Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast plans to divest two of its camp properties and close one of its Milwaukee-area service center locations.
The organization recently announced it will divest Camp Pottawatomie Hills in East Troy and Camp Winding River in Neosho. It also will shift volunteer services from the New Berlin Service Center, at 21430 W. Greenfield Ave., to the Chinook Program Center, a 78-acre facility at S62 W24528 Townline Road in Waukesha. The New Berlin location will close at the end of the year.
“While we have been fortunate to have many locations available for girls to experience the outdoors, the reality is that our camps have not been operating at capacity and membership projections show that this trend will continue. Divesting two of our six camp and program centers, as well as one of three service centers, will still allow GSWISE to offer comparable camp and outdoor programming,” GSWISE said in a recent announcement.
Camp Pottawatomie Hills is a 120-acre property on Pleasant Lake that includes a large indoor facility, two separate troop spaces each with a bunk room, kitchen and activity area.
Camp Winding River is a 225-acre facility, located about 15 miles north of Oconomowoc.
The decision to close the camps were based on two third-party national camp consultants’ recommendations, which were also in line with a previous 2011 property assessment conducted as part of a long-range property plan.
The organization said it will direct the proceeds from the sale of the properties toward its “goal of reaching more girls and achieving a higher impact,” including reinvesting in remaining camp programs and properties, and the delivery of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience in southeastern Wisconsin.
The organization did not disclose how the closures will affect staff at the two properties.
The organization has been working on a “Camp Reimagined” project to enhance camp programs at its remaining four camps.
Due to COVID-19, GSWISE has not yet determined what its 2021 camp season will look like.
Since the organization announced the divesture of the camps, a group of camp directors and volunteers who are unaffiliated with GSWISE and the national Girls Scouts organization has launched an effort to retain the camps.
In a letter sent to GSWISE this week, the “Save Our Camps” organizers said selling properties is a “quick fix” to the organization’s financial challenges, not a long-term solution. The group said more than 4,000 Girl Scouts from the region attend volunteer-run day camps at Winding River and Pottawatomie Hills every summer.