The dreary Saturday-afternoon weather didn’t stop dozens of former Girl Scouts from attending the closing ceremony for Camp Wood Lake, a 50-plus-acre campground on the shores of Lake Brownwood that had been hosting Girl Scouts of all ages since 1956.
At the ceremony, former Scouts and their guests took walks around the grounds and congregated in the camp dining hall before lighting one last campfire and singing traditional Girl Scout songs.
Lolis Garcia-Baab, chief marketing and communications officer for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, said the decision to close Camp Wood Lake was a difficult one influenced by aging facilities, financial constraints and declining attendance.
“It’s very sad for us to do this, but this camp requires a lot of money just to bring it up to code,” Garcia-Baab said. “We have to put our resources where we can serve the most girls.”
Garcia-Baab said there will still be campouts in the Brownwood area for local Girl Scouts. “So girls that want to go to camp in Brownwood can still get the Girl Scouts leadership experience,” she said.
The Girl Scouts run two other campgrounds in the region as well.
Robin Wheeler, the membership development executive for the local Girl Scouts, said she practically grew up at Camp Wood Lake. “I basically lived out here when I was a kid,” Wheeler said. “If I sold enough cookies, I could earn free weeks out here and I came as often as I could.”
Wheeler said the campgrounds hosted mother-daughter camps, father-daughter camps, retreats and traditional “resident camps.” The camps had various themes and activities for different age levels, including waterfront camps and primitive camping excursions.
Jan Cate ran the camp when it was owned by the Heart of Texas Council, which later merged with the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. She said she’s not focusing on the sadness of the day. “I just choose to think about all the girls’ lives that we changed and the memories we made,” Cate said.
Many of the former Scouts dug up bricks from Daisy’s Garden, a fundraiser for the Heart of Texas Council in which girls could inscribe their name or that of a loved one on a brick and then keep it at the campground.
Cate estimates that there were about 100 bricks in Daisy’s Garden.
The kitchen and dining hall of Camp Wood Lake are in disrepair now, emptied out with peeling red paint and dusty shelves. But the space contains warm memories of 61 years, memories that heartened the Girl Scouts as they said goodbye to the Lake Brownwood institution where they grew up.