On July 28th, 2018, Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA officially closed Camp Golden Pond. The last arrows were shot. The last fish were caught. The last canoes raced across the lake. The last campfire was built and the last s’more was eaten. After thirty years, the last songs were sung and the last flag was lowered.
The Western Region of Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA comprises 7% of GSHPA’s 17,000 membership. That’s over 1000 girls who have just lost their camp. These are the girls who live in Huntingdon, Centre, Miflin, Juniata, and Clinton counties. But it is not just these girls who have lost their camp. Girl Scouts from the Altoona and Tyrone areas relied on Camp Golden Pond. Cub Scout packs and other organizations have relied on Camp Golden Pond. Eagle Scout projects have improved the property and couples have been married in Legacy Lodge.
Camp Golden Pond has spent the past thirty years as a community resource.
The annual report from Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA lists the operating cost of Camp Golden Pond at $90,000 per year. Their reports list $11,612 for utilities, $10,919 for insurance, and $45,710 for maintenance. That means that sending a girl to camp costs less than $100 per year. $8 per month. That’s it!
Are our girls worth $8 per month? We think so and we hope you do to. Friends of Golden Pond is committed to reopening Camp Golden Pond so that our area girls can continue to have affordable camp experiences, but we can’t do it without you.
We are now officially launching our capital campaign. We are seeking to raise $446,860 in order to acquire Camp Golden Pond. This sum will allow us to finance the initial acquisition of the camp. In order to support us, you can donate via our by check. If you would like to join our Capital Campaign Committee or find our how to help, please contact us.
Camp Golden Pond is more than a piece of land. It is more than cabins and beds were we can sleep. It is more than hiking trails and a lake and an archery range. It is where we have spent the past thirty years growing up. It is the place where we put our kindergarten daughters in their first canoe and teach them that the bugs and critters are nothing to be afraid of. And then, almost a decade later, we watch those tiny, tiny girls leading camp.
Camp is where our leaders can go to form lifelong bonds of friendships with women they had never met before.
Camp is where we learn how to make do with what we have. It is where we learn that its ok to make mistakes and sometimes things don’t quite work the way we wanted. And we learn how to overcome these challenges.
Camp is where our girls find the sisters they never knew they had.
Our girls have always assumed they would be attending camp at Camp Golden Pond their entire lives. Our Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors have always assumed that one day, when they are old enough, they will be the big girls taking the new Daisies on their first Fairy Hike around the lake.
Our older girls have always known that one day they would have their “last” camporee. But that last camporee was supposed to be the camporee before they went off to college and became adults.
The closing of Camp Golden Pond has broken the hearts and crushed the dreams of countless girls.
Together, we can revive all those hopes and dreams.
If we do nothing, the camp will die. The woods will reclaim the trails and the buildings and silence will settle on the lake. But if we work together, we can ensure that the laughter of Girl Scouts continues to fill the woods of Camp Golden Pond.
Your donation will allow us to acquire the property, make needed repairs, and help get our girls back at Camp Golden Pond. But time is not on our side. With every day, our girls are growing up and the property is slipping further into decay. We need your help and we need your help today.
Thank you to everyone who made it out to our community meeting. Camp Golden Pond is a valuable resource that was gifted to us through the hard work of the Girl Scouts who came before us. We will not be the generation that loses it.
We need your help.
We need you to write letters to your newspapers and your TV stations. We need you to tell your friends and neighbors. We need our communities talking about Camp Golden Pond.
Those are types of questions people keep asking me.
The question should be “Do you want this?”
Do our girls want to go camping? Do our girls want to canoe? Do our girls want to do archery? To fish? To go on a nighttime hike around the lake? Sleep in a cabin? Sleep in a tent? Learn how to extract a snake from a tent? Build a fire? Tie knots? Tow a pair of younger girls back to shore? Put the flag up and take it down?
To save our camp, there are many paths we can follow. One of them involves finding 1.7 million dollars. Another involves entering into a maintenance contract with GSHPA. Another involves leasing it.
If we want this… If we are willing to put the work in…. We can get our girls back in our camp.
GSHPA is selling the camp because they do not believe that we want it. They gave us usage statistics that show the camp is only occupied 15% of the time. We have been asking the service units how many girls the camp serves. In 2017 service units 414, 416, 422, 431, and 221 offered 9 service unit camping events and hosted 664 campers. In 2018, these service units have already hosted 7 camps. Three more camps are scheduled for the month of June, and an 11th camp would traditionally be offered in the fall. Were the 2018 camp season to continue at Camp Golden Pond, we would expect the service units to host over 900 campers.
The service unit camping records show camp demand is increasing. Service Unit 416 added two additional winter camps for 2018. Notably, these winter camps were planned BEFORE the camp closure was announced. A number of the camps offered were limited by camp capacity, not demand.
GSHPA told us in the long range property planning report that Camp Golden Pond costs $90,000 per year to operate. At 900 campers, that is $100 per camper. Are our girls worth $100?
$100 is 154 boxes of cookies.
And that $100 per girl starts getting even smaller if we include the troops and service units who used the camp that we did not collect participation numbers for. In 2016 (the last year that GSHPA gave us numbers for), Palmer lodge was rented for 40 days by troops. If each of those rentals was a weekend, that is 20 weekends of Girl Scouts camping.
GSHPA told us that our girls can camp at Small Valley. Service unit 221 drives past Camp Small Valley to get to Camp Golden Pond. Camp Small Valley is booked for council programs and the council programs are full. Mini-camp at Camp Small Valley costs $200 per girl. Our Service Units can run a weekend camp for as little as $20 per girl. Our girls can’t camp at Small Valley.
GSHPA told us they are selling the camp because they cannot afford to fix the deficiencies. For the most part, there is nothing wrong with the camp that we could not take care of over a series of volunteer work weekends. Even the crack in the wall in the craft house can be fixed for less than $10,000.
So do our girls want to camp? Will you help us paint buildings and trim shrubs? If the answer to those questions is yes, then we do not need $1.7 million dollars.
Right now we need you to tell us that you want our girls camping at Camp Golden Pond next summer.
Right now we need $600 to file our tax-exempt application with the IRS.
And then we will need $446,860. If we lease the property, that amount will let us make all the corrections GSHPA has identified. If we need to purchase the property, that amount will let us make a down payment.
We will be having a community meeting at the State College High School on June 6th from 7-9PM. At this meeting we will explain our plan to success and we will gauge how much community support we have. If you want our girls to be camping next summer, we need you to show up. Even if all you do is tell us that you want our girls to go camping.
My daughter has many smiles, but a special one that exudes adventure, joy, and a free spirit happens at Camp Golden Pond. When I see that smile it makes me want to know more about the place that causes it. Unexpectedly, what started as research into a camp about to be sold became the story of a thousand smiles across thirty years with a legacy stretching back decades more. It’s about the smiles that were remembered from days gone by at Camp Barree from 1938-1983. It’s about the smiles that broke the earth at Camp Golden Pond in 1987 and dedicated Lake Louise in 1988. More than that, it’s about the smiles that won’t happen if the camp closes. Camp Golden Pond is advertised as “Camp Golden Pond where girls always find their shine!”
This summer smiles that have lit up the faces of our local Girl Scouts for thirty years, with a legacy of half a century more, may cease shining at Golden Pond. Hopefully, they won’t. Even so, their story deserves to be told.
Huntingdon Daily News, May 7, 1987
The first shining smile I saw was in a newspaper photo of a Girl Scout atop a bulldozer (Huntingdon Daily News, May, 7 1987). The ground for Golden Pond was broken by the girls. It was not broken by the ceremonial shovel toss of someone in a suit. It was not broken by the workers. The ground was broken, just like the camp would be maintained and improved, by the girls. It’s fitting that Hemlock Council did it this way. After all, so many trails, facilities, repairs, and improvements were done by the small hands that love Golden Pond in pursuit of bronze and silver awards, and a place where the gold award ceremony was held.
But as I looked at the first article I found, and assumed it was my starting point, I discovered I was wrong. I was off by about fifty years. Small hands don’t stay small. Small smiles don’t stay small. Small dreams don’t stay small. And the article, and others, made it clear that Camp Golden Pond was born out of the love and dreams fostered at Camp Barree. And it was the now grown, strong, and capable hands of the women forged by their experiences at Camp Barree that made sure the ground for Camp Golden Pond would be broken.
Huntingdon Daily News, June 29, 1984
Camp Barree was the first Girl Scout Camp that served Huntingdon and Centre area girls. It opened on July 10, 1938. The camp was on state land and as the state expanded the park system, Camp Barree was closed around 1983 when negotiations between the state and Hemlock Council broke down. The Council owned the buildings and the state owned the land. And in the end, Camp Barree was gone. No matter how hard the Girl Scouts fought, it was gone. But that only energized Hemlock Council and the former scouts who would not let camping and outdoor experiences be only a memory and removed from the area. Prominent families like Walker, Palmer, and Wald teamed with the entire community, and would not rest until the local scouts had a camp. And four years, thousands of hours of work, and a massive fundraising campaign of 2.9 million dollars later, comes the picture of a smiling girl on a bulldozer.
Camp Golden Pond was envisioned and promised to serve for girls for generations, not just one and a half (Clearfield Progress June 12, 1988). At the dedication of Lake Louise, beautiful words were spoken by Alan Walker to his mother Louise:
“It is a gift given to honor the past with something to be used in the
present and the future. We can never repay all you have done for us and the thousands of sacrifices you made for your family over the years. But this gift is a very small way of saying thanks for being one very, very special mother”
But it was not just the Walkers. The Palmers supplied Palmer Lodge and a substantial donation for the land. Phyllis Henry provided major support in the memory of her sister Solveig Horn, and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Wald (Clearfield Progress June 12, 1988).
The connecting thread in all of this, from prominent families to fundraising brownies was a love of scouting. The families mentioned and thousands of supporters who are nameless gave so many hours to both Boy and Girl Scouts. They gave their love, time, money, and effort to make sure the dream of a local Girl Scout camp did not die. And at the dedication, the head of Hemlock Council said: “We’re beginning to see our dreams become a reality.” Through the efforts of council and community together, that dream was realized.
Huntingdon Daily News, July 20, 1995
I slowly moved through decades, mostly thanks to The Daily News out of Huntingdon, PA. There were Girls at a sheep dog trial (Daily News, April 25, 1994). There were girls at the hug a tree event (Daily News, July 20, 1995). The “Every Girl Matters” campaign in the late 1990’s to 2000 that raised 3 million dollars (Daily News, October 31,2000). There was the large celebration at the dedication of the Schreyer Great Hall in May of 2000. That article title now has a ring of sadness: “Golden Days Ahead At Girl Scout Camp” (Daily News, May 20, 2000). And even as late as 2011 there was the five year plan ending in 2016 that intended to use some of the money raised to add cross country skiing to Camp Golden Pond (The York Dispatch Dec 11, 2011). So much has changed in two years.
This summer the smiles might end for the girls in our area and our local residential camp. Thirty years ago Hemlock Council teamed with all those formed by the love, smiles, joy, and adventure of Camp Barree to build Camp Golden Pond for the generations to come. Little hands grown strong, little dreams grown big, and little girls grown into relentless women joined with their families and council to build a new camp when their old one was taken away from them.
But this time, there will be no new camp with the ground broken by the girls and then maintained and improved by their love and dedication marked in bronze, silver, and gold. The only hope to preserve Camp Golden Pond for the generations it promised to serve is for the families and community to come together to buy it for the girls from Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. The smiles of the past wait to see if they will fade away without a place to anchor them in memory. The smiles of the future wait to see if they will be allowed to shine in our area.
We will be holding a board meeting on May 23rd at 7PM in the Forum Room of the Centre Region Council of Governments building (2643 Gateway Dr, State College, PA).
We will discuss important corporate items such as our application for tax-exempt status and launching our capital campaign to raise the funds needed to save our camp. If you are interested in getting involved, have questions for us, or just want to show your support, we would love to see you.
Thank you for your interest in helping Friends of Golden Pond!
Our mission is to promote leadership and youth development through safe, affordable camp experiences that will allow both youth and adults to develop confidence, courage, and an appreciation for the outdoors. We believe that Camp Golden Pond fulfills a integral part of that mission and we seek to continue its usage by area Girl Scouts. We believe that losing Camp Golden Pond as a resource will result in a significant number of our girls not being able to have the camp experience they deserve and we believe that the traditions and legacies of the property are worth saving.
It is individuals like you that will make this possible. It is time for us to stop asking “who will save our camp?” and say “I will save our camp.”
Before we can begin fund raising we need to accomplish two things:
File a 1023 or 1023EZ form with the IRS in order to request tax exempt status.
Register with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations
Right now, what we need most from our Friends:
Help navigating the IRS and PA Bureau of Charitable Organizations paperwork
Members interested in establishing a Fundraising Committee (listed price of the camp is $1.7M!!!)
Additionally, if you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, we want to hear from you.
We will not succeed without you. We need our communities to share our vision and agree that our camp is worth keeping. We need you to share your camp stories. We need you to tell your friends and your neighbors why our camp is worth keeping.
President, Friends of Golden Pond
On April 6th, Megan Roberts, Melanie Robison, and Sharon Bloom signed the Articles of Incorporation for Friends of Golden Pond. We intend to file for tax-exempt status with both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the IRS as soon as the department of state processes our incorporation papers. If you would like to help Friends of Golden Pond in its effort to save this camp, contact us at email@example.com or signup for our mailing list. After our paperwork is processed, our next step will be to begin our capital campaign.
You can learn more about our Board of Directors here.
On March 25th, Megan Roberts, Melanie Robison, Sharon Bloom, Joan Geleskie, and Patricia Ann Dunlavy met in order to form a 501c3 corporation with the purpose of acquiring Camp Golden Pond.
We aim to promote leadership and youth development through safe, affordable camp experiences that will allow both youth and adults to develop confidence, courage, and an appreciation for the outdoors.
Our board now consists of:
President Megan Roberts
Secretary Melanie Robison
Treasurer Sharon Bloom
Patricia Ann Dunlavy
Joan V Geleskie
The board will be meeting again on April 6th in order to review our articles of incorporation and bylaws before filing. If you were unable to attend the initial meeting, but are interested in joining the board, please contact us for details on the April 6th meeting. Even if you do not have the time to serve on the board, we will need a lot of help with our initial capital funds drive.
We will be meeting at Lincoln Caverns in the side room on March 25th at 10AM in order to form a 501c3 entity with the purpose of purchasing Camp Golden Pond for use in promoting the outdoors to youth and adults.
The objectives of this meeting will be to establish a board and craft a mission statement. If you are unable to attend this meeting and are committed to serving on the board, please let us know.
It is our belief that time spent in the outdoors is critical to the formation of our youth. Purchasing Camp Golden Pond will allow us to continue the mission of promoting leadership and youth development through safe, affordable camp experiences that will allow both youth and adults to develop confidence, courage, and an appreciation for the outdoors.
“A week at camp is worth a year in the boardroom.” – Lord Baden Powell, Founder of Scouting