When many of us hear about the Girl Scouts Organization, we typically link them to the famous cookies we overindulge in each year, but they are more than a brand for the delicious snacks. Their mission is to promote courage, confidence and character through various leadership programs, skill building and outdoor adventures. So when the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma sold their previous camp due to a turnpike relocation project, they saw the opportunity to build a new camp centered around their program. The Girl Scouts wanted the camp to promote outdoor-centered activities and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, a growing focus for the Girl Scouts. REES worked with the Girl Scouts to design a new urban camp that was more tailored to their programs and mission than their previous space.
Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma
Civil & Mep Engineer
Lingo Construction Services
HFSD Ladscape Architect
Creating the vision through listening sessions
REES hosted multiple listening sessions with a sample of the Girl Scouts’s 14,000 girls, staff and volunteers to help create the design narrative for their new camp. It was vital for our team to understand how the new camp could fix any issues of the past camp as well as promote the new STEM focus. From the listening sessions, we gathered the group wanted a camp where the outdoors was easily accessible and positioned around STEM programs. Board Members and staff also see the new camp as a place where the public could host various events.
Transferring the vision into design
Our design team took the information from the listening sessions and began the camp’s design. REES designed a two-story lodge to be the camp’s main building. It includes several program spaces including a STEM program area, an educational kitchen, an open and functional event room and a covered outdoor learning space. The lodge will also have themed bunk rooms along with comfortable living space serving as a secondary option to outdoor camping. A branded badge feature wall greets guests as they arrive to the lodge.
Tent shaped details on the building’s exterior minimize direct sunlight and create a classic camping emblem. Three treehouses add to the outdoor experience and serve as a place where the girls can camp as well as have troop meetings. An indoor rock wall was included in the design for geological studies. A zero-entry pool and deck are perfect for summer camps as well as underwater robotic experiments. A large amphitheater allows outdoor performances and large scout meetings.
Selecting the perfect site
The project team evaluated several potential sites, but a 14-acre site situated in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District was a perfect fit for the Girl Scouts. Its proximity to the Oklahoma Zoo opens the opportunity for collaborative efforts. The wooded site is centered in nature and located off Northeast Lake offering on-site excursions including kayaking, camping and hiking.
“It’s the outdoors meets STEM,” Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma’s CEO Shannon Evers said in an article published by The Oklahoman. “It’s a game-changer for our organization and for the state because we will be able to do a lot of programming and get girls outdoors while teaching them about science. Being close to the zoo and Science Museum ups the ante in an incredible way to allow us to give the girls an experience they wouldn’t normally have.”
This new urban camp will be a great asset to the Girl Scouts and the Oklahoma City community. REES is thankful for the wonderful experience working with the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and are thrilled to see the urban camp come to life.