Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Into the Woods


Last week County Executive Calvin Ball announced that the County had come to an agreement with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to purchase the land known as Camp Ilchester. This has been welcome news to those who have advocated that the land be preserved as natural parkland.

Howard County’s $6M offer to purchase Camp Ilchester accepted; Ball pledges to preserve the land as open space, Katie V. Jones, Baltimore Sun

The announcement took me back to about a year ago when I first learned that word of a possible sale was afoot.

On March 31st a reader reached out to me with the question: is this on your radar? The enclosed link took me to an announcement that the Girl Scouts of Maryland were considering the sale of Camp Ilchester. The reasoning was that they would be the best stewards of their resources by using money from the sale to support other state Girl Scout properties and programs.

The best defense for what the land could be, in my opinion, came from people who had experienced what it was. The first-hand recollections of a college student looking back on her Girl Scout years gave a vivid account of what Camp Ilchester had meant to her and her peers.

An Expert Witness

Camp Ilchester will host one last summer of Girl Scout Camps this year. After that, its exact future has not yet been determined. Some possible uses suggested include sports programs, outdoor adventure camps, active aging activities and a nature center with nature-based educational programming. In my opinion, the use most closely aligned with Camp Ilchester’s roots would be the latter. 

I imagine that the County will work with the community to come up with a plan on how to move forward. For local Girl Scouts and their families, this must be a bittersweet conclusion. The land will be preserved, but it won’t be Camp Ilchester as they have known it. 

On the other hand, I hope those who advocated and organized around this issue are proud of their impact on its resolution. There’s no question that their involvement made a difference. I hope they stay involved as the future of this space takes shape.

I have a hunch that they probably will.

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