Faced with unanimous – and often tearful – pleas from current and former scouts, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP) announced last week that Camp Tweedale and two other regional camps will remain open, at least through September of 2012.
The news came as a relief to the hundreds of scouts and scout leaders who had besieged the GSEP Property Committee and its blog with demands that the Oxford-area camp – the only one in southern Chester County – should remain open.
The Oct. 7 announcement on the GSEP blog read, “Please be advised that the Property Committee met this week and discussed our members’ questions regarding our intent to run summer programs at our camps next summer. It was decided we will continue to run outdoor programs at all camps through September 30, 2012, which includes running resident/day camp at Tweedale.”
The other camps spared from closing – for now – are Camp Tohikane in Bucks County, and Hidden Falls in the Poconos.
Chester County accounts for just over 6,500 scouts in the council, and if Tweedale had closed, parents and leaders would have been forced to drive two or three hours to get to an overnight camping site. The long history of Tweedale – it dates to the 1930s – meant generations of girls and women had sentimental attachments to the lake, cabins and rustic appeal of the wooded camp.
At an unprecedented expression of concern, hundreds of scouts and parents met with the GSEP Property Committee in August to present their point of view, along with a list of some 2,000 signatures in favor of saving Tweedale.
In a GSEP blog post from Oct. 9, Debra McCann wrote, “That is wonderful news that ALL the camps will remain open for summer camp next year. … My troop of Daisies through Juniors returned today from a weekend of camping at Tweedale. My 5-10 year olds absolutely LOVED roughing it at Ridge A-Frames, cooking over a fire, and they even got used to the pit latrines. Never once did I hear a girl ask for an ipod, a cell phone, or air conditioning. … Having next summer is wonderful. Now make the impressive, brave, and right choice, and make it forever.”
Pat Horrocks, of Penn Township, has been a scout leader at all levels and was part of the team that began the Machaloha Service Unit, which covers the Avon Grove School District. In an e-mailed response, she wrote, “The meeting at the Mendenhall Inn was proof that local adult and young women leaders can make this world a better place. The confidence that Camp Tweedale is a place where our young scouts learn how to be leaders with courage, confidence and character was endorsed by Council’s decision to re-evaluate Girl Scout camping and to keep the camps open for another year.
“I am convinced that Camp Tweedale will be teaching the next generation that they can make their world a better place for many people.”
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail email@example.com.