December 6, 2013
Board of Directors Announcement:
Resting Camp DeWitt Day Camp in 2014 to Revitalize Program Update
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Nancy Faulks and Lydia Whitefield of the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ) Board of Directors met with GSHNJ members Nathan Rudy, Susan Tomasko Lacerda, Heather Mackersie Trumpore and Nancy Pierro, to discuss recent operational decisions regarding resting the day camp program at Camp Dewitt in 2014 and reopening with a revitalized program in 2015.
We understand the initial communication of this decision was not clear and apologize for the confusion and concern that grew out of it. In your letters, on the Facebook page and from our service unit leaders we heard your frustration, and are committed to improving our engagement with the GSHNJ community from this point forward.
The beginning of this process was the meeting mentioned above where we had a lengthy and detailed conversation about Camp Dewitt and Girl Scout Heart of New Jersey. The GSHNJ members offered significant support and energy to Council staff to maintain a day camp program in 2014, and offered excellent reasons why this would help our goal of improving Camp Dewitt for the long term.
Board Chair Nancy Faulks brought this offer of additional resources to the staff and asked if the decision to rest the camp for 2014 could be revisited. After much consideration and internal discussion, the Council staff concluded there is insufficient time between now and summer 2014 to create camp programming at the quality standard expected. They feared that a substandard program would continue the recent year-over-year decline in attendance that left Camp Dewitt at 53 percent of capacity last summer.
As a result, Girl Scout Heart of New Jersey has reaffirmed its decision to rest the day camp at Camp DeWitt in 2014, and re-open with revitalized and new programs in 2015. Our commitment is to make Camp Dewitt a world-class Girl Scout camp that will serve our girls for many years to come.
We understand this decision is disappointing, but hope you will take the energy you brought to the 2014 decision and help us in our efforts for 2015 to properly address the many program and operational issues we face. To make this happen we need to marshal all our resources over the next 18 months.
The past few weeks have been the first step in engaging with the parents of our campers and the leaders of our troops. We are committed to continuing and expanding that engagement. In fact, we do not believe that Camp Dewitt can be successful without this renewed engagement and partnerships.
At the suggestion of Heather Trumpore, the first meeting will revolve around focus groups. It will be held in mid-January and will be a joint effort of staff and volunteers. The mission of this research will be to help identify critical program and operational issues at Camp DeWitt. Once these issues are identified, teams will be established. We will announce a date and time in the coming weeks, and ask for volunteers to participate in that focus session. We will seek as diverse a panel as possible.
In February 2014 the staff will recruit volunteers to work on several committees to: develop the strategic long-term vision for the camp; provide feedback on programs that have and haven’t worked in the past; and build communications and marketing programs to help spread the word about Camp Dewitt. Other teams will be established if research dictates a team effort.
When the call goes out for volunteers, we hope those who have expressed an interest in Camp DeWitt will step up and be part of this re-design effort. Thanks to everyone who cares about the future of Camp DeWitt, and look forward to working with you to create a great camp season at DeWitt in 2015 and beyond.
Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact council via firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Directors
Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey
Camp DeWitt will continue to run council programs and be available for troop camping and overnights. For more information, please visit the links below: