La Jolla Girl Scouts paint game courts at Starkey Park

Nestled at the end of Draper Avenue and under the Fay Avenue Bike Path, the Starkey mini-park got some recent TLC from three local Girl Scouts. The work, which the Scouts will submit for their Silver Award, involved painting a hopscotch court, four-square court and walking “maze” on the cement.

The Silver Award is the second highest award the Girl Scouts bestows, and the highest award that a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Esra Yazici, 13, Kristine Rumbaugh, 13, and Brooke FitzCluster, 14, completed the work over 12 hours on April 28, and a community celebration is being planned. From there, a report will be submitted to the Girl Scouts for Silver Award consideration.

“Most of us grew up here, so we have walked around this park and saw there were no kids here,” Esra explained. “We wanted to change that because the Fay Avenue Bike Path runs behind the park and connects to Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High School, and the La Jolla Elementary School is not that far away, so we were thinking it would be good to revamp this park and see more kids here.”

Brooke added her mother, Lizzet FitzCluster, sits on the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group, which influenced the idea. “I often go with her to those meetings and I saw how they’re working to revive the La Jolla Rec Center park and I thought of other parks around here that needed some love. My friends use the trail and thought of this place,” Brooke said.

As to how the three activities were decided, Kristine explained: “We thought of fun things kids like to do when they go to places like the Rec Center, it has a hopscotch board, so we took that idea; and kids love doing four-square at our school, so we wanted to have that; and then have a brain-game activity for littler kids, so we did the maze.”

The process began last fall, Brooke said, and the Scouts had to get the idea approved by the San Diego Department of Park & Recreation, followed by getting the proper permits and gathering the materials. With all the Ts crossed, the girls got to work on April 28 (after walking the grounds several times to determine the best place for each activity). They outlined and painted the lines for these activities using City-approved paint.

And the Scouts learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Esra explained: “When we were first painting, we messed up. The hopscotch court was supposed to be connected in one long line of squares, but it ended up being separate boxes, and we liked it better that way. So I learned that you have to just keep going and change certain things up and be flexible. I learned to how to work with others, and that you can learn from your mistakes.”

Kristine added: “I learned that little things can make a difference, even just some paint on a sidewalk; and how much fun kids can have at their neighborhood parks. A few days ago, we saw little kids using the new features, so it really made us feel good.”

And the City agrees.

Rosalia Castruita, area manager for the Park & Recreation Department, told the Light: “The community is going to enjoy this because there are more amenities now besides the bike trail and the playground. It brings more families together and brings back old-school playground structures with the hopscotch board. Hopefully, it gets kids off the iPads and on a four-square court to see what they do!”

Starkey mini-park sits along Draper Avenue between Gravilla Street and Bonair Way. A community party is being planned to serve as the official grand opening, with details to be announced.

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