'Makeover' gives Scouts more accessible cabin

Before this year, Girl Scout camp was an ordeal for 12-year-old Caroline Carswell and her mother.


"It's a long trek," Donna Carswell said of the trip her disabled daughter would have to make uphill and through the woods to her cabin every year.

By the end of the week, Caroline would be exhausted.

This year, she had new accommodations in the Earnie Graham Cabin at Camp Tanglewood in Columbia County.

ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crews burst into Earnie Graham's life last December and built not only a home for her but also a handicapped-accessible cabin for the Girl Scouts.

The Scouts finished camp the week of July 10. This year, Caroline was able to stay for two weeks instead of the usual one.

"She didn't need me underneath her all the time," said Carswell, who is also the camp nurse and a troop leader. "She stayed by herself, so it didn't make her feel like she has a disability."

The new cabin sleeps eight and replaced a cabin that burned down after a ceiling fan short-circuit. Unlike the other cabins, it has its own handicapped-accessible bathroom, bunk beds and a chandelier.

The Scouts could point to other differences.

"They're like jail beds," 8-year-old Lily Rowe said of the cots in the regular cabins. "These (in the new cabin) are like our beds at home."

Any Scout with a disability is at the top of the list for the new cabin. For the rest of the beds, the girls are chosen at random.

So far, Caroline is the only disabled Scout who has been able to benefit from the cabin. As part of Caroline's Silver Award, the highest award for a cadet, she is going to reach out to other girls like her and introduce them to the Earnie Graham cabin.

Graham said the television show brought more to the camp than beauty and accessibility.

"More girls have signed up, more leaders have signed up and volunteers," she said. "Every year we get an increase, but nothing like this year."

Since the original airing of the show, life has slowly gotten back to normal for Graham and her two children. People don't seem to approach her in public as frequently. That is, unless her son is with her. For some reason, everyone recognizes him, she said.

"When I go out now people still say, 'Can I ask you a question?' " she said. "I immediately know what they want."

Augusta family watches 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' story told on national television

Did you miss the original airing? ABC will rebroadcast the episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition featuring Earnie Graham and her family at 8 p.m. tonight.

Spotted photos from Extreme Makeover in Augusta