Raising Funds Is a Snap for ‘Camp Cookies Built’

Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

Maybe the best moment was when Sherry Van Meter--ex-Mousketeer, Girl Scout mom--summoned Willa Dean Lyon from the small crowd gathered on the pool-side patio.

Van Meter stood at a podium, a gift box in her hands, a broad smile brightening her still-perky features. Addressing 100 invitation-only guests at Willa Dean and William Lyon’s Coto de Caza estate, she said as a former Mousketeer, she still feels partial to mice.

“And just the other day, a little mouse told me that you were a cookie mom, Willa Dean!”

Opening the box, Van Meter read aloud the icing inscription written on a cookie the size of a pizza: Our thanks to a great cookie mom.


And that’s when the perfectly poised Willa Dean Lyon--society hostess, former Girl Scout mom--had a close call with a blush.

“I don’t know how this rumor got out,” said Lyon, laughing, shaking her head. “But I guess I did bake a few cookies in my day.”

Last week’s party chez Lyon was hosted by the Girl Scout Council of Orange County to drum up donations to complete construction at Camp Scherman, the Council’s 700-acre weekend retreat in the San Jacinto mountains near Idyllwild.

“The camp, " said fund-raising chairman Ron Dominguez, “that cookies built.”


In operation for more than two decades, Camp Scherman has served an estimated 8,000 girl scouts annually, said Dominguez. With expansion and remodeling to accommodate handicapped girls, the renovated camp will nearly double it’s yearly occupancy, he said.

Dominguez said that what particularly impressed him about the Girl Scout Council--and the primary reason he agreed to head the $1.5-million fund-raising drive--was the organization’s self-sufficiency.

“This is the first time in 20 years that (the Girls Scouts) have asked for any financial support from the community,” he said.

During his speech to the assembled guests, Dominguez said the total cost of construction at Camp Scherman was $4.2 million. “Through their own efforts, they have raised all but the last $1.5 million, and now they’re asking for our help to complete the project.”


Mona Ware, executive director of the county chapter of the Girl Scout Council, also spoke from the podium, beginning her impassioned speech by saying, “I think Camp Scherman and the Girl Scouts are about the greatest things in the world ever invented.”

Among guests were Gregory and Joyce DiRienzo, who said none of their three scout-age daughters had asked to join the Girl Scouts, “and I guess because of my business,” said Joyce, an interior designer, “I haven’t given it much thought, scheduling-wise.”

Kathryn Thompson said the Girl Scouts weren’t part of her childhood in Dallas, but she scouted, nonetheless.

“My dad was a Boy Scout leader,” said Thompson, “and he let me go on camping trips with them until I was about 13 years old. That’s when the boys said they’d take me snipe hunting. My dad said, ‘OK, that’s it.’ ”


After pool-side cocktails and buffet dinner of beef tenderloin and Oriental-style chicken (an al fresco meal outshone by the Lyons’ majestic view of the purpling mountains), guests moved inside to watch a video of the renovation project and hear five scouts sing camp songs.