After spending more than a year-and-a-half of going door-to-door to raise funds, holding numerous meeting with East Hampton Town officials, and putting together a construction team after her initial contractor backed out, an East Hampton High School junior has completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project: rebuilding the cabin at Camp Norweska at the scout camp in Northwest Woods.
Last week, Lucia Ibrahim, 17, received a certificate of occupancy from the Town of East Hampton’s building department for the structure she practically willed into being.
To get a Gold Award, a scout must complete a project involving at least 80 hours of work. Only 5.4 percent of Girl Scouts nationwide achieve the honor.
“I’ve been in the Girl Scouts since I was 5 years old,” Ibrahim said. For her final project, she took inspiration from Cheryl Rozzi, her Sag Harbor mentor and aid to Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming.
“She is called the uber Girl Scout out here,” Ibrahim said of Rozzi, who had detailed the history of Camp Norweska to the scout.
When she began fundraising for her project, Ibrahim put together a factsheet about the site and the cabin.
The 56-acre parcel, which is owned by the town, has been used by the Girl Scouts since the 1950s. Alewife Brook Road is on the site’s southern border, and the long parcel of land is crisscrossed by Old House Landing Road. Rozzi believes it was constructed around the same time the town leased the land to scout troops in 1958. Several years ago, the roof collapsed during a major snowstorm.
As with the original, Ibrahim constructed a 20-foot by 30-foot cabin with no electricity and no running water. It’s not be used for sleeping, but rather provide shelter from storms when the Girl Scouts camp in on-site. It is wheelchair accessible, too.
Plans began with architectural drawings donated by Bill Chaleff of Chaleff & Rogers Architects in Water Mill. Ibrahim took those plans to Riverhead Building Supply and obtained an estimate on the cost of materials — $14,000.
She then started to attend town board meetings.
“I presented the project to Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and the board,” Ibrahim said. “They really wanted to see it happen.”
Anne Bell, of the supervisor’s office, and Dawn Green, of the town’s building department, guided the Girl Scout on the permitting process, and next came raising the money to make it happen. She started with large organizations, making presentations to each. The Rotary Club of East Hampton donated $1000, the East Hampton Lions Club $2500.
Ibrahim then went door-to-door, making her pitch to businesses in Montauk, where she lives, and in East Hampton. Donations — $50 here, $100 there — started piling up. One family that heard about the project contributed $500.
But then the estimated cost went up to $17,000, and Ibrahim was $5000 short. She went back to the town board, and in October of last year, the board approved the money needed to finish the job.
Ibrahim continued to overcome obstacles. Insurance became an issue, and the contractor lined up for the job backed out. Working with the town, Ibrahim put together a volunteer team of firms, with one doing the footings, another the framing, and so forth. She wasn’t going to let the bumps in the road stop her in her tracks.
In March, a building inspector approved the structure, and on April 30, Ibrahim received a certificate of occupancy. But still, her work was not quite done.
While there’s an area rug and some shelves, Ibrahim is hoping local residents will contribute more furnishings and board games for the Girl Scouts to play on rainy days. There is also the matter of the official opening. That date is up in the air, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ibrahim feels she has learned a lot from her experience.
“I definitely gained better people skills: interpersonal skills, conversational skills,” she said, adding that she feels comfortable talking to adults.
Her goal is to enter a six-year collegiate program en route to becoming a licensed physical therapist.