A New Day
Our council is taking a huge step forward in realizing our vision of delivering the best Girl Scout
leadership experience. Throughout this journey, we have been guided by basic Girl Scouting
principles: empowering, inspiring and influencing the girls who will make a difference in our
world. To get us there, we developed a long-range program and property plan that would create
the ideal environment to let our girls shine.
This plan has reached a significant milestone with the announcement of a major initiative – the development of a Leadership Center.
The two important components of the initiative are:
- The purchase of a building in downtown Columbia
- The exploration of a partnership with an organization with green space that would augment the girls' experiences at the Leadership Center.
It is truly a new day for Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands. We are getting closer to creating preferred destinations at all our Girl Scout sites. These destinations will include superior indoor
and outdoor experiences - things our girls said they want from Girl Scouting - and with the recent purchase of a building, the Leadership Center will be in the heart of our state’s capital.
While this initiative is in the early stages, we are pleased to share some details of the tremendous
opportunities ahead for our Council.
Vision Statement of the Long-Range Program and Property Plan
"To provide safe and inviting indoor and outdoor properties offering a diverse range of unique, hands-on educational and engaging recreational activities"
A vision realized
Columbia Leadership Center
Our council first embraced the concept of a Leadership Center in 2009, based on best practices in Girl Scouting, and on what our membership said they wanted. An ad hoc committee, co-
chaired by Donna Sorensen and Justin Strickland, was tasked with turning that vision into a reality.
The building purchased is the former South Carolina agriculture building located in downtown Columbia, 1101 Williams Street, at the corner of Senate Street. This property met eight of the
nine criteria established by the committee. Some of its features are:
- 32,000 square feet of space
- Two-story building
- Located next to the Congaree River in a safe, city setting
- Ample, secure parking
- Walking distance to venues like the South Carolina State Museum and Edventure
The building will require extensive renovations to meet our specific needs. The goal is to create a modern and high-energy environment with a particular focus on activities that surround the five
areas of leadership development: Arts, Business Enterprise, Healthy Living, Outdoor Education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Preliminary amenity plans include:
- Member-centered design
- Room for a variety of group gatherings, sizes and programs
- Girls'-only lounge
- Overnight facilities such as dormitories or indoor cabins
- Indoor climbing wall
- A Girl Scout merchandise shop
- Office space to bring staff support closer to our girl and adult members
- A large meeting room for 300 people
- Rooms for training and development
More green space, more adventure
We are exploring the outdoor component to the Leadership Center with other organizations in the area. It is a priority to provide unparalleled outdoor experiences for our girls and in close
proximity to the new Leadership Center.
Update on other properties
Some of the properties addressed in the long-range program and property plan have been closed and are for sale, or they are in the process of being realigned through various partnerships or
- Camp Blue Cloud: It has recently been sold to one buyer for personal recreational use. A Farewell Ceremony will be held on August 28, 2011.
- Camp Cofitachiqui, Camp Congaree, Camp Drew and the McCormick Lot: They have been sold.
- Camp Mary Elizabeth: As with Columbia, a sub-committee will begin their work to identify partnerships for retention as outlined in the plan.
- Camp Ponderosa: It has not yet been placed on the market, pending the work of the Camp Mary Elizabeth sub-committee.
- Camp Star Fort: This property is currently on the market for sale.
- Greenville Office: We are in the process of renegotiating our lease which expires in June
- Mauldin Service Center: Although it had been announced on February 19, 2011, at the
Spring Delegate Meeting, that we had a contract with a reputable, national private school,
the purchaser was unable to complete the transaction and the contract has since been
cancelled. The Mauldin site has been placed back on the market for sale.
- Spartanburg Service Center: This office was to be closed and council operations
redirected to Camp Mary Elizabeth; however, we were given a free lease offer, so it will
remain open into the foreseeable future.
The journey continues
We began several years ago with a genuine interest in understanding how to attract more girls
to Girl Scouting, given the world we live in today. We looked deep within our organization for
ways we could elevate our programming to make it more meaningful to girls. The new Leadership
Center initiative does just that.
While much remains to be done, our focus will continue to be on engaging our members in the
process. For more information about the background details supporting our long-range program
and property plan, please click here.