A lantern stood in for a campfire and a gymnasium floor played the part of tents and cabins after severe thunderstorms chased inside more than 100 campers and 40 staffers at a Girl Scout sleepaway camp in Springs Wednesday night.
It was the final night of Camp Blue Bay's second one-week session and more than 80 of the girls were due to return home from the Gardiners Bay site the next day.
The storm knocked out power around 7:30 p.m. as the girls were singing songs around their campfire, and all the lights went out. "Everyone started to scream," said Gabby McDonald, 11, of Seaford.
There were roughly 7,000 storm-related outages on Long Island on Wednesday night, the Long Island Power Authority said. Springs was one of the hardest hit areas. As of 5:23 p.m. Thursday night, 748 customers remained without power. A LIPA spokesman said power would be restored for most later in the evening, but areas that sustained the most damage may not be restored until Friday.
The storm damaged the camp's boats and a tree fell on one of the camp's two cabins. Throughout the night, staff members used their cell phones to update Girl Scout headquarters. The updates were shared with parents via the camp's website and Facebook page.
The Girl Scouts canceled their next one-week session, which was supposed to begin Thursday, but expect to reopen for the session that's due to begin July 29.
To help calm the campers Wednesday night, staff led them in songs for hours. "We sang songs until we couldn't sing anymore," said Tess Siegel, 11, of Rockville Centre.
With no time to retrieve sleeping bags before the storm hit, the girls had little more than the linoleum gym floor and contents of their backpacks to serve as bedding. "It was a really hard floor," said Jessica Strong, 11, of Seaford. "I used my friend's legs as a pillow."
Despite a rough night's sleep, she said she was sad to learn she had to return home Thursday. "I started crying when I heard we were leaving," Strong said.