PENINSULA, Ohio — It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know Camp Ledgewood in Peninsula is a blast, but Sylvia Acevedo just happens to be one. She worked on two missions for NASA before becoming an executive and entrepreneur in the tech field. Her newest job title is CEO for the Girl Scouts of the USA.
On Thursday, Acevedo toured the new Chickadee Program Center, visited with former and current Girl Scouts and even took a quick ride on a zip line.
"I love Camp Ledgewood," Acevedo said. "The trees are amazing. The birds are amazing and the activities for girls, fantastic!"
The $3 million center, named after a native Ohio bird, has large rooms and a kitchen to host girl programs and activities as well as volunteer training sessions.
The FabCab is a mini digital fabrication lab with equipment used to create rapid prototypes.
Other additions include a fire pit, flag pole plaza, senses badge trail, bell tower and climbing wall.
The center is part of a $6.2 million investment at Camp Ledgewood, which also includes new cabins and the installation of WiFi throughout the camp.
Niya Robinson, 15, of Cleveland Heights, has been a girl scout for seven years and loved what she saw.
"Girls can know that they can feel empowered and know that you're not limited to certain things in life. You can be a scientist. You can be a mathematician," Niya said.
In recent years, the Girl Scouts have been challenged to grow their numbers. Two decades ago, there were 3 million of them across the country. Today, there are about 2.5 million. In addition, Girl Scouts now have the choice to join the Boy Scouts.
"We're really just staying focused on what we're doing and they (Boy Scouts) are in the news a lot for other things and we're just trying to stay focused on what we do well," Acevedo said.
Jane Christyson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, believes interest is picking up. She said the number of Girl Scouts locally increased one percent from last year.
She believes the STEM investment at Camp Ledgewood can be a difference maker and encourage other girls to join.
"Women get left behind in a lot of ways because as girls they didn't build their confidence and understand that these are careers. The are some of the highest-paying and fastest-growing careers in the country today," Christyson said.
"We're really preparing the workforce tomorrow for the Cleveland area today," Acevedo said.