Just two years after potential closure, Camp Wendy is preparing to celebrate 100 years since being founded in 1923.
Camp Wendy is a part of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, a Girl Scout organization that encompasses the seven lower counties of New York, including Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan, Orange, Westchester, Putnam and Rockland. Camp Wendy specifically can be found on St. Elmo Road in Wallkill, and Volunteer for Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson Erica Darcy describes it as “a storybook that’s nestled into the foothills of the Shawangunks.”
The site is all of 56 acres with a large lake, trails and the famous Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson Archive Museum. Interestingly enough, the camp is themed after Peter Pan.
For all of these different camps in various municipalities to function, there are large councils within the Girl Scout organization.
“About 18 years ago, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (GSUSA) created this concept of super councils to try to preserve Girl Scouting and utilize secured resources and things like that. They created these large councils from smaller ones,” said Darcy.
Darcy also explained that two years ago, Camp Wendy was one of their 18 properties that was being put up for sale as part of a property plan. This, clearly, did not happen, thanks to new leadership.
“Our membership was not pleased with that [selling the property] and were able to vote in a new board president and the old CEO resigned. So, we have entirely new leadership that is very camp-friendly and very camp focused. The membership was able to democratically save our camp,” Darcy mentioned.
Darcy and others, including fellow volunteer Donna Egan, are heavily involved in revitalizing the camp.
“It was a Girl Scout camp for almost 100 years, but it’s more recently been rested. So it’s still used by the Girl Scouts for lots of activities that are more troop-focused or service-unit focused,” said Egan.
The property was originally donated by Marion Borden of the Borden Family to the Girl Scouts to use. “What we’ve got in the archives is that Marion allowed girls to start camping on the property in 1923. It did not come to the Girl Scouts until her death, officially,” Darcy added.
That being said, they’re looking to celebrate 100 years during the last week of September. Though it’s preliminary, the committee has plans to host an alumni campfire, Girl Scout history activities, a girl fest and a gala. There, of course, will be plenty more, and while Saturday is dedicated to alum, and girlfest for Girl Scouts, the public is invited to attend the gala. These events will be held Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30.
“We’re hoping to have the community come out and support this beautiful storybook property. The girlfest is a registered Girl Scout event. Of course it is open to all registered Girl Scouts, even those not in our area. That’s a special event for them,” said Darcy.
As for their goals for the camp, Darcy explained that they’d like to update it. This includes plumbing, trail work, safety measures and more.
“A number of the units have deteriorated over the last few years. We have a core group of volunteers that are doing that kind of work. We’d love to have more volunteers for drill work and things like that as we spiffy the place up,” Darcy stated.
Of course, if possible, they’d love to get it back to a fun, full-functioning summer camp.
“The short answer is yes, we would love to have the camp as a full-scale overnight summer camp again, that would be our ultimate goal, but we’re kind of starting from scratch,” Egan added.
In the meanwhile, the Girl Scout committee is going to work on preparing for a weekend of fun, with longstanding hopes to bring Camp Wendy back to life.
“The end goal is to have functional beautiful spaces for our girls,” said Darcy.