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Girl Scout camp head leaves after decade in charge

Staff Photo: Nicole Puckett. Lilburn Girl Scouts Day Camp Director Martha Whitman is retiring after 15 years of service, 10 as camp director. Whitman said she still plans to help behind the scenes at the camp.

Staff Photo: Nicole Puckett. Lilburn Girl Scouts Day Camp Director Martha Whitman is retiring after 15 years of service, 10 as camp director. Whitman said she still plans to help behind the scenes at the camp.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Smiling girls wearing bright colored hats decorated with "swap pins" and matching blue "It's Greek to Me" T-shirts crowded around camp director Martha Whitman on Tuesday to show her how much fun they are having at this year's Lilburn Girl Scouts Day Camp.

But the camp atmosphere is bittersweet for many girls and volunteers, because Whitman is retiring after 15 years of service, 10 as camp director.

The Lilburn Girl Scouts Day Camp has been captivating girls, and even boys, for 30 years and will continue after Whitman leaves. The torch will be passed to another volunteer.

"I'm sad to see her go, but I know how much hard work it is, so I can't say I'm disappointed," said Susan McManus, a camp volunteer. "I'm happy for her. I think she's passed through here and she's done her time, and she's done an awesome job, and I think she's ready to move on."

McManus, who has two older girls involved with the camp, said she thinks Whitman has a contagious energy and a Girl Scout passion which sets the tone for the camp.

But Whitman says she does the job because she wants to serve the community and she loves seeing smiling faces surrounding her.

"I feel like it makes a really positive difference in the community and it's so much fun to see all the people having so much fun for the week, so it makes me feel good, but more importantly it makes the community a better place," Whitman said.

This year's camp theme is "It's Greek to Me," and the campers have the opportunity to learn about Greek mythology, constellations and leadership all while doing crafts and singing their favorite camp songs.

Girls get to make vessels with Greek designs, participate in a creek walk to search for clay and learn how to grind barley with a mortar and pestle.

Whitman said retiring feels like watching your children grow up; it's nice to see them taking the next step.

"I think that it's important for people to see that other people can do this job," Whitman said. "If you stay in a job for too long, other people begin to think that no one else can do it, and I think 10 years is a nice round number, so it's time for someone else to step up."

However, Whitman isn't leaving the Girl Scouts altogether. She said she still plans to help behind the scenes, but she wants to see the camp continue without her.

Casey Kozozemski, program aide and rising senior at Brookwood High School, said Whitman successfully makes the camp enjoyable for everyone and brings the girls together.

"We are going to miss Martha a lot, a lot," Kozozemski said. "We love her."