I was concerned after reading a recent article about Woodhaven Program Center. This is the facility operated by the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, and the article highlighted the improvements recently made at this facility for Girl Scouts in this area and beyond.
I congratulate the Girl Scouts on making this commitment for the girls. I am sure it will add the to their opportunities for learning and having a fun and meaningful experience in the out of doors.
There is some clarification that needs to be shared. The Kiwanis Club of Lima secured this facility in the 1950s. Prior to that, they had provided a wooded area east of Lima for the Girl Scouts to use for camping and outdoor experiences.
When Interstate 75 was built, a visionary plan was developed in cooperation with the Girl Scouts, and land was secured at the current location. It was named Camp Woodhaven and truly became a “haven in the woods” for the Girl Scouts.
The recent article indicated that little was done on this site since it was secured. This definitely is not accurate. The first structure was a log cabin that was donated and moved from the Delphos area. Girls slept in tents and used this primitive facility for program activities and some cooking. In the years that followed, a kitchen and large dining room was added. During the years that followed, a craft house, pottery shed and Shagbark Environmental Center were built.
Woodhaven became a hub for camping, outdoor nature studies and specialty programs. Hundreds of staff and volunteer-delivered programs for the Girl Scouts were available throughout our 10-county region of service.
In the early 1980s, this site saw major contemporary improvements with the addition of sleeping dorms, program areas, additional bathrooms and showers, greenhouse/educational areas and increased outdoor cooking and eating areas. In addition, the initial low and high ropes course and trust building programs were developed at this site.
In 1989, a major addition happened with the building of RoseMarie Duffy Lodge at this site. The larger program/dining area and large kitchen enabled the Girl Scouts to have larger events and serve the needs of their members. It was during this period of growth that the Lima Kiwanis formally turned the ownership of this prime property to the Girl Scouts of Appleseed Ridge.
The Girl Scouts then were able to secure the land along Robb Avenue with the plans to eventually build a Council Service Center on this site. This became a reality in late 1995. The generosity of a wonderful donor made it possible to also secure land adjacent to the Girl Scout Camp on Cole Street.
This provided opportunities for additional growth on this site, along with environmental preservation. Also in more recent years, contributions from other donors made it possible to install a new low and high ropes course, trust initiative program equipment and a large program/garage building.
Throughout the years, Woodhaven has been developed through the generosity of many others. It has been a growing, exciting, contemporary site used by the Girl Scouts but also shared with the community during times when the members were in school or not available to be on the site.
It all started because of a visionary dream of a group of Kiwanis. The Girl Scouts have been able to expand and continue to meet the needs of their members through the generosity of its many supporters throughout the greater Lima Area. The thousands of hours of volunteer efforts that helped with the growth cannot even be estimated.
It is wonderful that unique facility will continue to be a “haven in the woods” where valuable skills will be learned and special dreams will continue to be made!
Jane Krites, of Lima, is the former CEO of the Appleseed Ridge Girl Scouts.