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Property Updates

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Property News

We believe that all girls deserve the opportunity to participate in a collection of unique experiences that help them to discover who they are, develop important life skills, and take action to make the world a better place.

That’s why GCNWI is focused on establishing just the right mix of owned and leased properties so girls now and in the future can select from a wide variety of choices and activities that are progressive, exciting, and rewarding.

It’s an ever-evolving, strategic and thoughtful process that comes to life when we see girls flying overhead on the new zipline and adventure ropes course installed this year at Camp Butternut Springs, thanks to the generosity of Al Hanna.

To understand the history, current state and future steps of our master property plan, please read the sections below, and check back often as we add updates on our progress.

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First Take a Quick Look Back

In 2008, we inherited a large collection of properties when seven Girl Scout councils came together to form one council serving 245 communities in 10 counties (six in Illinois and four in Indiana).

After the merger GCNWI had to face some tough decisions about those 12 camp and program-related properties, as well as numerous office spaces, including some that needed extraordinary amounts of TLC. We knew we needed to do something intentional and thoughtful to keep our focus on our mission and not on endless repairs and maintenance.

The GCNWI Long Range Property Planning Committee (LRPPC) was formed at the request of our board of directors to study all our properties and make recommendations for a plan.

The LRPPC was comprised of a phenomenal group of dedicated volunteers and professionals alike who devoted hundreds of volunteer hours each over the course of nearly two years to draft an initial master property plan that best reflected our focus on current and future generations of Girl Scouts.

The members of the LRPPC made on-site visits to get an intimate look at the current state of each property. They also reviewed each property’s potential to support future programming directions, the resources located near each property, and analyzed detailed documents filled with usage statistics, anticipated costs for repairs and ADA requirements, and many other relevant financials.

Then, in 2011, GCNWI took its first steps to bring the plan to life by identifying several properties that best matched our vision for girls and volunteers now and in the future. We knew that it would be best if we concentrated our resources and energy on enhancing those properties.

That also meant embracing a decision to retire and sell several properties, a difficult but necessary process that would allow us to move forward as a council.

Our Current State

More than 10 years ago Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) diligently began work on a Master Property Plan designed to honor its pledge to “use resources wisely.”

Our vision is to invest our limited resources in a smaller number of dynamic camp properties for greater appeal to current and future girls, families, and volunteers. In addition, we are planning to utilize more local, leased options for some of our offices and program spaces, rather than owning buildings that need significant maintenance and repair.

The plan focuses on investing in four primary properties that were identified back in 2011 as key to serving our council footprint: Camp Juniper Knoll (Wisconsin), Camp Greene Wood and Camp Palos (both in Illinois), and Camp Butternut Springs (Indiana).

Due to our financial situation in the years between 2010 – 2015, no property improvements were made. Then, between 2016 – 2019, as our finances stabilized, we started to invest again. To date, GSGCNWI has invested approximately $7 million dollars into new or improved amenities at several of our properties.

Those improvements focus on enhancing girl experiences. We have added a high ropes course and zipline to Camp Butternut Springs and completed construction on two troop camping cabins which are waiting to welcome girls after the pandemic subsides. A new sewer system at BNS, downed-tree removals, painting, and numerous maintenance projects at many of our other properties have been part of ongoing efforts to keep our properties running and safe for girls and volunteers.

In fall 2019, GSGCNWI announced that we would be listing for sale several council-owned properties as part of our GSGCNWI Master Property Plan.  

All future updates will be shared and posted here.  

Friendship Center and Chicago Gathering Place

May 20, 2021

GSGCNWI Moves Forward on Master Property Plan

For more than a decade, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana have been taking steps to create a portfolio of owned and leased properties that will enable us to best serve the current and future interests of our girls, volunteers, and families in a fiscally responsible way.

Today we announce that we have closed on the sale of Friendship Center in Country Club Hills. We also have negotiated an extremely competitive deal for renewing the lease for the Chicago Gathering Place at 20 S. Clark Street.

In the months ahead, a team of volunteers and staff will seek to identify additional leased space that provides accessible services and program experiences within our 245-community footprint in Illinois and Indiana.

Leasing spaces rather than owning them will help us reduce expensive maintenance costs for buildings no longer suitable for delivering girl programs and customer service for our member families and enable us to be nimble for future needs.

These decisions and others have been guided by a Master Property Plan that was originally recommended by our Long Range Property Planning Committee and approved by our GSGCNWI Board of Directors 10 years ago.

The Long Range Property Planning Committee was comprised of geographically representative volunteers with relevant professional skills and who are passionate about their involvement in the Girl Scout Movement.

Our Master Property Plan also has guided enhancement efforts at our signature day and resident camp properties – Butternut Springs, Greene Wood, Juniper Knoll, and Palos – as well as the divestiture of several properties inherited during the 2008 consolidation of seven local councils.

More information about our Master Property Plan is available at  www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org. All inquiries and comments related to our properties may be directed to longrangeproperty@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Pokanoka and River Trails

July 20, 2021

GSGCNWI Continues on Master Property Plan Path

Girl Scouts camps are the heart and soul of our Movement. Any decision involving properties requires planning, thoughtfulness, vision, analysis, and input.

Over a span of more than 10 years, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has been taking careful and thoughtful steps to create a fabulous portfolio of owned and leased properties that will enable us to best serve the current and future interests of our girls, volunteers, and families in a fiscally responsible way. To create that desired state, some difficult decisions had to be made along the way.

Today we announce that we have signed contracts for the sale of Camp Pokanoka and Camp River Trails, two resident camps outside the footprint of our council jurisdiction, following previous announcements about our intentions to place them for sale nearly two years ago. In 2008, when seven Girl Scout councils merged together, we found ourselves with more camp properties than our council could financially support.

Streamlining our portfolio of camp properties gives us the ability to focus our resources and energies on enhancing outdoor program experiences, troop camping, and program events at several signature day and resident camps that will continue to bring great joy to our council for generations of girls into the future - Butternut Springs, Greene Wood, Juniper Knoll, and Palos.

These four signature properties represent our vision for the future and span the geographic footprint of our council from the Wisconsin border to and including northwest Indiana.

Each offers progressive and unique opportunities for the girls and adults who use them to enhance their troop and individual experiences in Girl Scouts. Collectively they offer high ropes and ziplines; cabins, tabins, platform tents, and yurts; a swimming pool, a lake, ponds for canoeing; along with miles of hiking trails in the trees and wide-open grassy meadows for games. Our day camps are close to the suburbs and our resident camps are located in less-populated areas that support progressive experiences with more high-adventure options.

Our decisions have been guided by a Master Property Plan that was originally recommended by our Long Range Property Planning Committee (LRPPC) and approved by our GSGCNWI Board of Directors 10 years ago. The LRPPC was comprised of geographically representative volunteers with relevant professional skills and who are passionate about their involvement in the Girl Scout Movement. Girl and adult member focus groups further supported those decisions.

We will host a closing ceremony and celebration at each of these camps as we draw closer to the actual sale date. Information will be posted on our website and via our social media channels. 

More information about our Master Property Plan is available at www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org. All inquiries and comments related to our properties may be directed to longrangeproperty@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Next Phase of Our Plan

With GCNWI in a financial healthy state, and a three-year strategic plan to guide our decisions, it is time for us to launch the next phase of our master property plan.

Just as before, GCNWI intends to be thoughtful and strategic about carrying out our plan, keeping our decisions focused on what’s best for current and future generations of Girl Scouts.

Our objective will be to implement a plan that will:

  • keep our focus on the evolving needs of girls
  • thoughtfully, thoroughly align to our strategic vision
  • acknowledge the council's healthy financial position
  • reflect our readiness to invest in enhanced experiences for future generations
  • transparently engage stakeholders in next steps and solutions
  • reduce our need to divert dollars to deferred maintenance issues
  • shift to leased office solutions to keep focus on mission, not repairs

All properties will continue to be open and in use until such time as the property is sold. Every effort will be made to honor existing programs and activities at those properties during what can often be a very lengthy selling process.

In the meantime, we will be forming task groups to help us consider:

  1. how to best honor and transition our properties when they sell,
  2. how to determine the best locations for new leased spaces as gathering places, and
  3. how to best incorporate our prized historical archives into the plans and make our Girl Scout history accessible to more of our members and their families.

Our plans are continuously evolving and will continue to do so as new options and opportunities present themselves. We will continue to share updates in this space and through other forms of council communication as those plans unfold.

In the meantime, if please send any questions and comments related to our properties to longrangeproperty@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Property Closing Events
Schedule:
Time Activity
10 a.m. Arrival at Camp
10:30 a.m. Welcome and Opening Flag Ceremony
11 a.m. Explore River Trails, visit the cabins, learn about the history, walk the trails
12:30 p.m. Sing around the campre, make s’mores, tell stories, make memories (Bring your own lunch)
2:15 p.m.  Gather for Closing and Retire the Flag Ceremony

No registration required. Camp River Trails t-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, patches, bandanas, and other camp swag will be available for sale during the event!

 

Take a look at an overview of the next stage of our Master Property Plan