Local Guiders trying to save Camp Bryerswood

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The future of Camp Bryerswood is in question and local Guiders are attempting to ensure the camp stays in service.

The 27.5-acre camp is located on Texas Road between Concession 6 North and Howard Ave. but questions linger about how much longer it will be in Girl Guide control. Local Guiders Cathy Robertson and Linda Tull say they received an e-mail from the Ontario branch of Girl Guides of Canada earlier this year advising that all 16 camps, including Camp Bryerswood, were in jeopardy of closure.

“We have to come up with a plan to keep it going,” said Tull.

After local Guiding organizations protested, the camps were given a reprieve but they do have to submit a business case on why they should be allowed to stay open.

Local Guiders Linda Tull and Cathy Robertson stand outside of one of the cabins on the grounds of Camp Bryerswood.

“We’ve been here since 1992,” said Robertson. “We took it over from the KOA. Since then, we’ve been adding, fixing and repairing.”

The camp services not only Girl Guides from Essex County but from Windsor and Chatham-Kent as well.

“This is the camp for down here,” said Robertson. “The next closest camps are up towards Sarnia and London.”

Robertson said the camp is used year-round as it has winterized buildings with outside groups also using the camp on days when Guiding does not use it.

“It is available on a limited basis,” said Robertson.

Tull said the Girl Guides of Canada in Ontario “wants to sell all of the camps” as there is not enough money to keep them open. Robertson added that Camp Bryerswood has a great volunteer base and has a board with eight to ten members that meet monthly.

“All of us have a job to do to make sure everything runs smoothly,” said Tull.

Rentals and fundraising account for much of Camp Bryerswood’s revenue with the camp also holding large events periodically for girls. Tull noted they have hosted Girl Guides from as far as Kentucky.

“It’s more than just a local camp,” said Robertson.

The local camp is sustainable, Robertson and Tull added.

“We’re always in the black,” said Robertson. “I don’t remember the last time we were in the red.”

Guiders Cathy Robertson and Linda Tull stand outside the main building at Camp Bryerswood last Wednesday. Local Guiders are trying to save the camp from being closed and are working on a business case to try and restore it.

The Village Shoppe has a petition that people can sign to keep Camp Bryerswood open with other petitions being scattered in surrounding municipalities as well.

Robertson acknowledged that the business plan will include necessary updates the camp needs. She said there are a pair of 40-year-old furnaces that need upgrading with water heaters and electrical panels also needing work. They also need help from those with masonry experience as some buildings have cracks in the walls and foundations and camp officials are unsure of the extent of the damage.

Accessibility upgrades are also necessary at the camp.

Robertson said they hope they get companies that are willing to come in and take a look at their issues and give them advice on how to proceed. They also hope for in-kind donations or deals on repairs or equipment that Camp Bryerswood requires.

Cathy Robertson and Linda Tull, two of the Guiders trying to save Camp Bryerswood, stand near the pond at the Texas Road site.

“We need to get the word out there that we have issues we have to deal with,” said Robertson.

The Guiders are hopeful for community support sooner rather than later as they face a Nov. 30 deadline to get their business plan complete. After that, they meet with the Ontario council if the plan is deemed worthy. A decision would follow on whether the camp stays open, with local Guiders anticipating that decision by February.

For information or to help, call Kathi Poupard at 519-300-4176 or e-mail campbryerswood@gmail.com.

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