After an arduous planning, permitting and contractor bidding process, Duncan Lodge renovations are finally moving along smartly, as the photos will show. What started as a project to install a commercial kitchen rapidly grew into a major renovation and construction project that will still retain the bones and character of the Duncan Lodge so many girls have come to love. Now slated for completion by the first of next year, the project will cost about $1.3 million dollars and will deplete the funding available so far for the renovation and expansion of Skyland Ranch.
Here's a short history of the project. When Skyland Ranch was purchased by the San Gorgonio Council in December of 2015, Duncan Lodge came complete with a kitchen. Unfortunately, that kitchen was over half a century old and the Riverside County health authorities informed us that it could not be used for the summer of 2016 Girl Scout camps. So, a top priority in the planning document for Skyland Ranch renovation was to bring in a portable commercial kitchen for the first camp season and install a new commercial kitchen in Duncan Lodge. Anyone who has been involved in construction projects can guess what happened next.
Demolishing the old kitchen revealed dozens of flaws in the building that needed to be corrected before the permit to build the new kitchen could be obtained. Included among these was installation of a new roof, removal of asbestos in walls and tiles, elimination of sleeping quarters on the second floor, replacement of wiring and plumbing, and numerous other items that needed to be brought up to current building codes. Well, the team thought, in that case we might as well move forward with the plan to demo other walls and increase the enclosed dining area to accommodate up to 200 people at a single sitting—easier to do it while everything is already under construction.
Initially the GSSGC Board of Directors authorized an $860,000 expenditure for the work to be done. Once bids were received for the work, it appeared the job might take $2 million or more. Enter Woody Wood (yes, that’s his real name), a local contractor from San Bernardino. His company, W. Wood & Associates Development, Inc., has completed major projects for camps and large recreational facilities throughout the Inland Empire. Woody understood our vision for Skyland Ranch, fell in love with the property and the Girl Scouts, and offered to do the Duncan Lodge project at a cost well under the other bids. Thanks to our forward-thinking Board, the additional funds were allocated to complete the entire project, including the dining area expansion.
Numerous other renovation projects have been undertaken and completed since GSSGC acquired Skyland Ranch, but Duncan Lodge has been the largest of those by far. Now it’s time to raise additional funds to begin renovation of the Wishaven Cabins, installation of new BIFFYs (Bathrooms in the Forest for You, or restrooms to the uninitiated), construction of new facilities and expansion of program areas. So, every new dollar will count and every donor will be honored for making the life-changing experience of camp and outdoor activities realities for more girls.