GS council to retain ten acres of Camp Furnace Hills

By on August 18, 2017

Girl Scouts gather at Camp Furnace Hills, local Girl Scouts’ main camping experience since 1947.

The Board of Director’s vote was mandated by GSHPA’s insurance provider following significant storm damage to the property incurred in February 2017; and was informed by the research and assessment work conducted by the Long-Range Property and Program Planning Committee.


Board of Directors of GSHPA statement on Camp Furnace Hills, August 18, 2017

On August 17, 2017, the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania

(GSHPA) voted on the future use of Camp Furnace Hills, a camp owned by GSHPA and located in

Denver, Pennsylvania. Specifically, the Board unanimously voted to:

 Retain ten acres of the camp located to the east of Girl Scout Road, to be used for

outdoor experiences, including day camp and the continued offering of the Foxfire


— Develop a master plan to clean-up, repair, renovate and invest in the retained ten acres

to enable the revised footprint to successfully support enhanced outdoor experiences.

The Board of Director’s vote was mandated by GSHPA’s insurance provider following significant

storm damage to the property incurred in February 2017; and was informed by the research

and assessment work conducted by the Long-Range Property and Program Planning


Camping remains one of the most distinctive Girl Scout experiences and GSHPA appreciates the

deep ties that Girl Scouts and volunteers have to Camp Furnace Hills. A safe outdoor experience

will continue to play a key role in GSHPA efforts to help today’s girls become tomorrow’s

leaders. The best interests of the all of the girls in the council continue to guide GSHPA efforts.

GSHPA has an opportunity and obligation to allocate resources so that they best serve all girls

in the council membership. Camp is an important program offering but not the only program of

interest as girls communicated through a membership survey and focus groups. GSHPA remains

committed to the outdoor experience while balancing upkeep and operating costs of camps

with diminished utilization rates, the demand for innovative new programs and the resources

required to better support adults as troop leaders and volunteers.

The role of the Long-Range Property and Program Planning Committee is to implement a

transparent assessment process that recommends a sustainable investment in GSHPA’s

outdoor programs and properties for future use. Extensive public comment has been invited

from girls, adult members and volunteers related to the LRPPPC’s evaluation of all properties

and programs offered by GSHPA.

Background on the storm’s impact to CFH

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, Lancaster County experienced two storm systems with

recorded wind speeds ranging between 75-90 miles per hour causing an estimated $7 million

dollars in damage throughout Lancaster County. Camp Furnace Hills, owned by Girl Scouts in

the Heart of PA and located in Denver, Pennsylvania sustained significant damage from these

storms. As a result of this incident, the property was closed for safety reasons and, since that

time, GSHPA has worked with its insurance adjustor to assess the damage and determine next


Background on the Long-Range Property and Program Planning Committee (LRPPPC) process

In 2016 and with a new CEO at the helm, the status of the seven camps in the GSHPA footprint

became a priority for careful review. The GSHPA board authorized a volunteer committee made

up of 15 community experts, volunteers and board members to conduct a thorough and

council-wide analysis of outdoor programs and properties.

This is part of our long-range planning initiative to strengthen the mission of Girl Scouts and

develop a girl-focused blueprint to meet the program needs of today’s and tomorrow’s girls. In

addition to the review of financial considerations, it was important to collect feedback from

girls in order to develop a girl-focused blueprint for the future. The LRPPPC has taken a

thoughtful approach to ensure that recommendations will position the council to provide girls,

leaders and families with an optimal Girl Scout experience going forward. The committee

utilized a variety of research methods including surveys, focus groups and town hall meetings

to collect feedback from girls, volunteers and families. All participants were invited randomly

and self-selected. The committee also benefited from outside research and planning expertise,

online webinars and other relevant data collection points.

Members of the LRPPPC and GSHPA staff have been dedicated to a transparent and girl-focused

process. GSHPA has sought to communicate regularly with members, solicit their input

throughout the process, and explore all options that keep girls interested and active in scouting.

The Committee currently is forming their recommendations related to all properties and

programs operated by the council, based on member input and extensive research conducted,

to present for GSHPA board decision on November 2, 2017.

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