The campground here is in shambles.
Rain and snow leak through the roof of the main lodge. Tree branches hang through the holes they punched in the shower house ceiling.
A 90-foot pine still lies across the top of a shelter. And the “biffy” roof slumps at an odd angle.
A biffy, as any good Girl Scout knows, is slang for the bathroom.
Such is the state of Camp Four Echoes - a decades-old Girl Scout Camp nestled amid the towering pines on the Lake Coeur d’Alene shore.
Nearly 2,000 trees snapped or crashed to the ground at Camp Four Echoes during the ice storm that ravaged the Inland Northwest last month. The damage to cabins, tent platforms and other buildings will cost thousands of dollars to repair, Scout officials said Friday.
It’s money the non-profit organization doesn’t have. And, thanks to the damage, some programs at the campground this winter may have to be canceled.
Each year, more than 1,000 girls from North Idaho and Eastern Washington flock to the pristine lakeside camp. They come to swim, sail and canoe in the summer. In the winter, they learn cold weather survival and snowshoeing.
“You couldn’t have driven down this road a week ago,” Camp Ranger Bill Potts said Friday, sweeping his hand toward the road leading into the camp. “This here was one big brush pile.”
Where the girls used to romp, the campground is now littered with unsightly stumps and tangles of broken trees.
“Wait until springtime, they won’t recognize it,” Potts said.
Potts lives at the camp year round with his wife and teenage son. When the ice storm hit and the trees started falling, he called his wife, who was away from the house, and told her not to come back.
“I tried to make a run for it but the trees were coming down like dominoes,” Potts said, explaining he made it only part way out before a tree toppled right in front of him. “I’ve never been that scared.”
Potts fled back into his cabin - one of the few Girl Scout buildings left unscathed. He was heartsick when he finally perused the destruction.
“It looked like a tornado went through here,” he said.
More than 15 trees fell on the main shower house. Sixty percent of the camp’s 42 tent platforms have been damaged. Some lay in wooden splinters, most are laced with fallen pines and mounds of snow.
An enormous tree pierced the roof of the maintenance building, leaving a mess of insulation and shattered trusses to repair. Workers spent Friday replacing the roof.
The Girl Scouts have run Camp Four Echoes since 1939. The storm damage comes at a time when the aging camp was already badly in need of repairs.
The main camp bathroom and shower house needs to be replaced. Built in the 1940s, the building’s plumbing has collapsed. Tiles crumble from the walls. The cost is estimated at $54,000.
Fifteen buildings need new metal roofs - $7,000. Scout officials plan to replace an outdated well system by this summer - another $30,000.
Scout officials hope to repair storm damage to Four Echoes by the time summer camp starts in late July. But some of the winter activities will likely have to be cancelled this year, said Lisa Engh, a program director with the Girl Scouts Inland Empire Council. Trees still hang at dangerous angles, as gravity urges them ground-ward.
Damage to just five buildings is estimated at more than $20,000, Engh said. Although the Scouts have insurance, they are still unsure how much of the storm’s wrath will be covered.
Scout leaders hope that salvage logging, already underway in the camp, will help pay for some of the needed repairs. So will the everpopular Girl Scout cookie sales.
But “It’s going to take a lot of help,” Potts said. “There aren’t that many cookies.”
This week, Scout leaders sent out a letter asking their more than 5,000 members for help. They are looking for donations of money, materials and time to help them repair the camp.
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MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition This sidebar appeared with the story: HOW TO HELP To help repair Camp Four Echoes, call the Girl Scouts Inland Empire Council office in Spokane at (800) 827-9478 or (509) 747-8091. Donations can be mailed to 1402 South Grand Blvd., Spokane, Wash. 99203.