Camp Whispering Pines is an ecological treasure and a place that transformed the lives of thousands of girls like me from New Orleans from the 1970s onward. As a troop camper, I remember walking across the bottom of unfilled Timber Lake. As a resident camper, I developed self-esteem and confidence during my two-week primitive camping session, and how to be a leader during a summer-long counselor-in-training program. As a young adult, I learned about working with diverse groups of people, teamwork, and the strong work ethic that comes from being a member of the CWP staff. These experiences led me to a career in youth development that included work at three Girl Scout Councils and being an executive director of three camps and outdoor centers that serve historically marginalized young people.
Despite the tremendous impact that the camp has had on so many lives, it appears the Girl Scouts of Louisiana East have been dealing with declining membership and financial challenges for some time and decided they cannot afford to repair and maintain this incredible outdoor center. They came to this decision without any real feedback from girls, volunteers, alumni or donors.
As a nonprofit executive, I understand how COVID-19 exacerbated their challenges but implore the council to lead with their values, specifically their values of “using resources wisely” and “making the world a better place.” Caring and learning about the outdoors has always been a cornerstone of the Girl Scout program. Preserving land to teach young people to care about the outdoors is critically important as the next generation must find solutions to our ongoing climate challenges. If the camp must be sold, it’s imperative that a conservation buyer is found to save this 595-acre vanishing ecosystem.
president, Princeton-Blairstown Center
Dingman’s Ferry, PA
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