“Can we do this?”
“Can we find 1.7 million dollars?”
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.
President, Friends of Golden Pond