SHICKSHINNY — It was a difficult, but necessary, decision.
Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania announced in July it would close Camp Louise.
The agency’s board of directors decided to close the camp immediately after Ellen Kyzer, president and CEO, reported “serious infrastructure” problems.
“The sleeping units were unsafe,” Kyzer said. “As a council, we put health, safety and welfare of the girls first.”
Beside the units, the camp’s pool was closed because it wasn’t holding water and the Sunset Lake dam has an unspecified issue.
Founded in 1959, Camp Louise is 340 acres boasting a 25-acre lake, hiking trails and walking paths. According to the Girl Scouts website, the camp can accommodate 202 people in the summer, 63 people in the winter and more than 500 people for single daytime events.
There are four lodges, two cabins and five tents on the property. Three of the four lodges were used during the winter, tents were allowed from May 1 to Sept. 30 and the cabin and other lodge were opened April 15 to Oct. 15.
According to Kyzer, nearly 300 girls used the camp on a yearly basis and there was a single camp ranger who stayed on site. The camp made use of volunteers.
“The staff is our first priority,” Kryzer noted.
Campers don’t receive a traditional pin or patch while at camp, but can be awarded badges throughout their week at camp by participating in activities.
“There are multiple pathways,” Kyzer said about the potential for outdoor badges. She also noted her staff is helping leaders figure out new ways for the girls to receive awards.
Social media campaign
Since the announcement of the camp’s closing, made at Bloomsburg University, several camp leaders have taken to social media to protest the immediate closure.
As a former Girl Scout who used the camp, Kyzer said she understands the “emotional ties” many have to the camp.
Several Scout leaders have pleaded with the board to keep the camp open. Behind the @SaveCampLouise Twitter account are leaders Mindy Wesley, Dallas; Rosanne Mistretta, originally from Pittston; Janet Barrett, Lopez, N.Y.; Michelle Conors, Weatherly; Holly Andrews, Plymouthl and Kathleen Lockman, Hanover Township.
For the women, it was a “mix of emotions,” according to Mistretta, who currently lives near Philadelphia and spoke for the group.
“I’m sad that it has spurred me to action,” she said.
Mistretta has a long history with the camp. She was once a camper and, by the time she finished law school, she was teaching nighttime water activities.
Both Kyzer and Mistretta said the board and Friends of Camp Louise will sit down in early October to discuss the future of the Columbia County camp.
Mistretta wants board members to come to the meeting with information the Friends of Camp Louise have requested or produce it soon after the meeting.
“We’re going to work together,” Mistretta said. “We want to save the camp together.”
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko