Cheryl- Always a Teacher
Most 17 year old girls probably don’t consider whether they can haul a canoe on their car, but I wasn’t most 17 year old girls.
As a ‘tomboy’ not driven by sports, but the outdoors, it was a struggle to find girls who like the same things as me. My early memories growing up in Massachusetts and Florida included turning over rocks to find worms, catching lizards, and exploring any spot of green I could. I grew up in suburbia, but always loved spaces that weren’t covered in concrete.
I didn’t come from a family of campers, but have fond memories of beach trips, canoeing on the Rainbow River, and fishing with a sling line in Maine. It was a teen that I discovered I could drive my 1984 Toyota Camry to places near and farther to explore the Real Florida. Here I could discover the spoil islands around Palm Harbor, the springs to the north, and the sprawling forests in Ocala that seemed a world away from Pinellas county’s crowds.
I continued building my camping arsenal and dragging along who dared to explore with me. I still have that 1992 Indian River canoe and countless memories of the adventures that sparked my love of nature and the exploration of Real Florida.
Nearly 22 years have passed since that canoe looked so red. Since then I have made it my personal mission to feed my soul through nature. Fast forward to today and I have been married to my partner for all time for 16 years and have two precious girls who have inherited my keen sense of wonder and appreciation for nature. I am a certified teacher in the state of Florida. I just finished up my 10th year in the classroom. I have always wanted to reach and teach children about nature and the outdoors. Here we go!
Cynthia –Hobby to Profession
I loved all things science from a very early age. In elementary school, I remember turning our family garage into my own laboratory as I mixed potions from the small containers of compounds from my chemistry set. I climbed trees and swung from vines in our neighborhood park. I actually got in a fistfight with a boy because I saw him throwing rocks at ducks. Suffice it to say, I have always felt very connected to the natural world.
Fast forwarding to my adult life, not much has changed. I worked very hard through college to pursue my passion and become an environmental scientist. It all paid off in the end because now I get paid to climb trees, wade through swamps, and help protect species like the gopher tortoise. In 2013, I was honored by the Tampa Bay Association of Environmental Professionals with and Environmental Excellence Award for my leadership in starting a local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area. It was a proud moment for me and I was happy to share the experience with my loving husband. We met in a nature preserve, were engaged in a state park, and were married in a county park. He has taught me about hunting and fishing; I teach him plant and bird identification. We are birds of a feather, him and me.
Diane– Back Roads Explorer
I entered the nature scene when looking for low cost get-a-ways as a single mom. Setting off on one tank trips, I looked for the extraordinary and unorthodox Real Florida spots. I starting out camping with a borrowed tent, and then added my very own camp stove to my cache. While everyone around me was whiling away time in popup campers and RVs, I was content to listen to the owls through nylon walls. Eventually, I did end up with a popup, but yearned for the simplicity of tent camping.
I’m literally “grounded” again in tent camping and much happier for it. My love of tent camping comes from the deep desire that most of us have to disconnect from the rat race. No cell phone = simplicity. I have taken that love of introspection to my home garden where I experiment with hydroponics, heirloom veggies, and even a worm farm.
I am looking forward to sharing my laid back “Hey, it’s just camping” attitude with our Pink Camo guests. Hopefully our guests will appreciate my goofy sense of humor which is sure to turn any “situation” into a funny future tale.