We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made to date in our effort to save Eagle Island. Please read the article below for more details on the status of our legal challenge and then click here to make as generous a contribution as you can to keep our effort going. It’s going to take all of us.
Eagle Island - Where History Meets the Future
Donated by the Graves family in 1937 to provide learning opportunities and out-of-door experiences for girls and young women, Eagle Island Camp has developed generations of women leaders. The mission of Friends of Eagle Island, Incorporated, is to perpetuate this legacy by providing an environmentally responsible Adirondack island camping experience for diverse youth, with an emphasis on girls and young women, while preserving Eagle Island’s natural and historic character.
We are motivated by a common thought: What if Eagle Island was sold and ceased to be a summer camp and I did nothing to stop it?
The Girls Scouts Heart of New Jersey has announced their intent to sell Eagle Island. The Friends of Eagle Island is working to make sure that the island remains a camp.
Attending a summer camp that challenges their abilities in this setting is key to keeping girls connected to the natural world throughout their lives, and giving them confidence in their own capabilities. This camp experience has served to strengthen and enlighten girls for a lifetime.
Friends of Eagle Island Needs Your Help!
FEI v. GSHNJ/Court Hearing February 28, 2014
by Rowain Kalichstein
Date: February 28, 2014
Today was an important day in court for us. Going in, we knew that there was a possibility that the Court would reject two of our most important claims and that GSHNJ was seeking to have the majority of our case dismissed. While it would be premature to claim victory, we did survive to fight another day. Moreover, the Deputy Attorney General has sent a signal that, pending further analysis, the Attorney General would be inclined to recommend to the Court that a transfer of Eagle Island should not be approved without some restrictions as to its future use. The Deputy Attorney General did not elaborate on the precise nature of the restrictions the Attorney General might decide are appropriate, but he did suggest that such a restriction would include use by Girl Scouts for camping. At the previous hearing, the Deputy Attorney General had suggested that he would see no problem with the Court retroactively approving the 1980 transfer of Eagle Island from Girl Scout Camp Eagle Island, Inc. (“GSEIC”) to Girl Scouts of Greater Essex (“GSGE”) even if the successor Council, GSHNJ intends to sell the camp with no restrictions. The shift in position that the Deputy Attorney General articulated today, if it holds and ripens into a recommendation to the Court, may well give Eagle Island enough protection to avoid a sale to a private buyer or a developer as contemplated by GSHNJ. This is a very positive development.
In another favorable development, the Court granted our request to add two new plaintiffs, Carole Mackenzie and Coralyn (Lyn) Vossler. These are two members of GSGEH who voted for the merger in reliance on representations that the merger would be a good thing for Eagle Island as well as statements that the camp would be needed going forward to accommodate the expanded Council population. They would have voted otherwise if they knew that the true plan following the merger was to dispose of Eagle Island. GSHNJ opposed our request to add Carole and Lyn, but the Court allowed us to add these two plaintiffs. The Court also allowed us to replace Patricia Foody, who was named as a plaintiff as Rose Foody’s guardian, with Rose, now that Rose is 18 years old and can be a plaintiff in her own right.
Finally, the Judge did not grant GSHNJ’s request to dismiss several of FEI’s claims against Susan Brooks and Tiffany Wilson. This does not mean that GSHNJ cannot renew that request later, but for now those claims continue.
So, as things stood at the conclusion of today’s hearing, which lasted a bit over 90 minutes, it appears that we will not succeed in our claim that Eagle Island is held subject to a charitable trust (which we had asked the Court to imply). However, as for our critical second claim, the Attorney General will have additional time to review the facts and legal arguments we have provided and test them against his understanding of the governing legal precedents regarding the question of restrictions in any transfer of Eagle Island. The Attorney General will submit his recommendations in writing to the parties and to the Court. The parties will then have the opportunity to respond to these recommendations; and another hearing will be scheduled probably in 6 to 8 weeks’ time although no date was fixed today. We can expect the next hearing to take up this very question of what, if any, restrictions should apply to any transfer of Eagle Island Camp. This is a threshold question that, in turn, will shape, if not determine, the course of the litigation from here on out.
The judge said today that he would like to move our matter along. He indicated that he believes the best way to proceed is to approach the complicated issues that are involved one by one or step by step. By this he meant that there is no point arguing in advance about issues that may not need to be reached if the entire case may be disposed of at an earlier point.
Stay tuned. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Because our advocate extraordinaire Bob Goodsell has, himself, written the summations of court proceedings that you’ve previously received, you have not heard how eloquent, how quick on his feet, and how persuasive he is. He’s really wonderful to watch and we don’t begin to know how fortunate we are to be the beneficiaries of his tireless efforts on behalf of saving Eagle Island. I am allowed to say that, after the Graves’s gift, Bob is the next greatest. It is also important to recognize the key role the excellent and thorough written submissions from Bob’s firm play in persuading the Court and in informing the Attorney General’s office of the critical facts.
It is worth noting that, regardless of the outcome, there seems to be a gathering recognition that our case is not a simple matter and that the issues raised are complicated, if not novel (some of them may actually be novel). This is a far cry from being dismissed out of hand as frivolous or for failing to state a claim on which relief can be granted, as GSHNJ initially tried to argue. For this reason alone we have come a very long way.
Apart from myself, as an observer, Buz Graves, Mary Hotaling, and Erika Merrill attended the hearing.
Any of you who can be in the area for the next hearing is encouraged to come. A showing of interest and moral support is extremely valuable.
To download this article click this link.
Why Are Girl Scout Camps Being Closed? Daily Beast Jan. 2014
Check out this article at the Daily Beast about Why Are Girl Scout Camps Being Closed?
Take A Hike Save A Camp
Take A Hike, Save A Camp - Eagle Island Alumnae and Supporters Spearhead National Solidarity Hike!
See photos of hikes that have happened below!
During October 2013, Friends of Eagle Island across the country and around the world joined together to TAKE A HIKE: SAVE A CAMP. Twenty hikes took place from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to Washington, D.C., from New York City to California, and all the way around the globe to Asia and Russia. Some hikes were made by one or two people while others brought together groups of alums from different eras who lived in the same area. Everyone had a great time and many new friendships took root. At least 117 people took part in the hikes, and many who were unable to hike donated to support others’ hikes. To date we have received $7,700 and hike donations are still arriving. Thanks to everyone who hiked or donated! TAKE A HIKE: SAVE A CAMP was organized as a fundraiser to help the Friends of Eagle Island in our lawsuit against GSHNJ. It was also a chance to unite with other groups fighting to save their camps. Save the Girl Scout Camps of Alabama, and SOS Camps, a group working to save their camps in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, joined us and organized their own hikes. To date 234 summer GS camps across the country have been sold, closed, or are in jeopardy of closing. The Friends of Eagle Island continue to need your support with our lawsuit against the GSHNJ to block the sale of Eagle Island, which was specifically given to the Girl Scouts by the Graves family for the benefit of girls.
View Take a Hike, Save a Camp in a larger map
Photos From FEI Take A Hike, Save A Camp 2013
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