Friday, May 12, 2017

One of the Nine Tree House Cabins at Camp Chowenwaw Park

Camp Chowenwaw Park, is a Clay County gem that remains largely unknown.   When I was out there recently to do a program, I was surprised that people in close proximity to the camp had never heard of it (unless they were a former girl scout!)

Amphitheater at Camp Chowenwaw Park
The park is 150-acre site containing undisturbed wetland and upland environments and is home to a plethora of wildlife.  It is located at the mouth of Black Creek, just outside of Green Cove Springs, FL.
Girl Scouts ready to scout at Camp Chowenwaw (Clay County Archives)
It began back in the 1930's when a group of ambitious Duval County women set out to start a Girl Scout Camp. They named it Chowenwaw, the Creek word for "sister".  On July 1, 1933 the camp was dedicated and the first camper arrived.  For more details on these persistent women and their ambitious, depression-era project, check out the Clay County Historical Archives.
(Clay County Archives)

The Girl Scouts operated the camp here for more than 70 years.  In the Spring of 2006, the camp moved to a different location and The Girls Scouts sold it to Clay County where the camp was converted to a park.   The public can now enjoy hiking trails, picnicking, wildlife viewing,  tent camping or renting one of the camp's cabins (including their tree house cabins!).  In addition to all of the activities listed above, if you're there on the third Saturday of the month you'll get to see The Historic Girl Scout Museum, open from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Camp Chownenwaw is located on 1.5 miles of shoreline on Black Creek and Peters Creek off of the St. John's River making it a perfect place for kayak or canoe exploration.   The park has a public canoe launch area (just be prepared to carry your boat for a couple minutes in order to reach the launch site).

Canoe / kayak launch into Black Creek at Camp Chowenwaw Park
You won't be the first person to kayak these waters or hike these trails; People have been enjoying this prime location way before it was ever a girl scout camp. This site has been inhabited by people for at  least a couple of thousands years.  According the Florida Master Site File, Archaeologists have recorded evidence of human habitation along this creek dating back to 700 B.C.

Text and Images (except where noted) by FPAN Staff: Robbie Boggs

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