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.