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.

Verna

This fall was our first time at Camp Golden Pond (for me and my daughter). I didn’t bring my camera along and I was so regretful because it was so pretty and we had such a great time. I thought about how we would have many more chances to enjoy the camp (and take photos!) and I’m very sad to hear that opportunity is lost. I remember my Girl Scout Camp when I was my daughter’s age and hoped she would have the same chance to make memories at Golden Pond. Very sad to hear it is closing.

Heather

I was a Girl Scout in Hemlock Council before there was a Golden Pond. My camps are gone. Places named Oakwood and Lycogis and Ioka and Barree. I know those names because I have the patches on the back of my sash. I have memories of adventures with my friends at each and every one of those places but the places are gone. Places carry importance. Places give us tangible reminders of our past, a way to tie our memories into the memories of others. Place matters.

Golden Pond is my new camp because it is my daughter’s camp. I hate that she might lose her camp the way I lost mine. ┬áMy daughter and I made our first trek to Golden Pond when she was a Kindergarten Daisy. We’ve made countless visits in the years since. Day programs and weekends, camporees and troop camps. I watched her grow from a little girl to a lovely young woman. I’ve watched as camp provided her with opportunities for leadership and friendship. She feels that losing her camp would be losing a part of her childhood.

She’s not the only one who has benefited from time at Golden Pond. I have too. I’ve made friends with a group of women (and some men) who share my values, who challenge me to be better, who make me laugh.

Without the place, will we be able to provide our girls with the same kinds of opportunities? Maybe, I don’t know for sure. I know we’ll try. But the place won’t be the same. There won’t be the same feeling of homecoming as you drive past the camp sign and onto the property. There won’t be the same welcoming glow of Legacy Lodge when you turn from the campfire and glance up the hill. Unit II, Serendipity, Palmer, the lake, the archery field, the ga-ga pit…those are our memories and Golden Pond is our place.