Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Girl Scouts Visit Old Coast Guard Station Museum

Girl Scouts began their ghost lore tour out front
 of the Old Coast Guard Station Museum.
As the sun began to set over the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on July 2, a group of seven Girl Scouts from Troop 636 and their families made their way to the beach to take a step back in time. They arrived at the Old Coast Guard Station on Atlantic Avenue as beachgoers made their way off of the sand, and the Girl Scouts were ready for an evening of local legends and true accounts of shipwrecks, ghosts, pirates and witches.

The tour was led by Leslie Clements, director of programs, education and volunteers at the museum, who began the evening’s activities by gathering the girls in front of the Old Coast Guard Station, which dates back to 1903. She asked the girls to close their eyes, listen to the sounds of the ocean and use their imagination to picture the isolated shoreline that existed when the lifesaving station was constructed. With this vision in mind, Clements told the girls about the hauntings reported in the museum, which over the years, served as a base for crews of surfmen who stood watch all day and night to rescue people and property from shipwrecks. She also talked to them about the demanding lifestyle of surfmen, ways that people were brought to shore during storms and how shipwreck survivors stayed alive until help arrived.

Troop 636 learned the story behind the
Norwegian Lady statue on the boardwalk.
During the 90-minute walking tour, which included stops along the boardwalk and at former beach cottages, Clements captivated the girls with stories of local Blackbeard sightings, the witch trial of Grace Sherwood, firsthand accounts of paranormal activity at the old Cavalier Hotel, the significance of the Norwegian Lady statue at 25th Street and more. Through her stories, Clements, who is a Girl Scout alumna and earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, shared with the girls unique, unearthly and sometimes unbelievable accounts in the more than 400 year history of present-day Virginia Beach.

For the members of Troop 636, the ghost lore tour at the Old Coast Guard Station Museum was just one of the many landmarks that they’ll visit this summer while working on completing the requirements to earn the Explore Virginia Beach patch. Their tour this month fulfilled the requirement to visit a water safety and rescue site in the city. These summer outings are a fun way for the girls in Troop 636 to keep in touch after a busy year in Girl Scouts, during which they sold cookies to raise funds for outings such as their trip to the Old Coast Guard Station Museum, worked on earning badges and more. During the past year, the older members of the troop also earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest award in Girl Scouting, for their project that created much-needed shade for animals in the outdoor area at the Virginia Beach SPCA.

The Old Coast Guard Station Museum is just one of the many community partners that offer special programs and tours for local Girl Scouts. Through their tour at the museum, the girls had a unique opportunity to learn about significant sites and events in the development of the city they call home today.

Girl Scout Troop 636 with Leslie Clements (far right in photo), director of programs, education
and volunteers at the Old Coast Guard Station Museum in Virginia Beach.