Resident camp discontinued at Camp Archbald

Parents and troop leaders questioned Girl Scout officials over notices they received that there would be no resident campers at Brooklyn Township’s Camp Archibald this summer.
For decades the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania have run Camp Archibald just outside of Montrose here in Susquehanna County.
At Camp Archibald, the young scouts can swim, canoe, kayak and enjoy the great outdoors of Northeast Pennsylvania. It is the second oldest Girl Scout camp in the United States. It was officially dedicated in 1920.
But April Mountain, a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, said that registration numbers for campers at Camp Archibald are so low that the GSHPA can no longer justify the expense of keeping support staff, maintenance personnel, food and board available for the campers at Camp Archibald as they have in the past.
“We weren’t able to sustain that because we didn’t have enough resident campers registering to go to resident camp,” Mountain said.
“Camp Archibald is open for summer activities. It’s available now for troop or services units in a certain area to register for the camp, to use the camp for the summer,” Mountain explained.
“What’s not being offered and this is what people are reacting to is called resident camp. Troops and service units can still absolutely use camp,” Mountain said.
“I absolutely appreciate that people are passionate and have memories and history about these camps but our girls are saying they want to be doing something else,” Mountain said.
But for Rebecca Montross, a Girl Scout troop leader from Tunkhannock, despite the fact that she and others repeatedly questioned GSHPA about the future of Camp Archibald, it was news to her that there would be no summer resident camp.
In November, GSHPA announced a broad reassessment of seven properties, including the 288 acre Camp Archibald. After a review the GSHPA board made the decision to retire about half of the Camp Archibald property.
“The process of retiring these camps will take many months. Proceeds from divestment of any camp properties will be kept in a separate fund and will require Board approval to be utilized. GSHPAA is committed to communicating openly as the process unfolds and is sensitive to the concerns of local members and communities,” GSHPA said in a November 2 press release explaining its long range planning.
“They were pretty clear that all their properties were in one of three categories: one, remain open; two, under review, and then closed,” Montross said.
“They never mentioned that there would be no Girl Scout sponsored program at camp Archibald,” Montross said.
Montross, the head of Girl Scout Troop 50015, disagreed with Mountain’s claim that her scouts feel they’ve outgrown summer resident camp.
“I don’t hear that from the girls,” Montross said. “I can’t dispute that’s what they hear from their larger membership group.”
Besides the now snow covered campground, Camp Archibald is also home to several lucrative gas sites, Montross pointed out. Montross asked why if GSHPA received money from gas royalties those monies don’t offset any losses caused by drops in camper registrations? GSHPA received over $2.3 million in gas royalties from Cabot Gas. The camp cost $527,000 a year to operate.
GSHPA is a non-profit organization which regularly solicits tax deductible donations.
Earlier this month GSHPA sent out a press release announcing that it was headed into the “next century” of fundraising through the sale of Girl Scout Cookies after last year celebrating its 100th year.
“The property has gas leases but it doesn’t appear that they’ve dedicated those funds into improving the camp or keeping it open,” she said.
“Most leaders would understand if it was purely a financial reason. But we also know that there is an income source,” she said.
Samantha Pasternak, a service unit leader for Abington Heights, Lackawanna Trail and Tunkhannock Area school districts, has joined a petition drive to Save Camp Archibald. According to its website on change.org it already has over 10,000 signatures. She too questions where the revenue from the gas wells go.
“We feel like we’re not given any information on where the money is going,” Pasternak said.
“I don’t know but it’s not going to serve girls in Northeast Pennsylvania,” she said.

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