Gloucester Girl Scout Troop 1427 co-leader Sherri Sliker stayed true to the Girl Scout motto "Be prepared" two weeks ago when she helped save a man from drowning.
A waterfront supervisor and leader of the canoe program for scouts at the Burkes Mill Pond Camp in Gloucester, as well as an American Red Cross small craft safety instructor, Sliker spent Saturday, March 23, leading an outdoor certification class for adult scout leaders at the Colonial Coast Council’s Camp Darden near Franklin.
The group was learning to prepare lunch over an open fire pit at the pond-side camp when someone mentioned a noise they had all been hearing in the background. Sliker said it was a yelpy sound, as though a neighbor at one of the homes across the pond were repeatedly calling a dog, but Sliker was so intent on teaching the class that she hadn’t paid much attention.
Then suddenly the quality of the sound changed, and someone said, "there’s a ‘p’ on that sound—somebody’s calling for help."
Underbrush obscures the pond from sight in the area where the group had gathered for lunch, said Sliker, so Nevin Bunnell, a trainee from the Southside, climbed up a tree to see what was going on and saw a man holding onto a jon boat on the pond. With the water a frigid 40 to 45 degrees, everyone knew they needed to hurry.
Bunnell called for some rope and Sliker headed to a garage-style structure where canoes and life vests were stored. As she rushed there, she gave directions to her trainees, sending one to stay with the campfire to make sure it didn’t get out of control, telling another one to call the camp caretaker and get him there to unlock the garage, getting someone to call 911, and sending someone to the water’s edge to reassure the victim and make sure he stayed conscious.