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Aug 21, 2019 2:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Local Girl Scout Plans To Rebuild Decades-Old Cabin In East Hampton

The cabin at Camp Norweska during the 1970s.
Aug 29, 2019 1:18 PM

Inch-thick manila folders filled with Planning Board documents, building supply costs and lists of donations were strewn across a Victorian-style wooden table in the East Hampton Library recently as Lucia Ibrahim, a 16-year-old Girl Scout, explained how, for the past year and a half, she’s been aiming to rebuild a destroyed cabin at Camp Norweska in Northwest Woods for her Gold Award project. Lucia started off as a Daisy in prekindergarten, going on to receive countless badges, including the sought-after Bronze and Silver awards. She is now considered a “Juliette,” which is an individually registered Scout, as enrollment and participation has dwindled on the East End and most of the girls in her Montauk troop quit when they entered middle school.

“I’m not allowed to quit things,” Lucia said with a chuckle.

“My rule is, if you start something, you have to finish it,” added her mother, Cindy Ibrahim.

Lucia, who is a junior at East Hampton High School, sat next to her as they looked over the architectural drawings for the cabin, which they hope to start rebuilding in October. The Gold Award is the final and most prestigious Girl Scout award, and it will make Lucia a Girl Scout for life.

Other girls she knows built benches or clothing drop boxes for their final project, but Lucia’s plan is a little more ambitious. Her idea is to completely rebuilding a 50-year-old, 600-square-foot cabin at Camp Norweska in Northwest Woods. The 20-acre camp used to have a 600-square-foot cabin near the entrance.

In the 1940s, Camp Norweska was owned by Suffolk County. In 1948, the county transferred the camp to the Town of East Hampton. In 1958, the town agreed to lease the campgrounds to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for an annual fee of $1. In exchange for being able to use the land for camping, the Scouts were responsible for taking care of the property.

A cabin with no electricity or running water was built in the 1950s, and it has been continuously “maintained” by the Girl Scouts since that time. Originally, it had a fireplace, which Lucia and her mother have been fighting to retain, but the town code will not allow it to stay once the cabin is rebuilt.

“I have camped there myself numerous times,” Lucia said, adding that the Scouts would pitch tents, build fires, have singalongs and roast s’mores at the site. “I would love to see other Girl Scouts be able to enjoy what I did,” she said as her mother flipped through paperwork to prepare for an upcoming meeting of the East Hampton Town Planning Board.

Although Girl Scout troops have shrunk in Montauk and East Hampton, Lucia joins other Scouts from across Long Island during “camporees” at various sites. As a high school student who plays sports every season, Lucia said she doesn’t have the time to devote to camping, but that if she could, she’d camp at Norweska every week.

“This cabin has been here since 1950, so we’re hoping this cabin lasts another 50 years,” Ms. Ibrahim said.

Lucia’s Girl Scout vest is covered in badges, including ones for selling more than 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies each year, volunteering at the Animal Rescue Fund, handing out water during the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride and other activities.

Four years ago, the cabin’s roof caved in and the building collapsed on itself, leaving the cabin unusable and a danger to campers. The building had housed an 88-key piano, the fireplace and open space for campers and their sleeping bags. The debris was cleared by the town this past April after Lucia and her mother brought the danger to their attention.

“It wasn’t safe — if you walked on it, your feet went through it. There were nails sticking out. It was just not safe at all,” Ms. Ibrahim said.

For the past year and a half, Lucia, her mother, and her father, Fahd Ibrahim, have been fundraising to rebuild the 20-foot-by-30-foot cabin. As of last week, they’d raised $9,000 of their $14,000 goal. Lucia said that donors are able to make general donations, or sponsor a part of the cabin, such as the doors, windows or roof.

“I have been in touch with people that are willing to donate some materials, labor and money — but it is literally going to take a village to get this project completed,” she said.

Bill Chaleff of Chaleff & Rogers Architects drew up the plans for free, Lucia said. Riverhead Building Supply put together a supply list that estimates $14,000 worth of materials.

The East Hampton Lions Club donated $2,500, White’s Liquor Store donated $500, and the Montauk Teachers Association donated $400, to name just a few. Some people have given $10 and some have given $20, Lucia said, adding that “everything counts.”

For her Bronze project, Lucia built a “bug hotel” at Montauk’s Deep Hollow Ranch that still stands five years later. It’s a place for frogs, spiders, bees, butterflies and other insects to use as shelter and a place to reproduce.

In the eighth grade, for her Silver project, Lucia set up “muff mitts” at the gazebo, baseball field and beaches in Montauk to encourage people to clean up after their dogs.

To rebuild the cabin, Lucia already has contractors and other volunteers lined to build the footings, framing and roofing for the cabin. The Lions Club also plans to get involved with the construction. Ms. Ibrahim said she’d like to get the high school involved with the project if possible. Recently she has been going around East Hampton and Montauk asking local businesses for donations and dropping off the plans and materials list so people can get an understanding of the project.

Lucia said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc is one supporter.

“Lucia has done a tremendous amount of work, from researching the property’s history to collecting an impressive amount in monetary donations, to securing building plans and a materials list and enlisting volunteers to help carry the project through,” the supervisor said last week. “Her energy and commitment to rebuilding the camp structure is to be commended. I encourage others to get involved and join Lucia and the town in this worthy community project.”

For more information, or to donate, contact 631-601-9010 or email luciadiane3@gmail.com.

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