Longtime Girl Scouts and campers Grace Pawlukovich and Julie Duris felt heartbroken when they learned Camp Archbald in Susquehanna County would no longer offer programs.
“It’s the second oldest (Girl Scout) camp and I really want to keep it going,” Duris said.
“It’s beautiful,” Pawlukovich added. “It’s honestly the best camp ever.”
For years, attending Camp Archbald has been a tradition for Pawlukovich, a 16-year-old ambassador scout from Factoryville, and Duris, a 15-year-old senior scout from Tunkhannock.
This summer, the camp continues on with efforts from Supporters of Camp Archbald, and both girls have been training to become counselors.
SOCA formed last January when volunteers who had concerns for the future of the camp got together to make a difference.
“The council that owns the facility, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, has chosen not to run any programming or resident camp here in the near future,” said SOCA spokesperson Emily Loder. “Supporters of Camp Archbald was formed to make sure that we have resident camp here and programming available to girls in northeast Pennsylvania.”
SOCA members fundraise to run programs and maintain the camp with the goal of making sure it remains intact for future generations of scouts.
This week and next week, SOCA offers 100 percent volunteer-run resident camp sessions for Girl Scouts ages six to 17 with a wide range of activities, including art, archery, boating and swimming.
“We come from all over northeast Pennsylvania,” said Loder, a former scout and Camp Archbald goer. “Most of us here are former campers or alumni or current troop leaders who have girls that are attending camp or have been involved with the camp in some capacity.”
Although SOCA is not sponsored by Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, the accredited non-profit collaborates with the regional council and allows scouts to pursue badges at camp.
“We do incorporate Girl Scout curriculum into the program and we make sure we’re up to date on the different badges that are available,” Loder said. “It is a Girl Scout camp and we strive to continue to offer programming that is Girl Scout related.”
This summer, 85 campers from around northeast Pennsylvania, as well as New York and Connecticut, are scheduled for each week of resident camp.
“Last year we served 83 girls total and we doubled that for this year,” she said.
GSHPA has set benchmark goals for SOCA in terms of camp usage and finances over three years.
“We’re currently in year two of the three years,” Loder said. “We’re working hard to make sure those goals get met and then at the end of that three-year term is when they’ll have another review.”
Like Loder, camp director Jamie Puchalski has a long history with Girl Scouts and Camp Archbald.
“Resident camp is an experience unlike any other. Girls love it,” she said. “We want to keep offering it and keep having those experiences: the friends, the teamwork, the cooperation, the leadership skills, the outdoor experiences.”
“The memories they carry with them, they really last a lifetime,” Puchalski added.
This sentiment was echoed with Pawlukovich and Duris, who now want to help younger girls have these experiences.
“I had a lot of really awesome counselors who helped me a lot, so I thought it would be really cool if I could do that too,” Pawlukovich said.
On Aug. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., SOCA plans to host “Kayak for Camp” to raise money for Camp Archbald. The fundraiser begins at the Falls dropoff of the Susquehanna River.
For more information about SOCA, visit supportersofcamparchbald.org.