Guiding Girl Scouts

At Work

The father of two daughters took a cut in pay to teach kids the wonders of the outdoors

At Work


May 09, 2007|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to the Sun

Billy Heinbuch

Outdoor program specialist

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, Baltimore

Salary --$35,000

Age --41

Years on the job --Nine

How he got started --Heinbuch began working with the Girl Scouts as an information systems supervisor, repairing and maintaining computers. Two years ago, a temporary spot opened at one of the resident camps teaching nature-oriented programs and Heinbuch was asked to fill in since it was his hobby. "They asked me to take over for two weeks. I loved it and realized it was a better fit for me" than information technology.

Later that year the position of outdoor program specialist opened, Heinbuch applied and got the job.

Typical day --If Heinbuch is not busy running a day camp or other program, then he's planning or developing one. His days during the spring months are spent getting ready for the five-week summer day camp that runs mid-June through early-August at various camps throughout the area. He must staff his camps, decide what lessons will be taught and what activities will be offered. He is one of three year-round outdoor program specialists. In addition to the summer camp, he also runs various daylong programs throughout the year on weekends and during winter and spring breaks. Most of the programs he operates revolve around nature, leadership skills and Girl Scout values.

Female-dominated work --He's one of about eight men out of a staff of 80. He said he doesn't mind since he has two daughters of his own. "I have one daughter extremely taken with Scouting. I've seen what it has done for her, and in taking this job I get to be a part of that for other girls."

The good --"The reward you get from making just a little bit of a difference."

The bad --"Red tape and paperwork."

Special projects --Heinbuch coordinated the opening of the Caitlin Dunbar Nature Center, at Camp Conowingo in Cecil County. The center was developed in memory of former Girl Scout Caitlin Dunbar who died of cancer. Heinbuch worked closely with her father, Alex Dunbar, in developing the nature center. Next summer, a second Caitlin Dunbar center will open in Howard County at Camp Ilchester.

He also led a conservation project along the Magothy River at Camp Whippoorwill in Anne Arundel County. Girl Scouts planted native grasses to soften 130 feet of shoreline that butted up against a stone wall. "Herons were wading through the grass at high tide within a month or two after we planted it. The impact was almost immediate."

The girls --He works with Scouts as young as 5 or 6 and those up to 17 years old. His largest day camp has about 100 girls, but a typical camp will include about 50 girls.

Career change --Heinbuch said information technology was a "thankless" job. But with the Scouts he gets to see the results. "Knowing it is affecting a child in a positive way, it has to be good."

Pay cut --Making the switch required Heinbuch to take a "sizable" pay reduction, but he said he doesn't look back. "The benefits of liking your job totally outweigh monetary gains."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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