A Historic Girl Scout Camp Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary
Supporters of Camp Archbald is making sure that it remains open for another century and beyond.
At Camp Archbald in Kingsley, lifelong friendships, outdoor adventures and nights around the campfire are more than traditions—they’re a part of history. Founded in 1920, Camp Archbald is the second oldest continuously operating Girl Scout camp in the country.
In its glory days, the camp hosted eight full weeks of summer resident programs. But in recent years, economic constraints and declining attendance put the camp at risk. In 2018, the regional Girl Scout council placed Camp Archbald under review and announced that it would not host resident programs for the first time in camp history.
The thought of a summer without camp— or worse, camp closing completely— inspired a group of Girl Scout alumni, friends and community members to take action. They formed Supporters of Camp Archbald (SoCA) and offered to run the camp’s programs on a 100% volunteer basis. The nonprofit currently has over 500 members who honor the camp’s past and help preserve it for the future.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all activities at camp are cancelled through August 31. However, SoCA is still hard at work planning for the 2021 season.
Generations of Scouts Have Spent Their Summers at Camp Archbald
SoCA makes sure that the property remains beautiful and historic.
In the summer of 1920, a group of Scranton Girl Scouts set off into the Endless Mountains and pitched their tents at Camp Archbald, their new campsite on the shores of Ely Lake. In the early years, campers rode the Northern Electric Trolley from Scranton to Kingsley and hiked a mile into the camp. Over the years, the camp acquired more land and expanded with tent units, cabins and even houseboats.
The oldest structure that still stands is the Trading Post, which was originally built in 1921 as an administrative office and now serves as a camp store. But the camp has also adapted to the needs of modern-day Scouting. In 2014, they built a new archery range, ropes course, climbing tower and zipline to meet the growing interest in outdoor adventure sports.
SoCA takes care of site maintenance and repairs the historic buildings. They also raise awareness in the community, letting people know the powerful role that this Susquehanna County campsite has played in the history of Girl Scouting.
SoCA Steps Up to Save Summer Camp
Without SoCA’s programs, many NEPA Scouts wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to camp.
The history alone makes Camp Archbald a special place, but the real magic is in the camp experience. SoCA recognizes that summer camp can introduce girls to adventures and friendships they never would have experienced otherwise. If Camp Archbald closed down, local Scouts would have to travel far from home to attend camp (or miss out on it altogether).
During their first year, the SoCA team pulled together a volunteer-run, week-long program in just a few months’ notice. The following year, they expanded to two weeks of programming, which allowed them to serve nearly twice as many girls. They also organize day events and weekend programs throughout the year.
As a girl-driven organization, SoCA relies on camper feedback to come up with fun themes. Their popular horseback riding programs fills up almost immediately. “River Rats” is another favorite where girls take a six-day canoe trip down the Susquehanna. In the future, SoCA plans to roll out two new Harry Potter camps and a cooking camp.
By the end of 2019, SoCA’s programs had directly served 2,200 girls from first through twelfth grade. And as they continue to grow, they look forward to offering even more opportunities to instill confidence, courage and character in tomorrow’s leaders.
Looking Ahead to the Next 100 Years
Even though resident camp is cancelled this year, SoCA is already planning for summer 2021.
For the health and safety of campers and staff, Camp Archbald has cancelled all of their summer programs this year. However, SoCA is still working hard behind the scenes to makes sure the 2021 season is better than ever.
Many of the 100th anniversary celebrations and camp reunions have also been postponed until next year. However, SoCA will still hold virtual events, like a singalong fundraiser and a live recording as they raise the 100th anniversary flag.
Depending on conditions, SoCA still plans on holding a Kayak for Camp Fundraiser in August, where participants will spend a fun day paddling down the Susquehanna River.
Over 4,900 Volunteer Hours and Counting
Dedicated members and community support make summer camp possible.
SoCA’s programs are completely volunteer-run, which helps keep things affordable for campers. However, they still rely on donations to keep their programs going and to provide camp scholarships for girls with financial need.
SoCA is always accepting new members to help with planning, registration, community outreach, history archives, social media and more. If you’re interested in getting involved, you’re sure to find a committee that meets your talents and interests.
Help Protect a NEPA Tradition
Learn more about volunteer positions, events, facility rentals and other ways to get involved at Camp Archbald.
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