On the eve of our 100th Anniversary of Guiding in Ontario half of the Girl Guide Camps in Ontario have closed effective November, 2009.
The decision by Ontario Council was made following a consultant report of camps in Ontario. This is just one more phase of “Transformation” that has happened since 2007. The goal of Transformation was to make Guiding more efficient and make communication more effective. What it has created is a two-tiered structure across Canada.
The Guiders in Ontario wonder if the “critical mass” has accepted this new approach. We have a few questions that have been left unanswered by both the Chief Commissioner and the Provincial Commissioner. We ask, where was the consultation with Guiding Volunteers on these very important matters? Why has communication been cut off with both camps and units? Why can’t the Camp Committees see the consultant’s report? Where is our leadership???
Camp Closings – Key Points
In November 2009, Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council announced that they would be closing and selling 16 of 33 Girl Guide camp properties across Ontario. The camps being closed are circled on the maps (see below). They include:
- 4 of 4 (100%) in Northern Ontario
- 3 of 5 (60%) in Eastern Ontario
- 7 of 12 (60%) in Southwestern Ontario
- 2 of 10 (20%) in the golden horseshoe/GTA
- the 2 camps in Muskoka/Haliburton are being kept
The remaining camps are clustered around Ontario’s largest cities – Toronto, Hamilton, London, Windsor and Ottawa, plus the two in “Toronto’s cottage country.” For an organization that professes to respect diversity, this does not seem fair to the small towns and communities of rural Ontario.
Until 2007, these camps were purchased, maintained, and operated by local Districts, Divisions, or Areas with funds raised or donated by members and non-members of their local community.
The beneficial owners on the original land deeds are the members of those geographical regions.
By carefully rewriting the organization’s by-laws, GGC has redefined the “beneficial owners” as Ontario Council, giving those few members on Council the right to dispose of these properties without input from the many members who actually use and maintain them.
The current decisions were based on surveys, a hired consultant’s study, and financial statements for each camp – none of these have been made available to Guiding members.
Assumptions used in the decision-making process appear to include:
- Girls’camp fees should be the sole source of revenue for camps. (Local fundraising, donations, and the designation of a small percentage of cookie profits or registration fees, have been discounted.)
- Camp operations should earn a profit. (In the past, this was never permitted under GGC’s charitable organization status.)
- The act of “camping” is unrelated to the operation of camp properties. (Do camp properties not exist to provide a safe place to carry out the outdoor component of the girls’ programming?)
- Composite summer camping (where girls attend as individuals) is preferable to Unit weekend camps. GGC camps must compete with the expensive private camps of Ontario’s cottage country.
As members of the GGC organization, we feel we have a right to know and to respond to the assumptions, methodology, results, and recommendations of the surveys and studies before these properties are permanently lost to us.