Can GSNEO Afford to Keep Seven Camps? YES
John Graves, chief financial officer of Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, has stated that closing the camps and building two Premier Leadership Centers would result in net savings of less than $150,000/yr.
Here are 10 ways to lower the cost of operating the camps:
- Assess the needs at all seven camps and prioritze repairs and impovements. No one expects instant transformation.
- Utilize volunteer assistance. One general contractor has stepped forward to volunteer his services in an assessment. Professional builders and other tradespeople have offered to work free or at a reduced price to save thse camps for the girls. Other groups have offered to be the unskilled "workhorses" providing the muscle power under the direction of professionals. This is similar to the GE volunteers taking a day to overhaul camps in the past.
Ohio Operating Engineers has a training facility located just outside the northwest corner of the Crowell Hilaka camp fence. Prior to the merger, they did much of the heavy equipment work at this camp They will resume that partnership if we ask.
University of Akron has a civil engineering department that is interested in assisting with camp construction projects that could fit into individual student project needs. Kent State offers a Parks & Recreation major that is looking for interning opportunities for its students. Case Western Reserve University has expressed an informal interest in making up the models to show the internal workings of the Kirby inventions at camp.
- Two of the camps that are on the market are already IN EXCELLENT CONDITION! These are Camp Lejnar in Lake County and Pleasant Valley in Seneca County.
Pleasant Valley is a small camp with new construction and very low maintence costs. GSUSA properties consultant Glen Chin noted that the main building is "a very functional and attractive lodge", and that the entire camp "could be viewed as an important weekend troop camping site."
Glen Chin was very impressed with Camp Lejnar, calling it "one of the most attractive sites within the council's portfolio". He called Heise House "a terrific cabin". His best praise was for Forest Grove: "An attractive and functional unit, Each cabin has an indoor bathroom and sink (a real novelty) and serves 8 girls. The shelter is multi-pupose that can serve each cabin simultaneously . Probably one of the best shelters I have seen." Camp Lejnar is supported in part by the Verby Fund, which is dedicated for use at Lejnar only.
- Camps Ledgewood, Crowell HIlaka, and Great Trail are more historic and undeniabley need work. However, Great Trail Camp recieves tremendous support in the South region, both from the members and community. Benefactor Guy Renkert of Ironstone has spoken out in favor of the camp and supports efforts to keep it a GS camp.
- The other two camps are less than ten miles apart from each other. This short distance worked to advantage for large events such as the Cadette/Senior Summit, when girls could participate in activities at both camps in one weekend! Camp Ledgewood doesn't need to be torn up for expensive new plumbing for flush toilets if we keep nearby Crowell Hilaka. C/H only needs an upgrade to the present sewage treatment system. Ledgewood could keep its more primitive flavor for older girls. Crowell Hilaka, with its many indoor sites and proximity to town and highways could fuction well as a starter camp for younger girls and new leaders. Since these two camps are located in the most densly populated "belt" between Cleveland and Akron, both would get excellent usage if properly promoted.
- We do not need a lot of swimming pools. They are typically only used during the summer – even then, many girls do not use them for swimming per se. They can be happy playing in water without a pool. Creek hikes, wading, slip & slides, splash games - all fill the bill. Close the pools at Great Trail, Timberlane, and Crowell Hilaka. When extra money becomes available, transform Timberlane's pool area into a water play zone.
- Crowell Hilaka doesn't need a new dam – it needs increased lake capacity for flood control - which could possibly be obtained with construction of a retention pond on the east creek. The land on which this could be built is available for sale and includes two new houses, and septic system with additional capacity . The back line of this property runs along the archery field at the gas cut. A road could easily be cut from the existing camp road to the existing houses, and additional primitive campsites would be erected with tie-ins to existing septic system. The land is being sold by a Girl Scout family, and they would likely give us a good price. Click here for the Ohio Department of Natural Resource's report on the needs of the lower lake and dam.
- GSNEO currently maintains 5 offices: The main Macedonia building and 4 satellite offices in North Canton, Niles, Lorain, and Cleveland. The Cleveland office is rented, the others are owned outright by GSNEO. Consider whether services provided at the buildings are worth their cost. Perhaps they can be closed, and services provided by a mobile unit that would visit each region on a regular schedule.
- Over the life of the council we have seen a large increase in staff at a high turn-over rate. Training of new staff is costly. Council operations need to be streamlined so that we can operate effectively with smaller, more stable staff. Non-essential programs may need to be cut temporarily until the deferred maintenance needs at camp have been resolved.