September 9, 2008

Local Girl Scouts sell Camp Singing Hills for $7.25 million

The local Girl Scouts announced today that it has sold the former Camp Singing Hills in Walworth County for $7.25 million.

Perhaps the only thing surprising about the sale is the camp hadn't been sold sooner. The Girl Scouts of Racine County went through an arduous process (click here for a sample of the letters on the issue printed in the JT - scroll down) in 2004 in deciding to sell the property. Supporters of the camp rallied to save it, but came up short. Four years later, the Girl Scouts -- Racine County is now part of Girl Scouts of Southeast Wisconsin Inc., having merged in January with the Girl Scout Council of Kenosha County, the Girl Scouts of Milwaukee Area and the Great Blue Heron Council in New Berlin -- followed through on the 2004 decision.

Here's a real estate listing for the 166-acre property (no price is listed).

Here's the official release from the Girl Scouts:

On Thursday, September 4, the Camp Singing Hills property, located in the town of LaGrange in Walworth County, was officially sold by Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, Inc. (GSWISE).

The sale marks the end of a long-range plan adopted in 2004 by the legacy council, Girl Scouts of Racine County. It also ensures that council resources are being used wisely in order to best serve its members.

Camp Singing Hills has been closed since 2003 and was originally offered up for sale in 2004 as part of a long-range plan set by GSRC’s board of directors. Research indicated that girls were more interested in adventure and travel opportunities than the rustic resident camp experiences that Camp Singing Hills could offer. More than $2 million would have been needed to make structural and mechanical upgrades to make the site more in line with girls’ needs. The declining income, resulting from substantially lower attendance, could simply not keep up with operating costs.

As part of the Core Business Strategy of the national Girl Scout organization, the four southeastern Wisconsin councils legally joined to form one high-capacity council, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, on January 2, 2008. The new council inherited the properties of all four southeastern Wisconsin councils, including Camp Singing Hills, which at the time, still had not been sold. GSWISE’s action of selling the property is honoring the decision made by the legacy Girl Scouts of Racine County board of directors who originally determined the need to sell the site. The reasons that led to the original decision, which were identified through a due diligence process by the legacy council, are still valid today.

"Proceeds from the sale will be safely invested until the board conducts a strategic plan and decisions are made regarding how best to invest these monies for the benefit of the girl membership. We anticipate about $800,000 will be used to pay the debt for the Trefoil Oaks Program Center building and the Girl Scout Racine Service Center building," said Joan Shafer, Board Chair for GSWISE.

Regarding the sale, Molly T. Fuller, Chief Executive Officer for GSWISE said, "We are strongly committed to using the funds from the Camp Singing Hills sale to further support quality programming for our girl members, in keeping our long-standing tradition of using resources wisely.

The sale of the property opens the door for Girl Scouting to respond to current trends and needs of girls in our council. I am proud of the fact that our council can offer such an incredible diversity of properties to meet the needs and interests of today’s girls. Owning over 1,000 acres, representing seven program centers including two resident camps, GSWISE is in the perfect position to upgrade our facilities as it becomes necessary."

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