'Makeover' gives Scouts more accessible cabin

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

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Campers and counselors at Camp Tanglewood play inside a cabin built by ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew last December. The cabin for the Girl Scouts features a handicapped-accessible bathroom, bunk beds and a chandelier.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Campers and counselors at Camp Tanglewood play inside a cabin built by ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew last December. The cabin for the Girl Scouts features a handicapped-accessible bathroom, bunk beds and a chandelier.

"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."

On TV

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.

Comments (5) Add comment
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bclicious
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bclicious 07/20/11 - 06:07 am
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As a Columbia County

As a Columbia County resident, I am glad that we were able to benefit off of Augusta Richmond County's efforts. I believe that they spent around $10,000 or so on security. This cabin makes a fine edition to Columbia County, and what's best; we didn't even have to spend a dime or lift a finger to get it!

Good Job Augusta!

corgimom
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corgimom 07/20/11 - 08:47 pm
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"They're like jail beds,"

"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."

Cots are part of the camp experience! If it were just like home, why would you go?

Emerydan
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Emerydan 07/24/11 - 03:52 pm
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That's a lot of thin mints

That's a lot of thin mints

AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 07/24/11 - 04:56 pm
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Yay! I want to see it! I

Yay! I want to see it! I didn't get to see it on TV or the computer last time and I was in it! Don't bother trying to figure out who I am, I don't think they showed my face, just a close up while I was working in two of the rooms.

AutumnLeaves
6009
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AutumnLeaves 07/24/11 - 04:58 pm
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The special cookies had

The special cookies had graham ingredients, fittingly.

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