In 1968, at age ten, Mrs. Gendernalik went to Turkey Point on a Girl Scout campout for the weekend. Turkey Point is a wildlife refuge located near the East Coast in South Florida somewhere between Miami and Homestead. At that time there were camps for scouts there, cabins, hiking paths. She belonged to Troop 445 comprised of girls from St. Brendan's, her elementary school. For the first twenty-four hours Mrs. Gendernalik had a pretty uneventful, typical time. She and her troop mates swam, got bit by sand fleas, regular boring camping stuff. But then all that was about to change through a simple hike with another Girl Scout that Saturday afternoon. The troop leaders announced the girls could go off in pairs to explore the area. So Mrs. Gendernalik and this other girl went down the main dirt road. The two girls understood their exploring perimeters and would stay within them.
After a little bit, they stumbled upon a small path off to the side in the woods. They decided to explore it. Fifty or so feet later it let out to a circular clearing about hundred feet in diameter.
Right nearby, all by itself in this clearing, stood a large impressive tree like a great pine, almost as if planted there for a significant reason. Letting their imaginations run, they talked to one another how the tree seemed just the spot for all the animals in the forest to encircle to pray. Then they noticed at the far end from them, a Seminole-type hutch with only a roof and a back wall. As they approached they saw it was a shrine, with a statue of the Virgin Mary hanging on the upper center of its back wall. They stopped before it, and began to speculate aloud to one another who had built it there.
Suddenly from their left, a life-size, holographic-like lady appeared out of the forest, only fifteen feet away. She was dressed in clothes similar to the statue, a white shawl on her head, with a light blue open robe over a white gown. Floating in the air about two feet high, she swiftly passed directly in front of the two girls, and then disappeared into a tree on the other side to their right! Startled, they ran out of there, their hearts racing like rapid Morse code signals.
When they were safe out on the main dirt road, they were able to stop and reflect what had just happened. It seemed Mrs. Gendernalik and the other girl scout had jointly seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary! The apparition hadn't said anything, it only zipped in front of them, clear and long enough for them to see it, and then vanished.
Amazed, they ran to the camp to tell their troop leaders. But to the girls' surprise, the leaders did not want to hear about it. They acted mad at them for telling them, as if they thought the girls were fibbing, or they simply could not believe such a tale. This angry attitude caught both girls by surprise for they all were Catholics in that group, and both Mrs. Gendernalik and the girl had both learned previously in school how everyone considered it an exciting event to see Mary's apparition. But apparently that only applied to sightings in the past, not the here and now where those sort of things supposedly don't happen anymore. Even though it was a relatively short sighting of Mary's apparition, it's been one of the fondest memories of Mrs. Gendernalik's life at having had such a rare experience.