Girl Scouts to sell 3 WNY properties

February 7, 2012 Updated Feb 7, 2012 at 8:58 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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February 7, 2012 Updated Feb 7, 2012 at 8:58 AM EDT

A year after selling a Buffalo-area resident camp, the Girl Scouts of WNY has announced it will sell three more camp properties.

The divestiture of Camp Sky High in Orchard Park, Camp Oak Orchard in Medina and Camp Pinewood in Dansville is the final implementation of a property realignment plan begun in 2006 following the merger that brought together four councils covering nine counties in the Buffalo-Rochester areas.

At the time of the merger, the merged organization had eight camp properties, including four resident (overnight) sites and four day camps.

The property realignment began in January 2011, when the 175-acre Zoar Valley Camp in Cattaraugus County was sold for $200,000. That site had been closed since 2008.

A property committee made up of 17 members from throughout the region worked with a national consultant to analyze accessibility, capacity versus usage and efficiency. Judith Maness, board chair, said in a statement the council recognizes the emotional toll the camp sales will have on members.

"We will do everything we can to address this, yet at the heart of this decision is what's best for meeting the needs of today's girls while ensuring a strong future of Girl Scouting throughout our communities," she said.

Selling the properties, Maness said, will help the organization reduce costs and maximize resources to have a stronger foundation to service the entire region and meet the needs of girls today and in the future.

The three sites had lower utilization rates and required more than $500,000 in repairs alone, with an estimated $1 million required for improvements or updates. Selling the properties will enable the council to reinvest in necessary improvements at its remaining properties, the committee said.

For the summer 2012 season, four camps will be in operation: Camp Seven Hills in Holland, a day and resident camp; Camp Windy Meadows in Lockport, a day camp; Camp Piperwood in Perinton, a day camp; and Camp Timbercrest in Randolph, a day and resident camp.

In addition to traditional camp experiences at the four sites, the council will also offer special programming through trips to Disney World and New York City; as well as Camp CEO, a career and networking program with female executives from the region.

Cindy Odom, CEO, said in a statement summer camp remains a valuable part of the scouting experience.

"For 100 years, Girl Scouting has focused on building leadership skills in girls and young women by offering programs that are girl-centric," she said. "Girl Scout summer camp is one of the core programs that develop responsibility, qualities of leadership and an awareness of the capacities of all people. We ensure that every available Girl Dollar is invested in our girls."

Pinewood is the largest of the three properties: a 780-acre property with two heated lodges, an amphitheater and boathouse. Oak Orchard, which has been "rested" by the council for several years, is a 90-acre site in Orleans County, with a heated lodge.

The smallest site is Sky High, a 14-acre property with two lodges and two small cabins. Programs will continue at Sky High through June, with the summer day camp program shifting to Camp Lakeside adjacent to the Seven Hills resident camp in Holland. Campers will now have swimming boating and lake activities available.

Other phases of the plan included the sale and relocation of the Buffalo service center; the relocation of the Batavia service center; as well as the sale and relocation of the Rochester service center, still in progress.

Troops and outside groups will continue to be able to camp at all three sites on a rental basis until the properties are sold.

There are no additional plans to sell additional properties.

Operating on a budget of about $6 million, the council serves 20,000 girls and 9,000 adult volunteers across the region, with program and service centers in Depew, Batavia, Jamestown, Lockport and Rochester.

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