GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 22, 2013

Selling Paradise: Girl Scouts put property on block

BEVERLY — The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts plan to sell Camp Paradise, a 12-acre camp in Beverly that has been used by Girl Scouts and other groups from across the region for decades.

The organization’s board of directors voted last month to sell the camp as well as The Center in Rowley, saying they are among the least used of its 27 properties in eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Camp Paradise is located on 12 acres of wooded land off Cole Street, not far from Routes 22 and 128.

In a letter to supporters announcing the decision, Girl Scout officials said they will make “reasonable efforts” to find buyers who will keep the sites as conservation land and allow them still to be used by Girl Scouts, “but this goal may not be achievable for both properties.”

The Girl Scouts acquired the property in 1963. It is now assessed at $1.57 million, according to city records.

Camp Paradise was once a thriving center of activity for local Girl Scouts, including overnight camping. Now the camp hosts only three or four programs a year, said Jan Goldstein, chief marketing officer for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.

Goldstein said Camp Paradise has just one building and is smaller than many of the organization’s other properties, some of which have multiple campground areas and ropes challenge courses.

“It doesn’t have the flexibility to run the kinds of programs we can run at some of our other properties,” Goldstein said.

Girl Scout troops can rent the camp for $50 per day or $100 per night. The rate for other nonprofit groups is $100 per day or $200 per night.

The sale of Camp Paradise is part of a nationwide trend of local Girl Scout councils selling off long-time summer camps. The Girl Scouts of the USA are facing declining membership, a drop in volunteers, and a $347 million deficit in its pension plan.

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