Troop leaders protest closing of Camp Rolling RidgesThe decommissioning and eventual sale of the Girl Scouts’ Camp Rolling Ridges is a done deal Scout leaders told about 125 people who attended a meeting at the camp Thursday night, Feb. 11.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The decommissioning and eventual sale of the Girl Scouts’ Camp Rolling Ridges is a done deal Scout leaders told about 125 people who attended a meeting at the camp Thursday night, Feb. 11.
But that didn’t prevent Scout troop leaders from the East Twin Cities Metro and western Wisconsin from making their case for keeping the 555-acre camp open.
“There is no other place like Rolling Ridges. Why are we giving up something that is so valuable and we’ll never have again?” a leader from Woodbury, Minn., asked. Her comment appeared to sum up the position of a majority of those in attendance.
Leaders of the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys spent about 45 minutes explaining the rationale for closing the camp before inviting questions from the audience.
The informational meeting took place in the Eileen Bigelow Center, a dining hall and multi-purpose facility that can accommodate groups of up to 600 people.
The spacious hall – with a cathedral ceiling, exposed timber beams and ceiling to floor windows on one side – was built in 2001 following a capital campaign by the former St. Croix Valley Girl Scout Council that raised $11 million for facility improvements at properties throughout its region.
In 2002, the St. Croix Valley Council added a swimming pool to the camp.
Five years later, the St. Croix Valley Council and four Minnesota councils merged to form the new Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys.
The new council appointed a volunteer property task group last year to assess its 17 camps and other program facilities, with a charge to recommend properties for closure.
Last month, the River Valleys Council announced that its board had voted to accept the task group’s recommendation to sell Rolling Ridges, as well as camps Greenwood at Buffalo, Minn., and Piper Hill at Medford.
Greenwood and Piper Hill have been closed for the past two years.
Rolling Hills is still in operation, however. And it’s a popular day camp for troops in western Wisconsin and the eastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.
According to River Valleys’ records, the camp served 2,667 Girl Scouts in 2009, and a total of 4,470 people including adults and non-Scouts.
River Valleys’ leaders cited financial problems, an excess of camp properties, declining interest in camping and a desire to focus on new programs as reasons for selling the three camps.
The council says there was a $2 million gap between the expenses of all of its camps and the revenue they produced in 2009. It is anticipating a $1.3 million shortfall in 2010.
See the Feb. 18 print edition of the Hudson Star-Observer for the full story.