The following information is from a press release on April 27th:
Non-binding vote may not change the Board’s recommendation to sell.
On April 22, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Board of Directors held a Special Meeting with Girl Scout delegates and member guests to vote on whether to sell Camp Ilchester, a 20-acre wooded camp and nature center in Ellicott City. Three weeks prior to this meeting, GSCM Board made an official recommendation to sell the camp so they can partially fund a $21M rebuilding project at Camp Woodlands in Annapolis.
In the final count, 37 voting members chose “yes” to sell the camp; 50 opposed the sale. Voting membership includes the board of directors, the board nominating committee, and member delegates. The Accounting firm Ellin & Tucker, who administered and verified the vote, did not provide a breakout of board votes compared to the membership delegates votes. However, it is estimated that board members represented at least 19 of the 87 votes.
Though the majority opposed the recommended sale, the vote is non-binding, which means the board can ultimately choose what they feel is best for the organization, regardless of the results. The official board vote on whether or not to sell the camp is set to take place by May 4.
During the meeting, GSCM board members affirmed that they have not made a decision on whether to sell Camp Ilchester and that they will take member feedback into account when they make their final decision. CEO Violet Apple shared renderings of the rebuilding project at Camp Woodlands to generate enthusiasm around the strategy to sell Camp Ilchester and invest in the “camp of the future.” The board stated that their intent is to make Camp Woodlands a much more attractive, year-round, revenue-generating facility, rather than investing in what one board member called, “renovating tired, old 1965 camps.” The board also stated that donors are more willing to fund new buildings and reenvisioning projects over maintenance of old camps.
During the question and answer portion of the meeting, voting members asked for more information about GSCM’s long-term financial plan, feedback and research gathered to create the rebuilding plan for Camp Woodlands, the disrepair and poor maintenance at current camps, and failed camp-reenvisioning projects by other councils. Board members’ answers lacked details and specifics; they only offered high-level explanations and personal reassurances of their hopes for the future.
After the meeting closed, Girl Scout members who oppose the sale left contemplating the same major concerns since the initial announcement:
- GSCM has not demonstrated that selling Camp Ilchester is a viable financial plan to fund the redevelopment of Camp Woodlands. In addition, there is no long-term funding plan (no grants or donors) for upkeep and maintenance at Camp Woodlands or any of the other remaining Girl Scout camps (which are in disrepair due to GSCM’s decision to defer maintenance). GSCM has also not demonstrated how the Camp Woodlands project will be a financial success story when similar strategies failed at Girl Scout camps in other councils.
- Selling Camp Ilchester will significantly decrease availability of outdoor camp experiences for girls and reduce access disproportionately. If Camp Ilchester is sold, only three camps will remain to serve 20,000 girls and 8,000 adults in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties. In addition, the renovated Camp Woodlands will likely have higher rental fees to cover costs, limiting access to those without financial means.
- The razing of Camp Ilchester by a residential developer will negatively impact the environment, the Ellicott City and Elkridge community, and local youth programming. The Camp Ilchester property is zoned R20, making it attractive to residential developers. The GSCM board stated that they are selling Camp Ilchester because it has the highest market value of the camp properties, and they are moving quickly because they want to take advantage of the current real estate market. This suggests the GSCM board would favor a residential buyer over a preservation buyer. When asked if they would commit to a preservation buyer, the board stated that if they decide to sell, they will be open to all options, but also expressed a desire to sell sooner than later.
The Love for Camp Ilchester Coalition was formed for the purpose of keeping Camp Ilchester a green open space for use by youth and the community if it cannot be sustained as a Girl Scout Camp. For more information, contact us at RallyforCampIlchester@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.
Here are photos from the Save Camp Ilchester Rally (4-11-21):