It’s been a little over a year since Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio took, possession of Camp Skyland Ranch and celebrated with the ribbon cutting ceremony. Since that time we’ve made significant progress toward our goal of achieving full utilization of this special property for the benefit of our Girl Scouts, and other children and adults in the Inland Empire. Kudos to our Board Finance Committee and Properties Committee for making the purchase of Camp Skyland Ranch possible and for ensuring that the resources are available for its maintenance, renovation and expansion.
One of our first moves was to ensure that the right team was in place to guide and maintain Camp Skyland Ranch and the new planned projects. Our Properties Director, Ken Mortensen, brings to this task over 20 years of camp management experience. His depth of knowledge and his contacts within the County of Riverside and in the trades provides invaluable support for Skyland. Our council was fortunate to retain the services of Ranger Ron Sabala, who joined our staff after several years working at Skyland Ranch for the Los Angeles council. Joining Ron is another of our fabulous rangers, Ken Muscarella, who is now dedicated to Camp Skyland Ranch.
Legacy Counts, our capital campaign to fund the first phase of camp renovation and expansion, raised nearly $1.8 million during its first year—known in the fund development world as the “quiet phase.” Now we’re asking everyone to participate and help us achieve the $3 million goal AND BEYOND!! Soon we hope to announce new, major donors and describe naming opportunities for major gifts.
Last summer, after only six short months, Camp Skyland Ranch was open for business again as a Girl Scout camp with robust programming—including horse camps. New corrals were constructed in an area of the property apart from where campers eat and sleep. A mobile commercial kitchen was brought in to serve camp, since the Duncan Lodge kitchen could not be used by order of Riverside County and was demolished in preparation for installation of a new kitchen.
Skyland has hosted several events and programs in the past two months. Earlier this month we had about 600 girls at Camp Skyland Ranch for a glow party—a Product Sales reward event. The girls absolutely loved Skyland. Weekend camps are a big hit, including recent themed camps featuring Harry Potter and Medieval Times. Camp Stitches will be coming near the end of April.
We have yet to construct new sleeping cabins—though several are planned in the coming years—but camp capacity has been increased by the introduction of new bunks and sleeping configurations in the Wish Haven cabins. That will help meet the demand for camp programs this summer. About 90% of the girls signing up so far are doing horses, but we are also offering a handful of the themed camps. Consider donating a partial or full campership this year. No girl in need has been denied camp because of financial need in the past five years and we want to maintain this tradition. You can go to the Donate page and memo your gift “Campership.”
We finally obtained permits and approval for the new commercial kitchen and for the Duncan Lodge remodeling. We lost some time from our planned schedule with the County of Riverside permit process, but are still aiming to have the kitchen up and running when summer camp begins. Of course our portable commercial kitchen will remain on site until the new kitchen opens. From planning through completion, the Duncan Lodge project alone will cost nearly $1 million. But the result will be a superb, state-of-the-art structure and kitchen that retains Duncan Lodge’s original character and charm.