BRIAR CREEK TOWNSHIP, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Summer is a popular time for youth camps, including one that existed for decades before falling into disrepair.
But the camp is once again welcoming young people, thanks to what only can be described as a “never-give-up” attitude.
It’s Christmas in July coming up this weekend at a former Girl Scout camp that seemed doomed to permanent closure just a few years ago. But it’s back, and organizers have bigger and better plans with community support.
“It’s so nice to see the loading dock with stuff once again,” Camp Louise Center for Outdoor Recreation & Education (CORE) Board Member Alex Kijek said.
The photos Kijek has on her phone show signs of life this summer at what was once the 340-acre Girl Scout property near Shickshinny called Camp Louise.
“This was traditionally where residents camp. We would have a campfire the last night of camp,” Kijek said.
She was a Scout who learned lessons big and small there while attending it from 2000 to 2010. But the camp that dates back to 1959 abruptly closed in 2016.
Kijek and other former Scouts banded together to save the site and formed what’s now called Camp Louise Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education. It took hard work from a dedicated group of volunteers.
“Oh man, there’s been a whole lot of power washing, countless hours of cleaning in the kitchen to get that inspected and up to certification,” Kijek said.
And fix the plumbing, too. To make it a useable camp which it’s become, it also took fundraisers. The latest is a Christmas in July Craft and Vendor Show this weekend featuring dozens of craft vendors, raffles and food.
“It’s just generate what we can. This is our first time doing it so we want to see how it goes,” Kijek said.
Santa Claus will also make an appearance.
“This is just a way to just generate some excitement about the camp and hopefully, you know, introduce the camp to maybe some parents and some kids that don’t know about it, don’t know what it has to offer,” Santa, AKA Pat Simmers, said.
With two camp housing units already in use, Kijek and other board members hope the remaining two units and the camp pool can also be restored and offer to children an experience which helped shape so many lives.
“We’re not there for any reason besides love of the camp and desire to provide other kids with the experiences that we had that were obviously so beneficial to us,” Kijek said.
And organizers for Camp Louise Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education hope by this time next year they’ll be able to offer day and resident camps.
The Christmas in July Craft and Vendor Show is happening Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the campground in Briar Creek Township.
For more information, visit Camp Louise on Facebook.