SARANAC LAKE - A group is continuing efforts to buy Eagle Island in Upper Saranac Lake with the hopes of reopening a former Girl Scout camp there.
Friends of Eagle Island incorporated in March and is now applying for nonprofit status, said its spokeswoman, Beth Rubin. The group held its first public meeting on April 2 at Morrow Church in Maplewood, N.J. More than 70 alumnae of Camp Eagle Island - teenagers to octogenarians - gathered to reconnect with old friends and further develop plans to acquire their old camp's property.
Eagle Island is owned by Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, which closed the camp for repairs in 2009 and announced in October 2010 it would sell the property. Friends of Eagle Island would like to bring it back as a camp for girls.
Girl Scouts paint each other’s faces at Camp Eagle Island in August 2005, back when it was still open.
(Enterprise file photo — Dan Leonidas)
This June, the group hopes to hold a fundraiser, "Take a Hike for Eagle Island," in several locations around the country. The group is also soliciting online donations of $25 to $100 each and claims on its website to have 230 donors.
Friends of Eagle Island claims to consist of more than 1,000 members, including several generations of alumnae, former staff members and supporters of the original camp. The group has been in existence for decades as a much smaller entity and has been involved with operating the camp in the past.
Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey officials did not return a phone call for this article.
The 32-acre estate on Eagle Island was built in 1903 for former U.S. Vice President Levi P. Morton. The complex consists of 11 buildings, designed by Adirondack architect William Coulter.
It became a Girl Scout camp in 1938 after the Henry Graves family of Orange, N.J. gave the island to the Maplewood-South Orange, New Jersey Girl Scout Council. That branch eventually became the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex County, New Jersey, which merged with a Hudson County council in the late 1990s. Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey took it over in recent years.
The camp was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, and in 2004 the property was named a National Historic Landmark.