Thanks to a local Girl Scout troop, picnicking around the Scout Cabin in Riverside just got a whole lot easier. 

Members of Girl Scout Troop 41020 built an octagonal picnic table, installed smooth, varnished cut log benches around the fire pit, placed native plants around the cabin to improve looks and drainage and built an enclosure for garbage cans to enhance the amenities at the cabin.

After the village of Riverside decided to allow picnicking in parks, the scouts decided that the cabin needed a picnic table and other improvements. 

In 2015, Boy Scout Ben Lulich built a stone fire pit near the cabin as an Eagle Scout project, and the Girl Scouts decided that it would be nice to have benches around the fire pit.

So they decided to make some, using cut black walnut logs supplied by Lyons Tree Services.

They assembled the picnic table using power drills, sanded it down to a smooth finish and applied multiple coats of a protective sealant. They were so proud of their work that they wrote their names in magic marker on the underside of the benches.

The scouts worked on their project for more than a year at a cost of approximately $2,000. They received a $985 contribution from the Riverside Junior Woman’s Charity and raised money by selling baked goods at Riverside Cruise Nights, among other efforts. The village of Riverside contributed $523 in supplies for the refuse enclosure.

Twelve of the 15 girls in the troop earned a Silver Award by working at least 50 hours on the project. The Silver Award is the second-highest award a Girl Scout can receive.

On June 15, the scouts celebrated the completion of their work.

“It feels good, like a weight lifted off my shoulders, because we’ve been working on for it a long time,” said 15-year-old Azucena Gama, of Riverside. “I hope families use it, and the summer camps and all the kids who come here.” 

During the year-long project, Girl Scouts worked closely with the Riverside Parks and Recreation Department. They had make a presentation before the Parks and Recreation Board, which needed to sign off on the plans.

“This has exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Parks and Recreation Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Kos after seeing what the scouts had done.

Sarah Johnson, one of the three troop leaders, also was proud of her troop’s work.

“I’m really pleased with how it turned out,” Johnson said.

Andersen Concrete Pumping donated materials, tools and other equipment that the scouts used.

Troop 41020 formed in 2009; most of the girls in the troop are now heading into their sophomore year of high school.

The Scout Cabin is located near Indian Gardens Park on the banks of the Des Plaines River. It was built in 1928 as an overnight retreat for Boy Scouts. It is now owned by the village of Riverside and is operated and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. 

It is used as day camp location and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts use it as a place to hold meetings. It also is available for rent to private groups. Overnight stays are not permitted.