Girl Scout, 95, goes to camp
Laurel Lake resident Gerry Kelly fulfills dream
By Jewell Cardwell
Beacon Journal staff writer
''If you never dream, how are you gonna have a dream come true?'' wiser minds than mine have concluded.
Geraldine ''Gerry'' Kelly knows that. Even dreams in Technicolor, too.
More importantly, the 95-year-old resident of Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson was wise enough to share her dreams with folks who, this week, made a very special one come true.
That of being a Girl Scout one more time.
The Girl Scout alum got her wish courtesy of a national program called Second Wind Dreams, in which Laurel Lake participates.
''Gerry always talks about her days in Girl Scouting and how she used to love to camp,'' said Mary Ford, Laurel Lake activities assistant.
''She said she never had the opportunity to visit Peninsula's Camp Ledgewood because her troop leader had another place to go camping.''
So the powers that be at Laurel Lake, led by Kathy Marged — who oversees the facility's Second Wind Dreams program — caucused and came up with a plan.
With the cooperation of the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, Mrs. Kelly was given lodging at the camp and a chance to fulfill her dream.
While she wasn't able to spend the night in a cabin, she did the next best thing, with the enthusiastic support of the staff that included Ford, Marged, state test nurse assistant Juanita Medina and aide Patience DeFratis.
Mrs. Kelly and company were even formally registered as Girl Scouts for the year. Their troop name was ''the Experimenters.''
The giggling group arrived at the camp Thursday, staying late into the night. Lunching, cooking dinner over the fireplace and making S'mores were just part of the adventures. ''We tried singing, too,'' she volunteered, registering a Simon Cowell-like, thumbs-down critique with her face.
Even so, the banjo/guitar accompaniment provided by Susan Bushko, Laurel Lake's wellness manager, was a hit.
Mrs. Kelly managed to pack in a lot of fun in a little time. So many, she said, that upon her return to Laurel Lake that evening, ''I got into bed immediately. I kept my socks on and my hearing aids in,'' she joked.
''I slept solidly until it was time for me to get up this morning [7 a.m. Friday] and come back.
''It bought back many fond memories,'' said Mrs. Kelly, who arrived Friday morning in time for breakfast over the fire.
''All I can say is, I'd hate to be starving,'' Mrs. Kelly joked from her wheelchair as she watched her pals loading brown lunch bags with bacon, hash browns and eggs and cooking them over an open flame.
Although it wasn't the breakfast she's used to at Laurel Lake — eggs with buttered wheat toast, orange juice and coffee, sometimes oatmeal — the roughing-it Girl Scout meal seemed to meet with her approval, as evidenced by the two forks she used to consume it.
''She's just so much fun,'' DeFratis said of the retired teacher and mother of three sons. ''She's always got a smile on her face. And she tells good jokes.''
Mrs. Kelly also has a real affection for playing cards — rummy, but mostly bridge. And she's very particular about her partners. ''I'm just very competitive,'' she explained.And a very satisfied Girl Scout these days, thanks to those thoughtful enough to recognize the power of a dream.