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Girl Scouts will close Ligonier-area camp

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The Girl Scouts of Southwestern Pennsylvania have opted to sell 46-year-old Camp Henry Kaufmann in Fairfield Township.

The council's board of trustees last week formally approved an April recommendation made by a special cost-cutting task force that suggested the 492-acre property be closed to save money. In addition, instead of leasing the camp to other recreational users, the board of directors opted to put the popular Girl Scout camp site up for sale.

"The board decided against leasing the site for financial and liability reasons. If the council were to lease the camp, the council would still be financially responsible for its upkeep as well as liability issues that would arise for nonmember use," said Susan Orr, director of communications for the council.

A year ago, the council established a property task force to study ways to cut about $230,000 a year in camp operation costs. The Pittsburgh-based council, which covers several area counties including a small portion of Westmoreland, has had deficit budgets for the past couple of years and has had to cut programs.

The closing of the local camp is expected to save about $185,600, which is the annual subsidy for the camp, according to Orr. The amount accounts for about 32 percent of support for all of its outdoor programs.

The closing will be effective March 1, 2004, in order to accommodate reservations at the camp that have been booked through February 2004.

The council has four remaining camps -- Redwing in Butler County, Timberlake in Washington County, Yough in Allegheny County and Weller in Preston County, W.Va.

The council believes that the number of troops that went camping in the last year can be served at its other camps. In addition, the Western Pennsylvania Girl Scout Regional Alliance, which includes the Girl Scout Council of Westmoreland, will jointly offer resident camping to girls in the four councils that comprise the alliance.

That means girls will be able to choose to attend camps in any council.

The closing will not affect Westmoreland's 120-acre Laurel Mountain Camp, near Rector, in Ligonier Township.

The council intends to hold a ceremony at the Fairfield Township camp shortly before its official closing on March 1, Orr said.

Also, money from the sale will be used to support the council's outdoor programs. The council purchased the property in 1957.

For more information, call 412-594-2202.

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