New Jersey Resort Welcomes Scout Campers
There were no bugs or noises that went bump in the night to keep hundreds of boy and girl scouts awake this past weekend in a beach camping experience at Mariner's Landing Pier in Wildwood, N.J.
There was simply sun, the sound of the ocean rolling in and the smell of fresh fries wafting from the Boardwalk through a mini-city of tents. The scouts camped on the beach for two nights as part of the 16th annual Beach Jam, which brings scouts from across New Jersey and beyond to the resort, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
"It was really a wonderful experience for them," Jackie Cox, one of the leaders of Girl Scout Troop 1618 from Laurel, Md., said of the event, which was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday and was sponsored by Morey's Piers.
As scouts who participated in the weekend event folded their tents and rolled their sleeping bags Sunday morning, they said they loved being able to enjoy the Wildwood boardwalk and nearby Mariner's Landing Pier.
"I loved going on the rides and walking on the Boardwalk," said Jahaana Chappelle, 13, who visited with other members of her Laurel troop.
The annual Beach Jam attracts scouts from several states, including New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Scouts and their leaders bond and practice what they learn during their meetings.
Sierra Witherspoon, 12, of Laurel, said she joined Girl Scouts to spend time with her friends, many of whom were already active in the program.
"It brings great opportunities to people," including scholarship money for college, she said.
Maleika Matthews, another leader from Troop 1618, said the weekend taught her troop members firsthand what it was like to camp outside.
"It helped conquer their fears," Matthews said, adding the girls worked as a team to assemble a tent for the first time Friday in the pouring rain.
While first-year campers said they enjoyed the weekend and looked forward to seeing how the experience changes when they are no longer considered rookies to beach camping, returning campers said they knew what to expect and used the time to forge a stronger bond with their troop.
Nicole Dehearde, 15, of Hope Township, Warren County, said her favorite part of the weekend was feeling the sand between her toes as she was surrounded by her friends.
The last time Dehearde attended the Beach Jam was in 2005. This year, the troop – which is comprised of girls from five different high schools in Warren County – extended an invitation for the weekend to their siblings.
The younger sisters of some of the high school-aged scouts helped set up camp with the troop and learned how scouting differs throughout the various levels of the program.
"We're all together like a happy little family," Dehearde said.