Kathie Ann Martin | 1953-2008

Girl Scout day camp was her labor of love

RIVERVIEW — Every summer for two decades, hundreds of local Girl Scouts frolicked at the camp that Kathie Ann Martin ran.

Ms. Martin decided two years ago to step down as the day camp director at Camp Dorothy Thomas. The day camp didn't survive her departure.

"When Kathie said it was time to quit, we all quit with her," said her longtime friend Leanne Huff, one of the many volunteers who helped Ms. Martin run the day camp. "After that, nobody stepped forward to do it. People said they would step forward, but nobody did."

Ms. Martin, 55, died July 6 after a short bout with pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis.

She had spent more than 30 years involved with the Girl Scouts, starting in her youth in Miami and continuing through her years of volunteer service with the day camp and other programs.

For the Scouts, the camp was just one week out of their summer. Few of them realized that Ms. Martin worked all year planning and organizing the Riverview camp, which grew from a handful of participants in the early years to become one of the area's most popular Girl Scout events.

But her work with the Girl Scouts was just one facet of her seemingly tireless volunteer work in the Riverview area. She was the president of the PTA at the school her three children attended, and for several years taught Sunday school at Riverview First United Methodist Church.

She loved the volunteering, she loved the Girl Scouts and she loved working with kids. But her husband said almost all her volunteer work grew out of her dedication to her own children and from her desire to be a great mother.

"We knew that for our children to progress the way we wanted them to, we had to be involved in their lives," Russ Martin said.

"And the best way for us to do that, without being overbearing about it, was through their school and their after-school activities."

Her devotion to her family didn't go unnoticed by her children. "She always put us first," said her daughter, Dawn Thomas.

"She was always busy with volunteering, but we knew her focus was on us. She was always part of whatever we were involved in, whether it was Girl Scouts or sports or whatever, she was always there."

But she kept up her volunteer work with the Girl Scouts long after her own kids were grown. And, in fact, her daughters would usually come and volunteer their own time at day camp every year.

Her efforts with Girl Scouts earned her the Thanks Badge, the highest honor the organization gives to its volunteers.

"Under her leadership, the day camp grew from a small number of girls participating to camp-wide activity," the citation for the award read.

"Kathie always planned an exciting and challenging program for the girls. It was this program of horseback riding, swimming, crafts, games and many more activities that kept the girls coming back year after year."

Besides her husband and her daughter Dawn, Ms, Martin is survived by her son Matthew, her daughter Kimberly Des Lauriers and two grandsons.

Marty Clear can be reached at mclear@tampabay.rr.com.

Girl Scout day camp was her labor of love 07/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 4:09pm]

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