Dummerston camp was first 'leap of faith' in a life of adventure

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Helen Doxsee, 101 years old, of Manchester, Vermont, has had the adventure of a lifetime. It all started when she was nine years old, when she experienced her first sense of homesickness.

After being dropped off at the Green Mountain Camp for Girls in Dummerston, she felt the need to come home. She sat down and wrote a letter to her mom asking her to come rescue her — a letter that did not last even a few hours before it was thrown in the trash. Helen was ready to have her first adventure, and from that point on her life was nothing short of excitement, with journeys that would take her all around the United States.

There are few camp memories that stick out more than the camp fire sing-alongs and the sleepless nights of childish giggles, but this one special day pushed Helen's courage, and her tolerance for cold temperatures, to the limit. A camp right up the road from GMC invited a few of the girls to come swimming in their river. Helen jumped at the chance. She can still remember the cold chill of the river water as it wrapped around her ankles.

To her, it was exhilarating and one of the best times she can remember having at camp. Swimming was a passion of hers, something that stayed with her into adulthood.

When Helen graduated from Brattleboro Union High School, instead of going to college as most people her age did, she did something she felt was far more patriotic. It was the start of World War II and Helen was among the first women to enlist in the United States Coast Guard.

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She moved herself and her belongings from her small-town life in Brattleboro to the big city of Seattle, Washington where she spent many years becoming the best version of herself, eventually leaving the guard as Chief Petty Officer.

Helen felt no homesickness when she left home to follow her passion for the "Deep Blue." The Green Mountain Camp prepared her for nights away from home as well as for the camaraderie and trust of her fellow women. Helen excelled in her field of communications engineering for the Coast Guard. She also recruited future Guardswomen and would travel with them to boot camps to ensure everyone arrived safe and sound.

After years of service on the Coast Guard, Helen moved back to Brattleboro where she met her husband and raised a family. She encouraged both of her daughters to attend Green Mountain Camp and hopes the tradition will continue to pass down the family line. She still lives an adventurous life at her home in Manchester. Her family can attest to the fact that she is always doing something.

Between cheering on her favorite NASCAR drivers with earnest and going to the local nursing home where she helps women knit, Helen is not planning on slowing down anytime soon.

Whether it was her first bout of homesickness or her time on the U.S. Coast Guard, Helen's life never stopped being an adventure. And all great adventures start with a first leap of faith, even if it's into a cold river that can still be felt

today.


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