Camp Mahachee spans decades, provides oasis for Girl Scouts

Times have changed since the first Girl Scout troop in Florida was created in 1923. As the number of troops grew, the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida Inc. was created to hold the Girl Scout movement together. The council eventually designated Camp Mahachee as a destination for girls to learn from nature and how to preserve it. After 65 years, Camp Mahachee is still doing what it set out to- provide a safe space for girls to learn and grow.

“The facility exists only to serve girls,” said Pauline Powell Russell, chief mission to market officer with more than 30 years of experience in the council. “It’s a place to go with their groups, learn new things and try new experiences under the guidance of trained adults.”

After raising $3,337 through the sale of Girl Scout cookies, the site for Camp Mahachee was purchased from the Arthur Curtis James estate in 1945. Mahachee was dedicated for the use of the Girls Scouts on Nov. 7, 1948.

This 11½ acres of hammock land at 9950 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, has the additional advantage of being adjacent to Matheson Hammock, the Miami-Dade County park. The winning suggestion in the contest to name the camp, “Mahachee,” is a Seminole Indian word meaning “growing” or “progressing.”

It’s an oasis from the 21st century,” said Suzanne Levitt, Girl Scouts service director in Coconut Grove. “It is exactly like it was when the girls 65 years ago started using it.”

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