Danae

Golden Pond is not only a place in the middle of the woods, it is the only camp that I have known. It is a place where I found more about myself. It lead me to being a great friend and a great leader. Being able to go to Golden Pond ever since I was young has been life changing for me. I used to go to camp with my mom and sister before I was actually old enough to go and I was referred to as the mascot.

When I was about eight years old, and old friend rewarded me on the dock by the pond with a time capsule. It was full of Girl Scout memories from that time. We did this because it was the hundredth year birthday of Girl Scouts. I got the time capsule because I was the youngest girl at camp. She told me that it was my job to hide it and make sure nothing happened to it.

When I became older, I was already excited to go to camp and learn things on my own. I’ve made lots of new friends, many good memories, and learned many, many, many new things. The very first camp I remember attending as an actual camper, I slept out in Wald by the mushroom cabin and I met my best friend. We wanted to do everything together – from being canoeing buddies, to being sleeping buddies at another camp we attended.

With her help, and other girls help, I have learned how to canoe, shoot a bow, make and start a fire, basic survival skills, and how to be a leader. By helping to save this camp, it is not only giving me more of a chance to learn new things, but it’s giving the generations to come a chance to learn.

I am hoping that when I grow up, I have a chance to bring girls back to this beautiful place so that they can make memories of their own and I can add to my memories. This camp is such a big part of my life. It’s made me who I am today.

Jane


I was the director of the Camp Golden Pond for the Hemlock Council for a week in the early 1990s.

As director, I implemented an ‘eastern newt project’ to teach the campers the wonder, respect, and stewardship for the wildlife and natural environment. The girls learned about the life cycle of the eastern newt at the onset of the camp-week. Then, armed with a notebook and pen, they recorded the number of newts they observed throughout the week as well as the color of the newts and the newts’ locations (land or water). They were not to collect the newts. At the end of the week, the units presented their notes, we pooled the data, and discussed our findings. Also, I hoped that our program would promote the end of campers’ harvesting buckets of newts, a practice that I had observed previously at the camp.

We then held a sleep-over on a grassy hill out under the stars. Most of the girls had never sleep outside before. There was some resistance to the idea. “Boy Scouts do that, not Girl Scouts!” It was a growth experience for those who wished to try it. The early evening program included an amateur astronomer with his telescope as well as a campfire, cookout, and S’mores. As we stargazed I could hear girls in their sleeping bags oohing at the shooting stars. One large “star” blazed across 1/4 of sky’s expanse. The few girls uncomfortable with too much adventure transferred their sleeping bags to the lodge for the night. The next day, the number of stars was a major topic of conversation for everyone, and the outdoor-girls were proud their braving the night in the wilds. 

The camp’s caretaker at the time was a kind and wonderful man named “Russ.” I started a “tradition” at the start of the week that whenever the girls spied Russ, they would stop whatever they were doing, face Russ, give him a sweeping group-wave, and yell “Hi, Russ!” Russ surprised me by looking me up at the end of the week and thanking me. He said how much he enjoyed the “tradition,” that no one had ever done anything like that before, and that it made him feel very much appreciated. Sweet.

I also taught the girls the “we’re a little bit crazy-walk” to use as they trekked between locations. You could see and hear groups of girls chanting and crazy-walking every which way all over the camp all day.

It was a fantastic week that still makes me smile. I hope the girls have great memories of that week, too, and that the experiences had a lasting positive impact on their development into well-rounded young women.

Pix

This camp and the experiences that I have had here, have shaped my life in such profound ways. I sometimes wonder if my love for boating or my ability to even make friends would exist without this place. Without Golden Pond.

Camp Golden Pond is this beautiful place where your victories are celebrated forever and your mistakes there are memorialized, but in a different way. They’re remembered as moments of learning and inside jokes. Like the time I dropped my bandanna in the lake. We couldn’t get it out forever, until a counselor helped us to figure out that we could use the other end of the paddle. Once we saved the bandanna, we couldn’t stop laughing.

I’ve had countless valuable and memorable experiences here and Wald and the mushroom cabin… That’s where I met my best friend Danae. On the lake, that’s where I paddled a canoe for the first time. I’ve learned how to step up and be a leader because of this camp. So when I say Camp Golden Pond isn’t just a camp – it’s a home to me, don’t take this off as just another cliche. I genuinely mean it.

All kids deserve a chance to feel the way I do about this camp. If you can help by donating so we can continue to have these memories and these experiences, it would mean a lot to me – to all of us. It’s important to me to save Camp Golden Pond, not just for me, but for all of the youth to come.

I hope one day, I can come back as an adult and teach a child to use the other end of the paddle.

Hailey

I only ever went to this camp three times but in those three times I was here, it’s touched my heart to see so many young girls like me get along and make new friends for life. I was there the last weekend it was open to us and we saw quite a lot of tears, not just from us older scouts and the leaders, but the younger girls as well. Even if it was their first and last time at that camp you could see it sparked something in those little girls that wasn’t there before and I really do hope that this wonderful camp is soon to be back to us because we all miss it.

Lily

I love Camp Golden Pond! There is canoeing, fishing, hiking, and my very favorite is cooking on the campfire. The last time we cooked brownies, but that was the last time…

Christine

As a leader I have been to Camporees at least a dozen times with the girls in my Troops. I’ve watched them grow up from little girls to young women over the last five years. My own daughters feel like Golden Pond is a second home to them. It belongs to them. It is a part of them. It is a part of me.

Places hold memories. Golden Pond holds the memories of friendships created over s’mores, laughter, fires, and songs. It is so much more than a place. It is where I find myself again and again. It is fairy walks and geese on the lake. It is golden sunrises and frogs at night. It is flashlight tag and parachutes. It is friendships built on a shared memory that have become the fabric of my life.

My older daughter Melissa was a kindergartener when she first came to camp and learned to sing Boom-Chicka-Boom. Now five years later she has gotten to be an older girl leading the Daisies in song. Two years ago she sat on the dock and cheered on the middle schoolers as they swamped their canoes. Two summers from now she can have that experience herself.

Golden Pond is where she learned to cook over a fire, paddle a canoe, shoot an arrow, catch a fish and fly a flag. It is where she celebrated her eight birthday surrounded by 100 friends singing to her. Golden Pond is where she is the Gaga Ball master. Golden Pond is where she is both teacher to her younger kindergarten age sister and student for middle and high school age girls.

Last year when my youngest came to camp for the first time she stated, “this is my camp now” as we entered. Little did we know this summer, my 16th time to Golden Pond over five years, would be our final Camporee. My girls are only 6 & 9. I wonder how many more memories we could create if we were able to keep coming.

-Christine, Melissa, Kira

Marg

I went to camp for the first time when I was 5.  It was a day trip. It was too windy to canoe and I was so disappointed.  We had a big campfire and I was fascinated by the older girls and how they knew everything.  I wanted to be that…smart and funny and nice.

The next year, as a second-year Daisy, was the first time I spent the night at camp.  It was a big day. I got to go canoeing for the first time and I was excited. I went with my friend Rachel and her mom and we got around pretty well for it being our first time on the water.   I learned that I was happy on the water.

I’ve been to camp every year since.  Getting to canoe is something I’ve looked forward to, probably my favorite part of camp is getting out on the water.

Canoeing got easier as I got older,  I got stronger, I got taller. My partners changed.  I had to help teach a couple of people how to get themselves around the lake.

We learned to swamp canoes.  I was so excited for it to be my turn.  I remember seeing the older girls doing it from the dock.  I was excited but I was also nervous. We swamped but we couldn’t get back in so we had to swim it back to the dock.  It was frustrating, it was disappointing, but now it seems kind of funny. Since then, I’ve successfully swamped my canoe and got back in multiple times.  Once there was a group of little girls watching from the dock and they cheered us on. It made me realize that I was finally an ‘older girl’ and not a little kid.

Now that I’m older I go out on the water and I feel happy, calm, and free.  I like to paddle fast and go till we reach the end of the lake.

We’ve also helped pull little girls back to the beach when they can’t get their canoe back on their own.  A little rescue mission we call it.

It’s always fun.  

Ande

Our family started scouts later than most, our son started the earliest as a Cub Scout, our oldest started as a 1st year Junior and our other daughter started as a 1st year Brownie.  I started scouts as a Leader for my daughter’s Junior Troop of 2 girls!  I have been a Troop Leader for 5 years and now have a mixed Troop of 5 Cadettes and 2 Seniors.  Our children all LOVE summer resident camp.  My girls went to summer camp at Small Valley their first 3 years of scouting with the support of financial aid.  We couldn’t afford to pay the camp fees for both of our daughters, so I applied for financial aid and asked for 50% in aid for each of the girls.  At that time a short summary was required as part of the financial aid packet.  We explained to the girls the only way our family could afford summer camp was through the acceptance and approval of the financial aid application and that we would do our part to complete the packet if they chose to compete the summary part, of which both my girls eagerly completed on their own for three summer camps.  We wanted our children to understand they too had a role in the financial aid application, that this was an opportunity for them to be active participants in the process even at their young ages.  We also wanted them to experience and understand that using resources wisely often leads to desired and productive results.   As parent of 3 scouts we simply couldn’t afford send them all to summer resident camp, the combined costs was over $1,700 in camp fees, supplies, and travel costs.  We could however contribute to the collective costs and explained to our girls that we were only asking GSHPA to meet us half-way and so we asked for 50% in financial aid.  Then in our 4th year with Girl Scouts the financial aid matrix was revised and we learned that we were no longer eligible for financial aid, not even a percentage of aid would be considered as I was advised by GSHPA.  That ended our daughters’ summer camp experiences.  To say our girls were devastated is an understatement.  They both had made friends at summer camp and looked forward to that week catching up with their sister scouts from other Troops in other communities and the loss they felt about not seeing their sister scout friends was tremendous.  There was nothing we could do, our strict family budget was extended as far as it would go and while we may have sent one of our children to summer camp we would not allow the other two children to feel as though they weren’t worthy of our finances.

And then came along Jodi and Jeannie with SU-416 and the opportunity for both our Service Units to collaborate on a joint summer camp weekend at Golden Pond.  This collaboration meant summer camp was again a reality for our daughters!  Our family will forever be grateful to SU-416’s Jodi Vender and Jeannie Peters; they have no idea how much their inclusion of SU-422 has positively impacted at least one family, our family!  Thank you for being such wonderful and amazing stewards of Girl Scouts.

 

Sincerely,

Ande M.

40160 Troop Leader

Service Unit 422 Co-Lead

Jen

As a very new Troop leader and someone who was a member of a Girl Scout Troop that never went camping (at least to my recollection), I made experiencing camping a priority when I decided to start a new Daisy Troop.  Learning about the world around you and how to take care of yourself in uncomfortable situations are invaluable opportunities.  I want my daughter and her friends to respect the outdoors and grow to love spending their time outside.  My daughter, Caroline, and I went camping at Golden Pond for the first time with her Troop during her first year in Daisies.  I decided we should just try one night as she was only 5 and basically brand new to all of this.  Within an hour of being there she told me she wished we had been there for both nights.  Reflecting both on last year and this year’s winter camping trips, we both really enjoy the time we spent together and with her fellow Daisies.  Caroline also learned a great deal by going on hikes, learning about the different physical attributes of Golden Pond, being taught fun new skills from older Girl Scouts and other Troop Leaders, and, most recently, DUMP CAKES! YUM!  This facility is new to us but has already become a very special place for us.  We hope it can remain that way.

Tracy

I grew up as a Girl Scout in the Hemlock Council. My daughter, Ann, has been a Girl Scout in the Girl Scouts In the Heart of Pennsylania for 11 years and is a Gold Award Recipient. Camp Golden Pond was an essential element to raising my daughter and the girls in our troop to be positive leaders in their community. Three of the girls have achieved Gold.

During those 11 years, I had the honor and privilege of being an assistant or troop leader. Two of those years I was blessed to be the service unit summer camp director, serving approximately 100 girls in our community. Ultimately, the girls in our troop led a camporee for their peers and younger girls as well.

What makes Golden Pond Special? Magical? Essential? It is a safe place, away from home, in the wilderness, but with the safety of a modern lodge, phone service, first aid, kitchen and facilities to serve all levels and abilities of campers. Young girls can sleep in group settings in Palmer, older girls can sleep in more remote units, but all can come together for group activities. We can canoe on a beautiful lake…the first canoing experience for many girls. We can teach the girls on the archery range. We can send the girls safely around the lake on a scavenger hunt. We can even use the open fields to launch rockets.

Over the years my girls have experienced international cultures, dance, decades, fairytales, astronomy, mythology, and athletics at Golden Pond. They learned to hike. They learned to cook over a fire. They learned to make new friends, and keep old. They experienced the excitement and calmness of nature. They faced the newness of wild critters, and ruggedness of having fun, in sun or wind and rain. They learned to sleep in the wilderness. They learned to separate from their parents. They learned how to deal in a positive way with the unexpected. They learned how to listen to the guidance of older scouts and eventually become the older scouts, leading the younger girls. They learned campfire songs and comradery. They discovered independence, bravery, and curiosity. They learned that they can face their fears and acheive success.

Not only is camping at Golden Pond beneficial to the girls, but as adult leaders, we also make new friends and we also build our own leadership skills. Many of my adult friendships were results of experiences at Golden Pond. Strategies I learned as camp director helped me be a successful president of my local Rotary Club, raising and donating over $30,000 to my community during my leadership. I am now using those skills on the board of the Pennsylania Optometric Association advocating for access to quality eye care in Pennsylania, especially for children.

In summary, the time spent at Camp Golden Pond is not only powerful for youth attending camp, but also for adults and families participating in camp activities. The skills learned at Golden Pond translate to leadership and improved quality of life in our communities.

Keeping Golden Pond open is an investment in our youth and our future.