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A Community Camp

On Saturday, April 5th, we were joined by the Penn State Quidditch Team, neighbors, and other volunteers to start getting the camp ready for summer. We cleaned out all the cabins in the outer units and checked them for damage. We also removed several dead trees, cleared the Red Trail, fixed broken doors, and started work on cleaning out the Craft House so that groups can use it this summer.

We will be showing off all our hard work at an open house on May 11th and hope to see all our Friends, neighbors, and community members there.

We will need to return to the camp in the coming weeks to fix a number of broken screens on the cabins and would love your help with this task. We may additionally need help removing the graffiti in Wald 2 before youth groups start using that cabin. As a result of our inspections, we found a number of light bulbs, smoke detectors, brooms, and mattresses that need replacing. We also identified a number of areas that need erosion control and other environmental work done. We would love to see some creative or artistic usage of our downed trees. Individuals looking to help us with any of these things can contact us for specifics. You can also check out a more comprehensive list of short and long term needs here.

While we are happy to announce that we are currently funded into September, we still need a great deal of community support to secure our camp. Our community built this camp in the 1980’s. Again, in the late 1990’s our community once again came together to invest $2.8 million into the camp. Today, that investment would be the equivalent of over $4 million. Today, we need but a fraction of that amount to secure the camp for our future.

Camp Golden Pond represents thirty years and millions of dollars of community money. The camp was not built using corporate profits or investor dollars, but through the love and dedication of our community. Friends of Golden Pond is committed to honoring that legacy, but we need your help once again. This camp is your camp. You paid for it. You built it. It is open for your use.

Right now, if we want to secure this property for you, we need operating cash. We also need generous individuals to help us convert our lease to a purchase so that every dollar we raise can stay in this community. We have been in talks with a bank that would be willing to finance us, if we were able to make our down payment and find someone who is willing to guarantee the loan. If you or someone you know can help us with this, we would love to talk to you.

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A Busy Weekend

This was a busy weekend at camp with several first aid courses and wildlife encounters. This coming weekend is going to be another busy weekend at camp with Camp Clean Up and then Painting with Jackie.

The leadership for Scouts, BSA Troop 31 spent the weekend camping in Palmer Lodge with Joan to refresh their Wilderness First Aid skills. While they were there, they got to watch an osprey fishing in the lake. The osprey then took his fish to a tree where he spent the afternoon likely waiting for his mate.

On Sunday, Joan then taught a basic First Aid / CPR / AED course to another group of adults. As fun as this past weekend was, we have more activities planned for next weekend and hope to see you at camp!

On April 6th we will be out at camp getting ready for summer. If you would like to join us, please pack a water bottle, a lunch, and come ready to tackle dirt, clogged gutters, and fallen trees.

A tree has fallen across the Red (lake) trail and will need to be cleared. Additionally, we will be opening up the outer units, cleaning them out, and getting them ready for use. We will also need to scrub down the bunk room in lower Palmer so that it be used for rentals. If we have enough volunteers and time, we will clean out the craft house.

Check out the full list of tasks we plan to tackle and let us know to expect you so we can start the day off organized. Leaf blowers are super handy for cleaning the dirt, dust, and leaves out of buildings. While, we will have some supplies on hand, we can probably use more so we can get things done quickly.

On Sunday, April 7th, we will then join local artist Jackie Gianico to paint Lake Louise. Jackie will walk us through the process of creating our very own landscape. All materials will be provided and all skill levels are welcome. You must register in advance so that we can ensure we have enough materials on hand.

On Sunday, April 14th, our capital campaign committee will be meeting in Legacy Lodge to plan fund raising and promotional activities for the summer. We hope that you will be able to join us and help us fund our camp.

We are then planning on holding an open house on May 11th. We plan to put the canoes out on the lake, set up the archery range, and even make s’mores.

If you are thinking of reserving the camp for your family or scouting event, please contact us. We already have a Scouts, BSA troop event scheduled for April, two Girl Scout Service Unit camps in June, another Girl Scout Service Unit camp in July, three Girl Scout Service Unit camporees scheduled for September, and another Girl Scout campout scheduled for November.

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Upcoming Events

Now that we have regained access to the camp, Friends of Golden Pond has several events lined up over the coming weeks to help us get back to camp.

On March 31st, Joan will be running a First Aid and CPR course.

On April 6th, we will have a spring clean up day.

On April 7th, we will Paint with Jackie in Legacy Lodge so that you can create your very own painting of Lake Louise.

We hope to see you soon!

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Officially Tax-Exempt

On March 8th, 2019, Friends of Golden Pond received our official determination letter from the IRS declaring us except from federal income taxes under IRS section 501c3 effective April 11, 2018. This determination declares us to be a public charity and makes all contributions made to Friends of Golden Pond since our incorporation potentially eligible for federal tax deductions.

We would like to extend a big thank you to the office of the 12th congressional district of PA for their assistance with this matter.

We are currently negotiating with a bank to secure financing in order to allow us to execute our option to purchase Camp Golden Pond. The bank is looking for a down payment on the order of $120,000 as well as personal guarantees to back the loan. If you would like more information on this process, please email me at megan@friendsofgoldenpond.org.

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CPR Training

On March 31st, Joan will be offering another First AID certification course. The YMCA (and other organizations) offers Red Cross first aid training at $100 or more per person. As a small, volunteer run non-profit funded through public support, we are able to offer this training at only $50 per person. Our goal is to keep this price point low as we roll out a training schedule that will end the scramble to renew we currently see among our Girl Scout and other volunteers. We will not be able to do this without your support.

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA does NOT provide first aid training to their volunteers. Instead, the troop leaders must find their own training center and pay either out of pocket or using troop funds for their certifications. If they are unable to get certified or maintain their certification, their troop loses the ability to go camping. Service Unit camporees have been popular simply because many of the area troops lack the first aider required to go troop camping.

Is CPR training worth it? According to the American Heart Association, nearly 45% of out of hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when administered CPR by a bystander. CPR is a skill that saves lives. It is a skill that needs to be taught. It is a skill that the adult volunteers who care for our children need to be able to afford.

$100 may not seem like a lot to spend on life saving training. But the volunteers who lead our scout groups already give a great deal of their time and money to our children. Do we really want the volunteers who take care of our children to hesitate when it comes to becoming CPR and first aid certified? Do we want only the minimum number of first aid certified volunteers? Or do we want every adult possible to be trained and certified?

CPR certified people save lives. They save the lives of strangers. They save the lives of friends and family members. CPR training should be available to any adult who is willing to take the course. We should not be staring at a $100 price point and deciding that lives are not worth the cost.

If you support Friends of Golden Pond, you support our ability to offer life saving training at a price point that the volunteers who already give so much to our communities can afford.

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Ours Again

On Feb 16th, 2019, Friends of Golden Pond signed a lease for 55 acres of Camp Golden Pond. This area includes the core of the camp – all of the established camp sites, the ranger house, the sand mound, and a nice buffer. This lease means that on March 1st we can begin accepting rental reservations. Youth and other groups can now request a reservation using this form. I cannot thank our growing list of benefactors enough. It is your faith and generosity that allows us to bring our scouts back to camp.

Camp Golden Pond is ours again. If we can keep it.

Our lease is $3800 a month and includes an option to purchase the 55 core acres for $600,000.

As of today, we can pay our rent through July, 2019. We need your help to get us to August.

On March 1st, we will become responsible for the gas. The electric. Insurance. Maintenance. The beam in the craft house is cracked and fixing it will cost $10,000. Lower Palmer needs drywall, baseboards, and kitchen counters before we can re-open it to rentals. We need to have a locksmith change and fix all the locks – many of them no longer have keys. The archery targets were left outside all last year and need replaced…

We also need volunteers willing to clean gutters, bridges, and trails.

The task ahead of us is not easy. But a year ago, our camp was lost and we had no obvious path to getting it back. A year ago, we were told that we did not want our camp. A year ago, Sharon Bloom, Ann Dunlavy, Joan Geleskie, Tim Swan, and I sat in a room and decided that losing our camp was unacceptable.

Today, we need you to listen to the stories of young women like Pix and Danae. Help us to show these women what it means to face a challenge and overcome it. Help us to show them what it looks like when a community comes together so that when they grow up they will look upon the challenges life will throw at them and know that impossible things just take a little bit of time and a lot of work.

Become a Friend or donate to our Go Fund Me.

Because, today, Camp Golden Pond is ours to lose. If you do nothing, we will miss our rent payments and we will lose our camp for good.

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Our Camp

As we work with Mr. Sabella to forge a path for our girls to get back to camp, we have to ask ourselves, “what is our camp?” and “why is it ours?.” Camp Golden Pond belonged to Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA because Hemlock Girl Scout Council built it. For Camp Golden Pond to come back to us, we must earn it. No one is going to give us a whole camp. We must, instead, buy our camp back one dollar at a time. $5 here, $20 there, $100 over there, and before you know it, our camp will be ours again.

While our final capital goal is much more, $50,000 will pay a lease on the property for a full year. Just $50,000 and we are already over half way to that milestone!

This lease will give us unrestricted access so that we can ensure that nature does not reclaim the property. It will let us open the camp to rentals. It will let us plan and execute outdoor programs on the property. But most importantly, it will also prevent the camp from being sold piecemeal while we raise capital for our final purchase.

A lease will do all that and it will do it today. A purchase requires a surveyor, a bank loan, an appraisal, and more. That is time that our camp does not have. It is time that our girls do not have.

We cannot tell you enough – now is the time that we need you. Now is the time that we must fund our camp. If we want to keep our camp whole, we need you. Mr. Sabella is not going to wait for “one day” or “perhaps” or “maybe”. He wants us to tell him “yes, we want our camp and we want it today.” He has lost track of the number of people who have called him to ask about carving off 5 acres here or 10 acres there. If we cannot move forward, our camp will be carved into pieces and lost forever.

Schreyer. Palmer. Walker. Wald. These are the names that are inscribed throughout our camp. These are the names that gave our camp its first thirty wonderful years. Now, we need new names to give our camp new life. Hemlock Council gifted us with an incredible Legacy. We must honor it. We cannot let Louise Walker’s dream die.

Joan, Ann, Sharon and I are counting on you. We have taken that leap of faith. Nancy L. Habig, Maxine Brunner, and others are all taking that leap of faith with us. Now we need you to catch us.

Become a Friend or make a pledge.

No amount is too small. Tomorrow will be too late.

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A New Year and a New Beginning

For the past 30 years, Camp Golden Pond has been a Girl Scout Camp. However, this year our camp welcomed the New Year as a privately owned property. On December 14, 2018, John Sabella purchased Camp Golden Pond from GSHPA for $885,000 and opened a world of possibilities.

On January 5, 2019, the board of directors of Friends of Golden Pond met with Mr. Sabella to discuss a preliminary plan to purchase the property. Mr. Sabella was very sympathetic towards our mission and informed us that he would be interested in our completing a purchase of the property from him as quickly as possible.

While we work to finalize negotiations, we have been granted limited access to the property for our meetings and fundraisers. We hope to see all our supporters join us for a reception in Legacy Lodge on February 24. We will be giving tours of the property starting at 2:00 PM with a reception in the lodge at 3:00 PM. We will share with you our plans and progress as well as be able to answer any questions you may have about our camp’s future.

We cannot stress how important it is that you show your support for our efforts in anyway you can. Our camp will only be saved through the generous donations of individuals like you. While we have made great progress toward re-opening our camp, we aren’t there yet. Mr. Sabella has opened a door for us, but it is up to us to walk through it. We must decide that our camp is worth saving. You must decide that our camp is worth saving.

Write letters to your newspaper. Share you stories and hopes with us. Call a radio or a news station.

Buy a t-shirt and wear it everywhere you go.

Make a contribution to our Go Fund Me or pledge a contribution to our capital campaign.

Get involved.

We cannot let our camp sit empty for one day longer than absolutely necessary. With your help, our girls will be racing canoes across Lake Louise this summer.

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The Case For Camp

Why do we want our girls at camp? Why do we want to make it easy for our girls to get to camp?

I recently had the pleasure of helping a pair of Girl Scout Cadettes send a weather balloon to near space. Launching a weather balloon (and then retrieving it) is no simple task. It requires several hundred dollars of electronics for the tracking hardware, more money to buy the balloon, and even more money to buy the helium. It requires HAM radio licenses. It requires coordinating with the FAA. And then… after all that… you let it go, the wind takes it, and you may never see it again. The telemetry board might fail. It might land in a lake and sink. A lot can go wrong.

When we first asked the Cadettes if they were interested in launching a balloon, they had this look on their face that said “why on earth would we do that?”. For science. Not interested. For space photos. Not interested. It might end up stuck in a tree on top of a mountain five miles from the nearest road. Oh?

Suddenly they were excited. Where would the balloon take them? How would they get it out of the tree? How would they find the balloon when it was on the ground? The GPS would only get them so close…

In our push for getting our girls into STEM we often forget that STEM is not just programming computers, doing math, and building things. STEM is about exploration. At its core, STEM is about adventure. It is about challenging the world around us and making impossible things possible. It is about solving problems.

These girls weren’t interested in doing things simply because they can. “For science” didn’t do it. But the adventure! The chase! Setting off an adventure and not knowing where it would take them…

Not knowing if you will succeed but trying anyway… that is is the heart of what it means to be Courageous and Strong. Life is never certain. Life will challenge us and life will make us uncomfortable. In order to grow, we have to embrace our self doubts. We have to accept the challenge. The chase. The adventure. The uncertainty.

Try something new. Fail. A lot. These are at the heart of what it means to be an engineer or scientist. But we try anyway. Because there is a chance that we will change the world.

Camp teaches all that and more.

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Without Golden Pond

What happens without Camp Golden Pond? Where do our girls go to camp? Do they go to camp?

Every year for as long as I have been involved with Service Unit 416, they have hosted a Fall Camporee in conjunction with Service Unit 422. This year is no different. Service Unit 416 started their search for a new fall camp location almost as soon as Camp Golden Pond’s closure was announced. They settled on Camp Anderson and decided that this year Fall Camp would have a Pioneer Theme to symbolize the journey they have started. They put the date on the calendar and opened registration and waited to see who would come. Camp Anderson will be tent camping. No cabins, no lodges, no kitchen facilities at the camp sites. Of course there will be outhouses!

Camp Anderson is by no means primitive. It has chlorinated water. It has a bath house with flush toilets in a central location. The outhouses near the sites are well maintained.

When we toured the site with several of our older girls, they immediately fell in love with the creek, the bridges, and whimsical rhododendrons. They loved the secluded, natural feel of the camp sites. They can’t wait to try their hands at the rifle range.

But these were Cadettes and Seniors who had spent their entire Girl Scout life camping. Marg started her Girl Scout career as a Daisy at Camp Golden Pond. The other girls have practically lived at camp with their mother. These girls spend every possible weekend that they can camping.

Registration for fall camp opened slowly. When it closed we were left looking at numbers that show an almost 30% drop in attendance for an event that has sold out every year I have been involved with Service Unit 416.

201620172018
Daisy (K-1)1982
Brownie (2-3)204429
Junior (4-5)504531
CSA (6-12)252223
Total Girls11411985

Even more significant than the overall drop in attendance, the drop is concentrated entirely among the elementary aged girls. These are the girls who would start out in a lodge or a cabin, often with their mothers staying overnight with them. These are the girls we would teach that snakes are not to be feared and bugs are part of life.

We can try to blame the date. It conflicts with a Cub Scout Camp. But we have conflicted with Cub Scout and Boy Scout events before with no significant drop in numbers. We have even sold out a Spring Camp scheduled on Blue and White Weekend. The fact is, Service Unit 416 has over 400 girls to draw from.

Camp Anderson will be a fantastic camp for our older girls who already love camping. But what about the younger girls and the new troop leaders? The girls who do not have tents and are scared of bears? The girls whose parents lack the camping traditions?

Camp Golden Pond provided a safe, inviting experience to these girls. It let them go to camp and sleep in a structure with walls. It let them explore the woods without giving up flush toilets, running water, and refrigeration.

I was a Venturing Scout who loved camping and we did a lot of camping in state parks. The first thing we did when we got to a campground was send two scouts to spray the outhouse down with a can of Lysol and wasp spray. We will definitely be packing the Lysol and the wasp spray for the Camp Anderson outhouses and we will have a great time. We might even convince some of the doubters that tents are better than cabins.

But what happens to the rest of our elementary-aged girls? The ones who said tents and outhouses were too much and the distance too far? If these girls never take that first camping trip, how can they grow up to be the older girls running camp?

Camp Anderson is an amazing place that has a lot to offer our girls. But that only matters if we can convince them to show up. Camp Golden Pond was special because it provided a stepping stone for younger girls who had never spent a night away from home. All Camp Golden Pond asked of them was one little step. At Camp Anderson, that step has gotten a little bigger. A little farther. A little more rustic. The more that first step asks of our girls, the more they will say no.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”


Baba Dioum, 1968.