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The Long Range Property Plan

We are very excited to share with you our Long Range Property Plan for our Council. This plan will help the Council deliver its mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character through a sustainable and realistic property strategy that will capitalize on current market opportunities while building to support the current and future needs of girls.

Today we have thirteen camp properties in Connecticut.  Many of these properties are well-loved and have served girls for many years - but we have not always invested in them as we should. GSOFCT would need to spend nearly $5M in deferred maintenance costs to bring all thirteen properties up to modern standards.
 
We want to make smart choices about our resources and how best to support girls and future membership. That is why we have developed a long-range property plan so that we can focus our resources on creating the best outdoor experiences possible. 

Please take a look at the interactive brochure below and use the online questionnaire to share your thoughts and ideas for the future of our camps. The questionnaires will close on October 15, 2021.

The Long Range Property Plan focuses on serving all of Connecticut's girls by investing in camps aligned with projected population growth.  Through this plan, we will reach girls in underserved communities and serve our membership for decades to come. 

The Council will invest in properties that are easier to access for most of our members and provide transportation from population hubs to our camp properties.

GSOFCT properties will offer experiences that promote the four pillars of Girl Scouting, inspire healthy risk-taking, and offer a safe place for exploration and friendship.  Amenity upgrades include modernizing bathrooms, new yurts and sleeping accommodations, pools for girls of all abilities, pavilions, ropes courses, and more!

In March 2021, GSOFCT hosted information sessions to share details and answer your questions. Additionally, we will have opportunities for members, particularly girls, to help us make important choices when investing in upgrades as part of the property master plans.

For regular updates, please visit the Progress and Updates tab below. We hope you are as excited as we are for the future of camping and outdoor experiences for all girls in Connecticut.

 


 

Learn More:

Progress & Updates (Updated 10.7.2021)
Our Long Range Property Plan is underway and we have many exciting updates to share!

- New Updates - 

Katoya Property

●     Membership Planning Meeting - GSOFCT met with adult membership in Milford on Thursday, Sep. 30, 2021 to discuss the proposed sale of the Katoya property and answer questions from membership. More than thirty adult members from Milford and surrounding service units attended the meeting.

●     The Katoya property consists of three parcels, one of which is deed restricted. Sale of the deed-restricted parcel requires approval by a 2/3 majority vote from currently registered adult members residing in Milford. The purpose of the Sep. 30 meeting was to provide adult membership in Milford with detailed information so they can make an informed decision during the voting process. A vote to enable the sale of Katoya will be scheduled at a later date.

●     Important details from the meeting include:

○     Milford Girl Scouts is a strong service unit with active area membership. However, GSOFCT has experienced a moderate membership decline over recent years that has been impacted further by the Covid-19 pandemic.

○     The income derived from summer camp attendance does not outweigh the combined annual expenses required to run camp, the cost to maintain facilities and infrastructure, and the annual property depreciation.

○     All GSOFCT properties were analyzed by Newmark, a third-party vendor, using the following criteria: financial stability, use potential, competitive advantage, effective operations, physical layout, and ability to expand.

○     Of the three properties in the Fairfield/Bridgeport/New Haven areas, AnSeOx and Aspetuck have higher usage rates by troops, Service Units, and summer camp. The Katoya property is in need of significant investment to re-open, is limited by the topography, and the pre-pandemic usage is comparatively lower than the other two properties.

○     GSOFCT is committed to using our resources wisely to support the current and future needs of girls. The Long Range Property Plan reflects this commitment to a sustainable and realistic property strategy by capitalizing on current market opportunities and high property values.

○     Proceeds from property sales will be used to execute the LRPP (the Long Range Property Plan and Master Plan) at remaining GSOFCT properties, support the Transportation and Innovation funds to increase access across the state, and be invested in property maintenance. A portion of the proceeds from property sales will be spent immediately. The remainder of the funds will be invested in order to provide an annual income stream that will be used to fund ongoing property costs and future improvements under the Long Range Property Plan for years to come.

○     GSOFCT is exploring opportunities to work with the Trust for Public Land ( https://www.tpl.org/) - Potential buyers could possibly include the town of Milford or local Land Trust. GSOFCT is exploring options for a potential camp to purchase the property as well and is committed to finding the best buyer option for Girl Scouts going forward.

●     GSOFCT CEO, Diana Mahoney, is available to meet one-on-one or in small groups with members to provide more detailed information upon request.

 

Engagement Session Feedback

●     Attendees at the Laurelei Letterboxing Weekend on September 25 had the opportunity to offer feedback during sessions hosted by the GSOFCT Property team, our hired master planners, SLR, and hired architects, Patriquin Architects. Feedback gathered was consistent with the summer camp session results, including an emphasis on amenities like bathrooms and electricity, privacy and cleanliness in overnight accommodations, updated cooking facilities and improved activity areas.

 

Website Questionnaire

●     Final Chance for Submissions - Members are invited to fill out the property questionnaire before it closes on October 15, 2021. Share your thoughts as we plan for the future of our GSOFCT properties!

 

 

- Previous Updates - 

Katoya Property

●     Membership Planning Meeting - GSOFCT is hosting a meeting for the adult Milford membership to discuss the proposed sale of the Katoya property on Thursday, Sep. 30, 2021 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at Fowler Field Rotary Pavilion, 1 Shipyard Lane, Milford, CT. Please bring a chair with you. Families welcome. To RSVP, please call 800-922-2770.

●     The Katoya property consists of three parcels, one of which is deed restricted.  Sale of the deed-restricted parcel requires approval by a 2/3 majority vote by the adult membership in Milford.

●     To date, several meetings have taken place with Milford volunteers and the Mayor of Milford to share details of the LRPP and to answer questions from membership.

●     The Katoya property sale would help fund planned improvements to GSOFCT properties, including AnSeOx, Aspetuck, Merrie-Wood and Yankee Trails, as part of the Long-Range Property Plan. The goal of this plan is to provide properties that are well maintained, with newly constructed areas such as amphitheaters, cooking shelters, new sleeping areas and updated program areas for archery, boating and swimming activities. Proceeds from property sales will also support an Innovation Fund to provide outdoor programming throughout the state, especially in areas where GSOFCT are centrally located, and a Transportation Fund to help girls reach properties throughout the year including for service unit events, troop camping and summer camp. The capacity for each property will increase, allowing members access to year-round facilities.

Website Questionnaire

●     We want to hear from our membership! Please take the time to fill out the online questionnaire before the property survey closes on October 15, 2021 and share your thoughts on the future of all GSOFCT properties including An-Se-Ox, Aspetuck, Merrie-Wood and Yankee Trails.

Property Investment Plan

●     GSOFCT is committed to being transparent throughout the execution of the approved Long-Range Property Plan and to share financial information and allocation of the funds generated from property sales.

●     The GSOFCT Board of Directors has approved the 2021-2022 operating budget including the use of sale proceeds.   

● Approx. 1/3 of the total proceeds from properties sold during FY21 will be invested back into properties throughout FY22

●    The remaining approx. 2/3 will be invested to fund future Improvements along with annual maintenance, additional transportation and innovation

By investing a portion of the property proceeds we are planning for a future in which the properties we operate are maintained, accessible, and used for many years to come.

● SLR, our Master Planners, is in the process of creating site plans for the future of the AnSeOx, Aspetuck, Merrie-Wood and Yankee Trails.  The following are actions currently funded:

● A new accessible pool at AnSeOx, including showers/changing rooms

● New yurt at AnSeOx

● New Amphitheater at Aspetuck

● New Cook Shelters at AnSeOx

● Update the Inges Haus Pavilion at Merrie-Wood to provide a cooking area

● Expansion of the Archery area at AnSeOx

● Purchase two 4-wheel drive camp vehicles to assist in maintaining properties

● Convert Yankee Trails to a resident camp.

● Funding for future property investments in 2023 and beyond will come from additional planned property sales, improved results from ongoing business, other revenue generation ideas and expected returns on the portion of property sales that will be invested in the Endowment.

● Our overarching goal for these investments is to continue to support GSOFCT properties and membership in years to come rather than covering operating expenses in the short term and to increase spending in transportation, innovation and programs as we move forward in the long-range property plan execution.

Candlewood Property

●     Sale Closing - The previously announced sale of Candlewood was finalized on September 7, 2021. The $8.3M in proceeds generated by the sale will be allocated to priority projects and property improvements as outlined in the Property Investment Plan above and according to the master plan for all GSOFCT properties.

●     Closing Campfire - The closing ceremony for Candlewood was held on Sunday, August 29, 2021. Thank you to all who attended and shared camp memories, s’mores, and songs at this special celebration.

Master Planning Membership Engagement

  • Fireside Chats - A total of sixteen virtual and on-site Fireside Chats were offered throughout June and July 2021 to discuss the Long-Range Property Plan. Unfortunately, GSOFCT received very low registration from membership resulting in the cancellation of all but two of these programs.
  • Summer Outreach - GSOFCT gathered feedback during in-person workshops with Camp Laurel resident campers, day campers and staff, Camp An-Se-Ox day campers and staff, plus a virtual session with the CEO Advisory Board in July and August 2021. The input received from these sessions is being used to further establish priorities and develop the master plan for all GSOFCT properties.
  • Upcoming Engagement Opportunities - Laurelei’s Letterboxing Weekend at Camp Laurel on September 25 and the Volunteer Development Conference at Camp AnSeOx on October 2 will offer additional opportunities to offer feedback on the master plan. Mark your calendars now. Members are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas for the future of these camps - we want to hear from YOU!
  • Website Questionnaires - An online  questionnaire is available for An-Se-Ox, Aspetuck, Merrie-Wood and Yankee Trails. If you can’t make an in-person session please take the time to fill out the questionnaire. The questionnaires will close on October 15, 2021.

Camp Candlewood

  • Closing Campfire - Girl Scouts of Connecticut will host a closing campfire to honor the legacy of Camp Candlewood on Sunday, August 29th, 3:00-5:00 PM. Please join us on this special day to share memories and reconnect. This is open to Girl Scout troops, individuals and families.  RSVP by noon on August 26th via Doubleknot.  Everyone is encouraged to carpool as limited parking is available.
  • Reservations - The anticipated closing date for the sale of Camp Candlewood is August 30, 2021. Once the buyer takes ownership, they plan to survey the property in greater detail and will develop a scheduling system for reservations that will be available to GSOFCT members sometime in 2022. Once the reservation system is in place, that information will be posted here.

Camp An-Se-Ox

- In-Progress -

  • New Pool and Pool House - Replacing the current pool at Camp An-Se-Ox is a high-priority project. GSOFCT has solicited quotes from pool designers and is in the process of interviewing pool contractors. Construction is expected to begin in November 2021, however this timeline may be affected by a significant delay in the availability of building materials. More information to come. Design plans for a Year-Round Pool Bath House that will include shower/toilet bath facilities are being created now and will be part of this project.

- Coming Soon -

  • Cook Shelter - Our hired architect, Patriquin, is also creating design plans for a fully accessible cook shelter. We anticipate construction will take place at An-Se-Ox this fall.

Camp An-Se-Ox | Completed

  • Bouldering wall – the Bouldering Wall is completed at the entrance of camp. This wall can be used without a facilitator. See guidance, HERE, view Page 54. This update will provide an element of adventure to allow for girls of all ages to get acquainted with wall holds and move onto larger courses in the future. 
  • Nurses Station – the Nurses Station at the rear of the Camp Office aka The Hub has been completed. The new addition allows for the Camp nurse to be near the main office, more privacy and allows for more program space in the Main Lodge. The outside area will also have a large private bathroom to utilize.
  • Sling Shot Range – An-Se-Ox has a new Sling Shot Range! Thanks to the nearly 150 students from Hopkins School who assisted with building the sling shot range, donating supplies, picnic tables, and helping GSOFCT get ready for camp.

Camp An-Se-Ox | Coming Soon

  • Deck/Yurts – a woman-owned company was selected as the vendor for purchasing the yurt at Camp An-Se-Ox. Weather/permit pending, the deck should be built late July/early August. Yurts will be designed to sleep up to 22 people.
  • Water Floats –water floats are being researched to find the best feature(s) for our Resident camp.

Property Clean-Up

  • 150 volunteers from VOYA assisted with property clean-up over three days at Yankee, Laurel, and Merrie-Wood. Thanks to their hard work cleaning, painting, raking, spreading mulch, etc., we were able to successfully prepare the properties for summer camp.

Camp Candlewood

  • Sales Agreement – a sales agreement has been signed for $9M with an anonymous buyer who is committed to preserving as a camp and open space. We successfully negotiated a clause in the agreement which guarantees GSOFCT the opportunity to use the property free of charge for at least five years after the closing date (tentatively scheduled for August 2021). A slightly higher offer from a developer was declined.  We believe that the best outcome for Girl Scouts is to have the property remain as a camp and green space.
  • Closing Campfire – we will be hosting a closing campfire mid-August to honor Camp Candlewood.  If you are interested in helping plan this event, please reach out to CustomerCare@gsofct.org with an email titled “Closing Campfire for Camp Candlewood.” 

Broker Selected
GSOFCT has engaged with William Pitt Sotheby's International to list the Wilton Office, Camp Katoya, and Candlewood.

Camp Iwaktwa
Camp Iwaktwa was sold on March 30, 2021. The neighbors purchased the property with the intent to renovate the property to its original integrity. Although their full plan is not fully complete, the Camp will enjoy the much needed love and attention.

Transportation Update
Bus routes have been added to: East Lyme, New London, and Norwich which will provide transportation to Laurel Day camp Summer 2021. Registration will be opening soon.

Master Planning
An updated contract is under review and planned to be signed by mid-April.

Fireside Chats
Fireside Chats are being planned now and we want to hear your voice! Be sure to continue to check our website for opportunities to attend one of 16 Fireside Chats which will be held at Camp Yankee Trails, Anseox, Merrie-Wood and Aspetuck. There will be four chats held per camp – two virtual and two in person. Attendees will use Arc GIS Story Maps for storyboard planning sessions. In person sessions will be on a weekend and a week night to accommodate different schedules. Virtual chats will also be scheduled to ensure it can accommodate as many members as possible. More information to come.

Girl Led Property Task Force
GSOFCT reached out to a potential girl leader and is awaiting her response on acceptance of this role.

Girl Led Innovation Task Force
Confirmed girl leader has accepted the role to lead this effort and is currently working with GSOFCT’s Chief Mission Delivery and Inclusion Officer to get started.

Coming Soon! A guide for outdoor programing in local communities.
Long Range Property Plan Presentation
Click Here to view the presentation on the Long Range Property Plan.
Watch the full length recording of the meeting below:
- Long Range Property Plan Meeting | Thursday, March 11 | Video
- Long Range Property Plan Meeting | Thursday, March 18 | Video
Presentation by Newmark
Click here to view the Newmark Webinar | Video
FAQs
  • Why are we doing this and why now?

These were difficult decisions to make, and we did not do so lightly. But we felt responsible to consolidate our properties into ones that would be outstanding and help GSOFCT be successful in the years to come.

Today it is expensive to maintain what we have. Also, it would require more resources than available to bring every camp up to the level of experience required to attract the number of girls needed to be financially sustainable in the long term. 

We have a rare window of opportunity to take advantage of rising property values in Connecticut due to the pandemic. If we monetize these assets at peak valuation today, we can use that money to fund investments in the properties where we can grow tomorrow. 

  • Which properties are affected?

We have evaluated our current properties and made a plan about what to sell, exit, keep, move, and invest in.  Going forward, we plan to sell:  

  • Candlewood  
  • Katoya 

We plan to exit Carlson, which is a deed restricted property not owned by GSOFCT. 

We will move the Camp Laurel program to Yankee Trails which we will develop as a premier destination for resident camp for all girls in Connecticut.  Once Yankee Trails is operational, we will sell Laurel. 

We will use a portion of the proceeds from the sales to fund improvements at:  

  • An-Se-Ox (which will become a camp focused on accommodating girls of all abilities) 
  • Aspetuck 
  • Merrie-Wood 

And again, Yankee Trails which will become our premier destination resident camp in the state.  

We will continue to maintain Rocky Craig while we study and evaluate this property.  We will keep you updated as changes occur and decisions are made. We will also have feedback opportunities to hear from our membership, particularly girls, on the enhancements they would like to see at our upgraded camps as we finalize the master plans.  

  • Why did you choose those camps?

GSOFCT, with the support of the Board of Directors, engaged Newmark a commercial real estate firm with a deep understanding of Girl Scout properties and practices across the country. Newmark evaluated GSOFCT's real estate, looked a population demographics and trends, and worked with the board to design a plan that aligns with our strategic goals.

  • Why are we planning to sell so many camps so quickly?

We have a rare window of opportunity to take advantage of rising property values in Connecticut due to the pandemic. If we monetize these assets at peak valuation today, we can use that money to fund investments in the properties where we can grow tomorrow.

  • How can I be a part of determining what new upgrades will happen at An-Se-Ox, Aspetuck, Merrie-wood and Yankee Trails?

As we move forward with the master plans for each property, we will create input sessions for members, particularly girls, to share their ideas for what improvements and attractions will be most appealing at our camp properties.  

  • Who is the Newmark company that conducted the study? What do they know about camps in Connecticut?

Newmark is a commercial real estate firm with a deep understanding of Girl Scout properties and practices across the country. Newmark has worked with a number of other Councils to successfully plan and execute long range property plans. Newmark evaluated GSOFCT's real estate, looked a population demographics and trends, and worked with Council leadership and the board to design a plan that aligns with our strategic goals in Connecticut.

  • When will I no longer be able to make a reservation at Camp Candlewood or any of the other effected camps?

Currently, reservations for Candlewood will remain open.  Until we have a buyer for the property we will continue to honor site reservations.

  • Why are you still evaluating Rocky Craig on whether to keep or sell and when will that decision be made?

There are a number of factors that impact the future of Rocky Craig.  At this point we do not have any specific information on when a decision will be made but we will report to the community when we know more.

  • When will the improvements at the camps begin and how soon? What specifically will the improvements be?

We have some early momentum.  This fall you might remember that we sold Camp Pattagansett.  We are excited to share that those funds will be used for improvements this year! The revenue from that sale will fund the following improvements beginning in April:

  • Low Rope Elements at Camp Merrie-Wood 
  • Water Features for resident camp  
  • Additional Sleeping Areas Yurt/Cabin/Update Tents at Merrie-Wood, Aspetuck, and AnSeOx
  • Begin the planning for a zero entry pool at AnSeOx for girls of all abilities

Looking ahead we have some great changes that will continue to enhance our camps.

Other planned improvements include:

  • Update Hartford Office to include additional program space/elements and innovative spaces
  • Amphitheater at Camp Aspetuck 
  • Update Inges Haus to include a cooking area at Camp Merrie-Wood 
  • Cook Shelter at Camp AnSeOx   
  • Build new zero entry pool/shower house at Camp AnSeOx
  • Update Conway Cabin to host Wilton Staff and additional program and retail spaces

These upgrades give us the opportunity to host events all year round for interested groups at these properties. 

 

But these aren’t all that will be done.  The feedback from our girls and our members will help shape the future of other improvements and we look forward to hearing your ideas in those focus groups. 

  • Are we running summer camp at Camp Laurel this summer?

Yes, we plan to operate summer camp at Laurel this year and until Yankee Trails is ready to open as the new resident camp.  When that happens the programs from Laurel will move to Yankee Trails

  • Will we have a closing ceremony for each camp that is sold and how will I find out about it?

Yes, we know it is important to say goodbye.  As closing campfires are scheduled events will be posted in Double Knot and shared in e-newsletters.

  • Why are we moving resident programming to Yankee Trails instead of keeping it at Laurel?

Laurel does not offer growth potential. The infrastructure needed to provide modern facilities that our membership requested are not able to be obtained at Camp Laurel. However, Yankee Trails’ current infrastructure has this ability and has expansive growth potential to include new buildings and modern facilities needed to run a premier resident camp destination.