2012 Annual Meeting Round Robin Presentation Q & A’s Strategic Learning & Outdoor Facilities Planning
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How will GSNI-M continue to grow community presence? Community presence will be a priority for GSNI-M for at least the next three years. We are looking at creative ways to increase our presence throughout the geographic areas of the council. With marketing, advancement and mission delivery we continue to hone our understanding of what ‘community presence’ means. It might be as simple as making sure that girls are wearing uniforms when doing take action projects in their communities.
Has GSNI-M considered non-traditional schools/home school girl recruitment? We agree with this comment. We need to establish a recruiting strategy for girls in non-traditional schools and home school programs.
How can volunteers make suggestions? The ‘Rants and Raves’ portion of the website is intended as a place for volunteers to send us their suggestions and kudos. We are always open to letters and phone calls as well. The service unit structure also serves as another means to communicate with council staff. Speak with any person on your service team to find out the best way or most appropriate staff person to work with.
What activities do you plan to do to keep 4 thru 8 graders involved more with Girl Scouts? This is an excellent question. We plan to leverage GSUSA’s national program portfolio to help us with the diverse interests of this age group. Some examples would include our virtual pathway and innovative events for older girls.
A comment was made regarding a lack of engagement with the west side of the GSNI-M council, our response to that concern: We are very concerned about the perception that any area of the council is less supported than another. All GSNI-M members can receive ‘Connections’ our monthly newsletter either via email or from the website. All members also have access to our website, and receive updates through their service unit managers and the service unit structure.
Will there be more on-line trainings? On-line trainings for volunteers is part of our strategic vision.
We need to get back to the tradition in Girl Scouting! We often get this question, but tradition has never really left Girl Scouting. We still have friendship circles, we still state a promise, we still promote SWAPS and more! If you check out the new Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, “Legacy Badges” are part of the program, allowing girls to check in with those traditions. To find out more about traditions in Girl Scouting, please check out the following link http://www.girlscouts.org/program/basics/traditions/. Also, consider this quote from our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, when she was asked to comment on Girl Scouting early in its history…“I realize that each year it has changed and grown until I know that, a decade from now, what I might say of it would seem like an echo of what has been instead of what is.”
Where does the money come from to fund Strategic Learning? Strategic Learning is a part of our ongoing operations providing GSNI-M staff and volunteers with the priorities to focus on for the next three years. It is similar to strategic planning in any for profit or not for profit organization. Funding for this activity and the associated priorities will come from the same sources as our current operating revenue. One of the key priorities will be to diversify funding sources.
Will there be more support for recruitment and retention to the Service units, especially financial? Recruiting and retention continue to be important to GSNI-M. If you have interesting and exciting ideas for recruiting please work with your pathway specialist.
Does increased emphasis on non-troop pathways mean a reduction in emphasis on troop pathways? Absolutely not! The majority of our membership are members of troops and we expect that to continue. We will continue to allocate a majority of our resources both financial and human in the support of the troop pathway.
How can we create more ways for volunteers, staff to communicate over the geographical area of the GSNI-M Council? One of the key priorities is defining and implementing ways for staff and volunteers to stay in touch without the need to travel. Advancements in technology will aid us in this endeavor.
Are we really reaching new people though our recruitment efforts? Absolutely! This year over 4000 new girls have joined Girl Scouting. This means, over 38% of the current membership are new girls! As we continue to increase our membership, new girls will always be an important part of our recruitment efforts, just as retaining girls is very important too!
What is the desired level of funding from public (non product sales) sources? Healthy NFP’s have a diverse base of public funding for up to 80% of their revenue.
In what way are we working toward diversity in volunteers, girls and employees? Diversity is always a consideration in our workforce planning. Additionally, we have hired a Pathway Specialist who is focused solely on increasing both girl and adult membership diversity.
Do you plan to do more programs away from service centers and camps? No, we intend to make greater use of the properties the council currently owns. If space needs dictate and in the interest of offering programs to a variety of geographical locations, we may consider use of non-council owned properties.
Where is a list of Council and GSUSA contacts? There is a list of Council and GSUSA contacts in the VERB, but over time that information may become outdated. Contact information is available for both GSNIM and GSUSA on their respective websites. These resources would provide the most up to date contact information.
Outdoor Property Planning
Several were made concerning the sale of previously owned properties, our response to those questions: Through the property alignment process the direction was to reduce the number of properties owned by the council, right-sizing our property portfolio and to ultimately invest in the right number of properties given the size of our membership and financial resources. Along with that direction was the recommendation to complete master site plans for the remaining properties.
Expansion plans for resident camp: (this is in regards to the Wildwood was a resident camp at one time, don’t sell the property short comment) In an effort not to duplicate services and opportunities across the entire property portfolio, the direction recommended by the property consultant was to focus residential camping opportunities at Camp Ella J. Logan. While there are plans to include a variety of housing options on each property, for troop, group and day camping, our focus for resident camping opportunities will be at Camp Ella J. Logan.
Will a list of certified facilitators be available to interested parties including troop leaders? We are in the process of creating a list of certified facilitators as well as the process by which facilitators can be contacted. In the interim, for special activities please contact Carrie Olinger, Camp Pathways Specialist at 800-283-4812 X 136.
Do any of the camps cater to animal care? Our plan is to continue to expand the equestrian program at Camp Ella J. Logan. Our equestrian program includes activities during which the girls learn to care for the horses as well as to learning to ride. We have no further plans for animal care programming.
Rental costs for outside groups are prohibitive and need to be reassessed and fees should be kept low for Girl Scouts use of the properties, how can the council do this? We are in the process of reevaluating the fee structure for all of our properties and the fee structures will always favor GS use.
When will these improvements be completed and how will they be funded? The plans are long range plans, meaning five to ten years. Our ability to complete the plans will be contingent on our ability to raise the funds necessary for completion. The board of directors and its finance committee are currently considering our first priorities for investment and the associated timeline. Use of monies from the sale of properties and a capital campaign are likely sources of funding.
How will these plans be shared with the general membership? The Master site plans and associated information will be available on the council website in the next month.
Will we have educationally focused programming available? Some of the changes to the properties will be educationally focused however, we need to be careful that camp does not become like school. Girls just want to have fun and camps provide the perfect and secure place to have it.
Can we offer educational programs to outside groups? The primary focus for our properties is and will continue to be use by troops and other Girl Scout groups in our council. On occasion, we may rent our properties to outside groups. Outside groups have a different, more expensive fee structures and adhere to stricter guidelines for property use. Our site managers orient all groups to the site and to the rules.
How will the new buildings be named? Many large donors see naming rights as a benefit to acknowledge their donation. Names for buildings will be determined based on requirements from donors or on a case by case basis if no major donor is involved.
Camp Wildwood Questions:
Why is there only one set of tents at Wildwood? The aim for property portfolio is to offer a wide range of housing options on each property. The master site plan for Wildwood currently shows one tent unit which is expected to be completed yet this spring utilizing tents that were in good condition retained from Camp Shawadasee. If we find that the tent units are popular with girls we will consider another site for an additional unit. This site also has the capability of primitive camping (at Trails end) where tents can be pitched. The direction for Wildwood is to provide opportunities for day and troop camping. As improvements to the property are made, we can assess usage to help determine further needs for the property.
What kind of toilets will be in the tent areas? In the near term, there will be latrine type toilets for the tent units and showers are available at the Dunbar Service Center. However, the long range plan calls for a free standing shower house that will be available to tent campers.
Will there be a challenge course at Wildwood? Wildwood currently has an outdoor exercise circuit that can certainly be challenging. With the current method of on-site support available at Wildwood, creating a formal challenge course would be cost prohibitive from an insurance standpoint. It may possible to provide a few specialized elements on that site that could be secured when not in use. The focus for advanced challenge courses will be primarily at McMillen Program Center, while the focus for Wildwood is nature study.
Could a prehistory badge be created and advertised for completion at Wildwood? This is a great idea! This would make an excellent silver award project for some ambitious girl or troop. We will check into possible interest in creating one.
Will programming include City Nature Preserve? The council does not currently have a relationship with the City of Logansport; however, this is something that we will be working on in the next year. In addition, we would like to begin to collaborate with other organizations in the Logansport area to utilize Wildwood more fully.
Camp Ella J. Logan Questions:
Why is another new residence needed for the site manager? Please keep in mind that these plans are for the long term. The current site manager’s house will be repurposed and the location for the new house will provide better security for camp lane entrance. The suggestion to relocate the site manager’s house at Camp Logan does not have anything to do with the condition of the current home; rather, it has everything to do with where the house is located on the property. This is not one of the top priority changes for Logan at this time.
Will housing include bedding or just floor mats? Most of the new troop houses that are being planned will include bunk beds and leaders quarters.
If a ‘new’ Tanglewood is built at Camp Logan, can it have the large central fireplace? This is a great suggestion. We will consider a central fireplace when the building is actually designed. Large central fireplaces can present a safety hazard and we would need to ensure that those issues were adequately addressed.
If a troop house is built at Pioneer, will the tents be kept? The plan is to keep the pioneer tent unit as is. A new troop house at this site is very long range and the tents will be kept even after this is added. Our plan is to continually evaluate the use of buildings and tents to determine if any adjustments need to be made in the housing options available on any property.
Would it be possible to ease up on the requirements to encourage use of the waterfront and boats? Our fees for use are currently being restructured so that they are easier to understand. For additional information see the general statement about trained facilitators. The standards by which all activities are structured incorporate GSUSA, ACA and all Federal and State guidelines. In addition, our insurance company is closely involved in the risk management practices for any specialized activity.
What are the plans for Girl Scout Island? Plans for Girl Scout Island are to clear some areas of this unique spot and begin to use it as a destination for Logan campers. One issue that needs to be addressed is bathroom facilities for this area.
How are we going to secure the Kiwanis and Pioneer entrances? We certainly understand the concerns about security and with the full time site manager continue to work on ways to secure the property. All of our camp neighbors have been asked to stay off the property.
Camp McMillen Questions:
Why is a new house needed for the site manager at McMillen? The current site manager’s house is an old farmhouse and structurally unsound and borderline dangerous. The council and our property consultant agree that putting financial resources into that structure would be unwise.
Do we plan to continue to keep some acreage in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program)? Could we include the CRP acreage in programming? Both Camp Ella J. Logan and Camp McMillen currently have some acreage in Conservation Reserve. This program provides financial assistance to ‘farmers’ who convert certain cropland that is highly erodible to vegetative cover, such as native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips and riparian buffers. Farmers receive a small annual rental payment for the term of the contract. Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices and to perform other required maintenance on the CRP acreage. All of the CRP acreage we currently have is under contract and it is quite expensive to take acreage out of the program prior to the contract expiration date. As we move forward with our site plans we will remove acreage from this program as the CRP contracts expire and incorporate this acreage into other programmatic areas.
What will the new bridge connect? Our property consultant believes that this structure will greatly improve the ease of moving from one side of the camp to the other and will increase use of new programmatic areas of the property. The bridge will connect the some of the tent units across the ravine with program space on the other side. No changes are planned for the ‘troll bridge’
What will we add to the pond area? Our property consultants have suggested that we expand the pond area to increase its use in environmental studies and perhaps deepen the pond so that it could sustain aquatic life such as fish. The deck overlooking the pond by the nature center would be a perfect venue for fishing.
Could we offer year round nature programs to local groups? While we certainly want to make these types of programs available to our girls, our mission is not to provide wide spread nature education. However, we might consider some kind of collaboration with these groups.
Will Sycamore Hollow be kept? For the time being, Sycamore Hollow will still be available as a tent camping area.
Will the Hostel be updated? There will be some changes to the Hostel, specifically in the restroom and kitchen area.
Is there truly a need for a water feature at this camp? Having a water feature at this camp will provide some much needed relief on hot summer days for campers. It will provide an additional program element for this site and can provide a lot of fun for all age groups depending on the features available on the pad.
Would it be possible to have more aquatic activities on Cedar Creek? Cedar Creek is a beautiful scenic waterway whose water levels fluctuate a great deal throughout the calendar year. When the water is high, the stream flows very quickly and could be quite dangerous. Later in the summer the water level drops to a very low level. Either situation does not make this body of water a good alternative for aquatic activities.
Will there be elevated foot paths in the area east of the current low ropes? There are no current plans for elevated foot paths in the current low ropes area. The old low ropes area once it is vacated will be left to rest for the time being.
Camp Soni Springs Questions:
When will camp be open for overnight use? GSNI-M is currently working with the State of Michigan to ensure that the camp site meets the requirements for a residential camp license. This type of licensure is required for any overnight use of the property. Some of the requirements will be addressed in Phase 1 of the improvement plan.
Will there be a large Game field? The large field by Lake Mary will remain open for games.
Will the new parking lot be paved? The new parking area will most likely be composite gravel or some other surface that would allow for drainage.
What will become of the Oaks camping area? The decision to move or remove any one area in any camp is part of the site plan for the entire site. Also, decisions have been made based on the intended primary use of the camp.
How will the Little Galien River figure into the site plan for Soni? The original property assessment recommendation was to sell this part of the property. We are revisiting that recommendation based on input from the property consultant. There are no plans for a bridge or river walk at this point in time. Because of previous experience with building (and rebuilding) bridges across the river, we have determined this would not be the best use of council financial resources at this time.
Are there emergency procedures for gas line break? Each property has its own set of emergency procedures particular to that site. Camp Soni Springs' emergency procedures include this contingency.
What is Camp Soni Springs' sleeping capacity right now? With the constraints of residential camp licensing requirements for the state of Michigan, none of Soni’s current housing is appropriate. Current capacity for overnights is zero. Our long term plan is to provide for approximately 96 seasonal camping accommodations, and approximately 44 winterized camping accommodations. There will also be some designated areas for primitive camping.
Are there trails, nature education ideas for Soni? The master site plan calls for the construction of a new and larger nature center on the site. The current trail system will be enhanced to take that into account.
Are there plans for improving the water quality and the beach area? During the months of March and April 2012, we had two pond consultants look at the pond and make recommendations on improvements. We consider the use of the lake and beach area a high priority.
What provisions are being made for Wi-Fi connectivity? While we feel this is important, we are currently limited by a lack of available internet providers.
Will there be a trading post at Camp Soni Springs? There will be a trading post at Camp Soni for the community day camps this summer and the long range plans call for a permanent trading post (store) as a part of the multi-purpose building
Will the new buildings be available for volunteer use? We anticipate that the use of Camp Soni will be consistent the usage at other camp properties in both use and cost. We are excited about the possibility of providing meeting space for our membership located on the west side of the council.
What will become of the Tea House? The Tea House is a beautiful and unique building. The long range plans call for repurposing it into a program and craft building for the camp. With the current fireplace in this building, it could not be used for overnight stays.
Do we need such large buildings? The new buildings have not been designed so actual sizes have not been decided. However, it is important to think about the long term use of this site. A large multipurpose building could provide a venue for all types of events throughout the year that would serve volunteers and girls on the west side of the council including South Bend.