Jump to content

Va GS Camp Kitty may get reprieve

Recommended Posts






New members of a local Girl Scout administration say their landslide election last weekend might block the planned sale of a Northern Neck campground.


A developer recently offered $16 million for the property, which contains more than 3 miles of waterfront along the Great Wicomico River in Northumberland County.


Opponents of the Camp Kittamaqund sale took 17 of 18 seats that were up at the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council's annual meeting in Richmond on Saturday. The council released results yesterday of the election, which seated 18 new board of directors members and the council's secretary. The new members join 14 existing board members and council administrators whose terms had not expired.


"We've called a board meeting, and one of the purposes is to discuss the future of Camp Kitty," said Sue Swift, a Girl Scout troop leader from Reedville who was among the candidates swept into office. She is optimistic that the board will decide to keep the 387-acre camp.


"I think we can find ways to preserve and maintain the camp and not sell it," she said.


Members of the slate, who called themselves the "Evergreens," included two past council presidents and others, such as Swift, who rallied support for keeping the tract in its natural condition for tent camping, sailing and canoeing.


In November, the board of directors, citing maintenance costs and a decline in campers, voted to sell the property and eventually attracted a $16 million offer but did not act on it.


The uproar caused by Scout leaders and county residents opposed to the pristine camp being developed caused the Northumberland Board of Supervisors to tighten land-use controls at the camp and other parcels zoned for conservation in the county. New restrictions approved last month reduce from 210 to 20 the number of building lots that the camp can yield.


It remains to be seen what the new council leadership decides for the camp, which has been in the council's hands since 1964. The Evergreen slate was composed of people who either objected to the sale or disagreed with the way the board reached its sale decision without membership discussion. The council sponsors 18,000 Girl Scouts from a district that includes the Northern Neck, Fredericksburg and Richmond.


"I feel we're out of the woods -- I think it's safe," said Tracy Hamm, a Duke University graduate student and Camp Kitty alumnus who helped sale critics organize through e-mail. "This is super-exciting."


Tracy Coogle, one of the Evergreens voted onto the board, said she missed the annual meeting because she was camping with 140 girls and a couple of dozen adult leaders over the weekend.


"Cheers went up all over camp," when word of the election came in, she said. "It was the perfect place to get this news."





Contact staff writer Lawrence Latan III at llatane@timesdispatch.com or (804) 333-3461.


Link to post
Share on other sites

This article came first...interesting view of how GS councils operate...





The controversy over the planned sale of a beloved and valuable waterfront camp on the Northern Neck could factor in a Girl Scout council's elections this weekend.


Richmond-area Scout leaders opposed to the sale of Camp Kittamaqund in Northumberland County have recruited a slate of 18 alternative candidates to seek seats on the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council's board of directors.


The candidates include two past presidents of the council who have criticized the board for deciding to sell the camp without seeking the consensus of Scout leaders.


If the council's nominating committee accepts the candidates, the annual election could be a referendum over the camp's sale.


"We are offering an alternative slate called the Evergreens," said Carole Noble-Park of Richmond, who has been a Scout leader for more than 30 years.


"We've never had this many being nominated from the floor before," said Lynn Simms of Stafford County. Simms served as the council's president from 2000 to 2004. Her name is included in the alternative slate as a candidate for an at-large council seat.


She said council seats are rarely contested and are usually filled by candidates selected by a nominat- ing committee composed of board members.


About 200 voting representatives from the council's 12 associations will meet in Richmond on Saturday for the election. Each year about half of the council's 25 board seats are up for election. On even-numbered years, the council's six officers are also selected by vote.


This year, voters must choose 17 council candidates as well as fill a vacancy for council secretary.


It was unclear how many incumbent council members will seek re-election. Council spokeswoman Janice Williams declined yesterday to discuss the election, but said the council will issue a statement on Monday.


Council leadership has remained out of public view since authorizing the sale of the 387-acre camp on the Great Wicomico River late last year.


The tract of deep woods contains more than 3 miles of undisturbed tidal shoreline--a rarity on the Neck where waterfront is rapidly being converted to expensive housing developments. In one of its last statements about the camp sale, the council said in early March that it had been offered $16 million for the property.


When a group of Scout leaders and Girl Scouts held a candlelight vigil in January outside the council's Mechanicsville headquarters to protest the sale during a board meeting, the board hired security guards to keep them off council property.


Scouts opposed to the sale have received a warmer welcome at the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors. Moved by the arguments of the tearful scouts, supervisors placed a temporary development ban on land zoned for conservation, which included the camp.


This month, the supervisors tightened subdivision restrictions within the conservation zone. The measure reduces the number of lots that could be carved from Camp Kitty from 210 to 20. The council had previously warned the county that it had been "advised to consider litigation."


So far, the Board of Supervisors has not been sued, said County Administrator Kenneth Eades.


Some Scout leaders are dissatisfied with the sale on environmental grounds, arguing that the Girl Scouts have no business converting open space into housing developments. Others have questioned the need to part with a camp where three generations of girls have learned to camp, paddle canoes and explore the Chesapeake Bay by sailboat.


The board of directors, in an earlier statement, said the need to repair storm damage on the property, which is free of local real estate taxes, has made it too expensive to keep the camp.


If voting delegates choose the alternative slate, the camp sale will not necessarily be thwarted.


Pauline Cronin of Hanover County, who served as council president from 1994 to 2000, said the slate's main objective is to determine whether Scout leaders approve of the sale.


She is running for secretary on the alternative slate. Its candidates have been motivated to seek office "by the secrecy and lack of input" demonstrated so far by the current board's decision to sell, she said.


Earlier, she and other sale opponents asked the board to "please put the sale on hold until the membership could be consulted," Cronin said. "That was our only request -- and the very next day [the board] began negotiating with an unsolicited bidder."


Cronin and the other 17 alternative candidates "are all in favor of involving the membership in the [sale] decision," she said.


If Scout leaders endorse the sale, "it would be sad," Cronin said. "But, if that's the way they feel resources should be used, majority rules."



Contact staff writer Lawrence Latan III at llatane@timesdispatch.com or (804) 333-3461.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...