Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Board of Directors recommends finding a buyer for Camp Ilchester in Ellicott City

The following is a message from Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Board of Directors sent out via email on March 30, 2021 and posted on their website:

Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world.  Everything a Girl Scout does centers around STEM, the outdoors, the development of life skills, and entrepreneurship.  In order to bring Girl Scouting to girls now and into the future, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland must engage in honest conversations about the state of the Council and make decisions today that set up the Council for success to serve girls for generations to come.

After thorough review of all of the figures and facts (including a decade of expert studies), it is clear to us that continued prudent fiscal management including reducing deficits across the board and managing with a balanced budget is critical to the long-term health of the Council. One of our largest, consistently deficit-funded areas is property.  Now is the time to discuss the properties and what is the right move for the future of the organization we all love.

Professional evaluations have been conducted on our camp properties for more than a decade and the recommendation is to find a buyer for Camp Ilchester.  Funds gained from the reduced property costs and sale of Camp Ilchester will go towards re-envisioning Camp Woodlands, making it a property that has progressive camping and outdoors experiences for girls now and long into the future. This expert advice is what we, the Board, have thoroughly reviewed, discussed, and are recommending.

At the March 30th Delegate Forum, we presented the history, facts, and figures along with the recommendation to find a buyer for Camp Ilchester and focus resources gained on Camp Woodlands. Because it’s important for this to be an open and transparent discussion with time for reflection, Delegates have been asked to share this information with members, have conversations, and come back to a Delegate Forum on April 20, 2021 for further discussion and an advisory vote on the recommendation.

All members are encouraged to ask questions, share thoughts and send comments directly with the Board by emailing between now and April 19th. Due to the expected volume of emails, we may not be able to respond to each comment individually. Please know that every email sent to the address provided will be shared with, and read by, the GSCM Board of Directors.

We understand and are respectful of the sentimental attachments to individual camp properties; many of us on the Board have fond memories of them ourselves. But the need to examine our current portfolio is one based on financial facts.

This situation is an opportunity to build girls’ critical thinking and decision-making skills. Throughout their lives girls will be asked to make difficult decisions like this. We can use this experience as an opportunity to talk with girls about how to evaluate the costs and benefits of a decision, and how the right decision is not always the easiest.

Our camps and outdoor programming are as important as ever and the related programs are essential to who we are as an organization. They play a critical role in our mission as they help us build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.  We are committed to making sure there are robust outdoor and camping experience for girls through the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.

As questions and comments are emailed to us, an FAQ tab will be created here on our website. The FAQ will be updated as well as this page with new information once it is available.

– Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Board of Directors

View this information here:

The current camps listed on the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland are:

  • Camp Conowingo | Conowingo, MD
  • Camp Ilchester | Ellicott City, MD
  • Camp Whippoorwill | Pasadena, MD
  • Camp Woodlands | Annapolis, MD

Additional information about Camp Ilchester in Ellicott City:

Camp Ilchester, located in Ellicott City, Maryland provides multiple opportunities for program activities, camping and meetings. This 19-acre site is home to the Clementine Peterson Activity Center, the perfect venue for meetings, seminars, training and indoor programs with its large meeting rooms and commercial kitchen.

Have thoughts on this topic…let me know in the comments.

I will check back in on this topic after the “Delegate Forum on April 20, 2021 for further discussion and an advisory vote on the recommendation”.

Scott E


    • Would that it were, but the property will almost certainly go to a developer, just like when GSCM sold the first half of the camp in the 1990s. And what do we have to show for it? After 30 more years of fiscal mismanagement, the GS families and volunteers who do all the actual work to make scouting happen are expected to sacrifice once again to support the central bureaucracy that does . . . what exactly?

      To be clear, this “progressive camp” that they intend to use this money for in Camp Woodlands is essentially a giant office building, and the whole endeavor will involve bulldozing a good portion of that camp as well. I wonder if these unnamed experts were consulted about environmental stewardship.

      I am not convinced that our girls need more computer screens. Nor am I aware that there is a currently a shortage of STEM education opportunities for girls in this area. There is, however, a shortage of greenspace for them to enjoy and to appreciate, where they can gain the true confidence that only comes from practicing independence — confidence that is essential for success in life, regardless of whether that life centers around whatever job skills they might be expected to learn at the Camp Woodlands office park.

      How dreadful and how dreary this proposal is. But it seems to be a vanity project for Board and the paid executives, so I am afraid it will come to pass.


  1. It’s an awful idea which will not only reduce camp opportunities for Scouts and Y campers in the region (Howard, Carroll, and Baltimore Counties), but also take away much needed green space in eastern Howard Co. These 20 acres will most likely go to a residential developer, who will clear the land to build homes that the area doesn’t need. The local schools are already over crowded (Ilchester, Bonnie Branch, and Howard) and the runoff caused by replacing trees with houses will exacerbate flooding along the Patapaco.

    This proposed sale shows a lack of good stewardship of the land by Girl Scouts of Central MD. It violates the Girl Scout Law statements about using resources wisely and making the world a better place. Once this green forest is gone, we can’t get it back, and that would be a travesty for the entire Howard community.


    • Really the area doesn’t need housing? You’ve got to be kidding. We have a housing crisis. Let’s hope the county requires at least 30% of the units be built for affordable housing.


  2. Removing this camp will remove accessible outdoor programming for thousands of children with no plan to replace it. Furthermore, there is very low transparency regarding this ‘expert advice’ and the surveys conducted of the girls in making these plans included very leading questions that did not adequately explore what girls want. Hundreds of families have come forward to say that removing this camp will be detrimental to their scouting experience. A review of the financials of GSCM shows that they do not appear to be in any financial trouble and the destruction of this camp will be to solely prop up another camp where they want to build structures with air conditioning and wifi, thus creating more of a conference center instead of a camp. In our increasingly screen-time focused world, removing opportunities for girls to spend time outdoors exploring nature seems like a terrible idea, even to the girls who love their tablets and Netflix. Furthermore, it appears that the plans are to sell this land to a developer, which will include environmental impacts on the area.


  3. I was an Ilchester Day camper in the 1960’s when the camp was so much larger. I learned to love the way the natural world looks in our part of the world. To this day, the parkland in the Patapsco basin is a both a comfort and an adventure for me. I mourned the first property sale…that was designed to save the camp.

    Both of our daughters attended the smaller Ilchester. Even our son was in the tag-a-long and boys’ unit when I returned as a volunteer. Losing this camp will change the face of Girl Scouting in Howard County. We all loved camp names (Mrs. Mommy was mine.), the opportunity to build leadership skills for the Program Assistants (PA’s) and universally hated the dreaded announcements.

    Selling the remaining property will change the face of Girl Scouting in Howard and Baltimore Counties. The campers and adult volunteers developed a sense of community that reached outside the property. Woodlands may be a better facility, but it won’t be OUR facility.


  4. Once the camp is gone, it’s gone. Forever.

    I am so disappointed that the Board cannot see the value of this property beyond the cash that they can extract from it. I am talking about the values of adventure, leadership, independence, and nature, which I always understood to be at the core of scouting. But extract the cash they will, and immediately dump it into some quickly depreciating assets in Anne Arundel County. A 1990s-style computer lab. Just what our girls need after being relegated to a “virtual” life for more than a year.

    I notice that the article invokes the “experts” and their expert opinions about half a dozen times. I suppose this is meant to overawe the Girl Scout community and impress upon us the wisdom of this decision. I am not impressed. I would have been more impressed had the Board hired a consultant before busting its budget by purchasing its extravagant Baltimore offices that now sit empty. Much better to sell those than to sell Camp Ilchester.


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