A splashin' success: Girl Scout Camp Bette Perot opens Aquatic Center

26 Jun 2014


(Retrieved from: www.palestineherald.com)


Resident campers of Camp Bette Perot will have a new state-of-the-art swimming pool to splash around in this summer, and many summers beyond, thanks to a $1.2 million campaign project to add a new aquatic center to the grounds.

On Wednesday, a group that included Girl Scout campers, executives, public relations coordinators and construction officials gathered in clusters under umbrellas to host a ribbon cutting for the new Camp Bette Perot Aquatic Center, followed by a luncheon and tour of the grounds. As soon as the ribbon was severed, a group of campers were quick to plunge in and test out the waters — in no way stymied by the sudden summer shower.

Nestled in woods west of Montalba — just a short jaunt down Texas 19 North from Palestine — Camp Bette Perot covers 1,400 acres and offers summer camp activities to girls from horseback riding to archery, with a ropes challenge course, hiking trails and now, a new aquatic center.

Jennifer Bartkowski, who serves as chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX), said the pool comes as the exciting first fruit in a $13 million campaign to enhance the Camp Bette Perot swimming experience for girls and transform Whispering Cedars Camp, a 100-acre property in South Dallas, into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Center of Excellence.

Bartkowski said a donation from the Perot family made it possible to install the new pool and facilities, replacing an older 40-year-old pool that “had seen its last legs.”

“It was just very important for them,” Bartkowski said, “for the girls to have a 21st century swimming pool and an opportunity to really have fun during camp, and so they gave us that funding to build this pool and this building and the pavilion.”

Bartkowski pointed to adjoining facilities, which include a main building and screened-in air-conditioned pavilion.


Bartowski said Camp Bette Perot is visited by 10,000 girls and adults annually, with 1,000 of those girls coming for resident camp over the summer — girls “from all over Northeast Texas.”

The camp is home to a renowned equestrian center, with more than 70 horses, and is the largest camp catering to Girl Scouts in the region. Currently, Bartowski is leading efforts to raise money for the $13 million campaign, which is about “halfway through,” she said.

As for transforming the Whispering Cedars Camp in South Dallas, funds will go to “providing a 'living laboratory' in which girls will be able to explore STEM careers, conduct on-site experiments, and learn the intricacies of the environment and biodiversity,'” according to the GSNETX website.

“We're raising money for that, and in about two years, we'll be looking at this property and raising money to transform the whole entire property (Camp Bette Perot),” Bartowski added. “We want to make this a real comprehensive camp where girls can come and maybe have waterfront activities and hiking and primitive camping opportunities, and really have all the amenities of a great summer camp.

“It's already a Center of Excellence for us, but we think we can do so much more because there's 1,400 acres out here, and it's just a gem. We want to build it out, we need a new stable and we need new facilities to make it the kind of property we want it to be. ”

As for the new aquatic center, Bartowski said the pool should last 50 years or so, noting that “this is an investment for the longterm.”

“Swimming is such a big part of camp, especially in Texas. You have to have a pool.”

The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas covers 32 counties, over 22,000 square miles and serves 33,000 girls and 17,000 adults. For more information, go to www.gsnetx.org.

A video from the event can be seen on the Herald-Press Youtube page at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Zop2elFymo.

- See more at: http://www.palestineherald.com/localscene/x1760113908/A-splashin-success-Girl-Scout-Camp-Bette-Perot-opens-Aquatic-Center?zc_p=2#sthash.D6Yctzcz.dpuf