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Girl Scout goes for the gold

Getting her hands dirty, Kendall Hovius earned her award for giving back to a camp she adores

Given the joy summer camp has brought her family, a Tabernacle resident decided to give back to one she loves. 

Girl Scout Kendall Hovius earned the gold award this spring as she completed a year-long project with her friends to rebuild changing rooms at Camp Inawendiwin. As a result, the camp — off Powell Place Road — has been decorated with red changing cabins.

Despite the official award ceremony’s cancellation due to the pandemic, the Winslow Township troop member remains elated by giving back to the camp and teaching other girls how to cut, sand and put together wood. 

“I spent a lot of time at camp when I was younger and I noticed the problems it had, as well as my sister, who was a lifeguard there,” Hovius shared. “There was a lack of changing rooms and I wanted to see how I can impact the camp, and on a larger scale, girls.” 

So she got to work with her family, grabbing wood, nails, hammers and paint. While admitting that teaching the skills to her friends was awkward at first, Hovius said she became more confident in her abilities and, in turn, the girls got used to the force of power saws.

Hovius had previously wanted to study the effect of marshlands over time in Tuckerton, with picture posts at the Jacques Cousteau Coastal Education Center. But the Girl Scout organization denied it, so she settled on the changing rooms. 

Before Hovius’ donation, there were only two places to change at Camp Inawediwin’s swimming pool. 

“It feels really good and I was really, really happy when my gold award got approved, because this is something that I will always carry with me,” the 16-year-old admitted. “I’ve done this thing and helped these girls and passed on these skills to them.”

Hovius, a member of Winslow Township’s Troop No. 30689, said her future does not involve construction or woodworking at the moment as she intensifies her studies in marine biology at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, a public vocational high school in Highlands, New Jersey. 

“My mom would bring me to the Camden Aquarium all of the time and I grew up in that and it is something I’ve always been into,” Hovius said.  

In the summer, the shark-loving teen aspires to study marine life in Florida in the University of Miami’s shark ecology course, though that may be delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic. 

As she looks back on her 13 years in the Scouts, Hoviius recalls her favorite patches and badges. 

“I love this badge, the ‘I Love Chocolate’ one, because we got to eat a lot of chocolate for it,” she said laughing. 

Still engrossed in the Girl Scouts’ ideals and goals, Hovius explained her troop has been afforded the opportunity to gain patches such as a revolver (where she shot a gun at a shooting range) because her leader loves outdoor recreation and wanted her members to be involved in it.

“I’m so happy,” she said. “It was my mom’s biggest thing for me to get my gold award done.”

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