Girl Scouts need help saving 19th-century retreat from eroding into Indian River Lagoon

Riverfront Girl Scout Lodge property damaged by Hurricane Irma

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – Tucked away in south Merritt Island, it takes a scenic drive through the same nature trails the Girl Scouts walk to get to one of their favorite retreats in Central Florida. 

When Kristen Bedard was a teenager, she was a camper at the Riverfront Girl Scout Lodge.

Originally built in the late 1800s, the two-story building on the Banana River was a hunting lodge that hosted U.S. presidents at the turn of the 20th century.

Theodore Roosevelt hunted ducks on the property, which back then was only accessible by boat.

In more recent times, the Girl Scouts took it over, built a treehouse and rebuilt the dock a few times due to storm damage.

Two years ago, Hurricane Irma destroyed the dock again and most concerning eroded the shoreline.

"While our shoreline has slowly been eroding over the years, Irma really took a bunch with her," Bedard said. "You see in various places throughout, where there's now just a giant gap," she said.

The Girl Scouts of Citrus Council said it will cost around $200,000 to build a new seawall preserving the shore and build a new dock for the campers to go sailing and fishing.

Since the scouts told friends and businesses last week, one person already donated $10,000.

The Girl Scouts said insurance will not cover all the repairs.

"We're doing the right thing, and I hope it gets the attention of a lot of people," Bedard said. "If we don't do something now, and this historic building (ends up) in the Banana River, a piece of history (is) now gone."

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