A group calling itself Supporters of Camp Archbald was informed on Sunday afternoon that there may be some good news concerning their efforts to prevent the Girl Scout camp located in Susquehanna County from being severely downsized.
SOCA member Nikki Morristell informed the group at the Factoryville borough building that Ellen Kazer, CEO of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, will be calling for an executive council next week to discuss the situation.
Morristell said that Kazer informed them of the meeting after SOCA representatives met with her twice, making arguments why the camp should not be downsized.
Made up of Girl Scout leaders, service units, and alumni, SOCA was formed after it was learned the GSHPA was considering selling off a large section of land at Camp Archbald, and razing approximately half of its 24 structures. The move would severely curtail Girl Scout activities at the camps such as overnight excursions.
Morristell, who was elected president of SOCA during the meeting, said they do not know exactly what will be discussed about the camp during the executive meeting. However, Morristell said she is encouraged, given the fact the meeting is being called in response to SOCA expressing its concerns about the camp.
SOCA was informed that Camp Archbald costs about $527,000 per year to run, which is why it is being downsized. However, Morristell said that they learned from a presentation during a GSHPA governance meeting recap that figures includes ‘side money’ which is earmarked for special maintenance costs - such as if a new roof is needed for a building.
Another issue discussed during the governance meeting was what about the money Camp Archbald generates from the natural gas wells drilled on the property. Morristell said SOCA was informed none of the gas drilling money goes directly to support Camp Archbald. Instead, it is distributed to 30 different Girl Scout councils overseen by GSHPA.
Kevin Ray of Forkston Township asked if Brooklyn Township in Susquehanna County has issued any permits to demolish the buildings in question. Olivia Bernardi reported that she has filed a request with Susquehanna County and is expecting an answer within five days.
Ray also inquired if they could obtain copies of the deeds when the property was sold to the Girl Scouts. Ray said he is under the impression that when the land was sold, certain restrictions were included in the deeds concerning any possible resale. Morristell said they have obtained copies of the five deeds, and are having an attorney look them over.
Eileen Head said that the decision to downsize Camp Archbald was suppose to be made following a three-year review. But then GSHPA announced that the building demolitions are slated to begin on June 1. Head explained that SOCA informed Kazer the group is willing to donate the time, materials and manpower necessary to renovate the buildings in question and bring them up to specifications.
Head also explained that the next nearest Girl Scout facility is Camp Small Valley in Halifax - which is about four hours away. Another problem, she said, is Camp Small Valley doesn’t have a lake, which means scouts wanting to obtain badges for water related activities would have to find another location.
Joan Peterson said that about 20 troops locally - including those in Tunkhannock, Nicholson, Factoryville, and Clarks Summit - use Camp Archbald extensively for their activities. If the camp is downsized, it would mean many of those activities would have to be extremely curtailed.
The group voted to hold an overnight event at Camp Archbald for its members from May 11 to 13. The event is to allow members to look over the camp and discuss future courses of action.
Morristell also announced that SOCA, in cooperation with GSHPA, will hold a ‘summer resident’ outing at Camp Archbald July 15 to 20.
“We’re going to pack it with all the Girl Scouts throughout the area,” Head explained.