the long anticipated water to parched volunteers. When they returned, there were nine very happy girls with tomato, cheese, and turkey sandwiches.
Going back to camp was a relief for Catherine and Hayl once they finished a bit earlier than the other girls. They were greeted by Mary and Bill Keebler, the gracious cooks of the trip who were
preparing the steaks and hamburgers for that night’s meal. However, they were also met by a not so friendly entity. Lesson four: A dust devil is much more powerful than you may expect.
While Hayl and Catherine helped hold down tables, they didn’t notice Hayl’s tent, the TARDIS (named after a time traveling phone booth), becoming unsecured and flying away! Sleeping
bags, backpacks, and all! Lesson five: It is not fun to chase a very large moving tent. By the time the other girls got back to camp, Catherine was staking down the TARDIS while Hayl was
inspecting her favorite birthday present to make sure was safe and sound. Some of other items caught up in the whirlwind were not so fortunate.
One of the most important lessons learned on the trip wasn’t for the girls, but was declared by
them: Troop 9 absolutely, under no circumstances, use lighter fluid to start a fire. They prefer a nice cook-fire, rather than a blazing one. The girls prepared a small fire for their evening
s’mores, which the boys then doused thoroughly with lighter fluid. The girls were not impressed.
They found it quite humorous, though, to watch three boys attempt to roast marshmallows over their proud chemical creation. It was all fine and good if you like your marshmallows burnt to a
crisp all the way to the core.
After a fantastic steak dinner and chocolate cherry cake dessert, the troop went back to their
younger years, and for the first time in a long time, you could hear the sound of mixed voices singing campfire songs. One of the girls made the comment that the thing she would miss the
most about the project was seeing all the stars that she couldn’t see in Scottsdale. Sometimes the best reward for hard work is the simple treat of a quiet night.
I have been a Girl Scout for eight years now, and a member of Troop 9 for five. As Jen and
Scott’s daughter, my sister and I have been on at least six AAF work projects. This was the
second AAF trip with our Troop, and I must admit, it was the hardest I’ve ever been on. I speak
for all our girls when I say “Thank You” to Bill and Mary for absolutely everything they did for us
on this trip. From cooking superb meals to letting us use their trailer’s bathroom, the Keeblers were incredibly kind and hospitable to us. Also thanks to every other member of the AAF who
invited us come back to help our environment. Projects like this are what keep high school girls
in Scouts. It’s our planet, our responsibility, and an honor to work with the people who dared to step up to the job.
Yavapai Ranch volunteers:
Scott & Jen Anderson, Art Boswell, Mark, Kyler & Zach Boswell, Will Coffee, Hayl & Allison
Daugherty, William Lynn Evans, Jerry Guevin, Don Johnson, Bill & Mary Keebler, Jim McCasland, Richard Ockenfels, Tim Pine, Larry Wilson, Robert Stodghill, Scott Sather, Tice
Supplee, Shane & Cade Stewart, Bryce Waddell, G&F - Darren Tucker, Jeff Pebworth, Jeff Corcoran, Janice Stroud, Troy Christensen, Girl Scout Troop #9.