The Long Range Property Plan (LRPP) process began on August 27, 2012. The Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas (GSSWT) board of directors established a volunteer-led Long Range Property Planning Committee that was tasked to develop a long-term property plan for the entire council. This plan aims to create a contemporary experience that all girls want and to sustain a sound financial structure that supports membership growth. The sole purpose for council-owned property is to provide the premier Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) to all girls. Providing GSLE program is what drives property decisions.
The LRPP Committee consists of board members, Girl Scout volunteers, community members who are experts in their respective fields and council staff. The members of this diverse committee represent all sections of the council’s 21-county jurisdiction.
The LRPP Committee was charged with forming three subcommittees: the Market Research, Program Research and Property Research groups. These subcommittees collected data to serve as the basis of assessing which council properties would be maintained, developed or sold.
These groups looked at the council’s current properties and program goals and matched those with the needs and interests of the girls GSSWT serves.
Analysis and Synthesis of Data
The purpose of the property study and development of a Long Range Property Plan is to:
- Continue to assess the needs and wants of our current and future membership.
- Develop and deliver program that is relevant and attractive to girl members.
- Enhance program to support the 15 outcomes of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
- Plan development of retained properties based upon membership need and program delivery.
- Plan development of future acquired properties based upon membership need and program delivery.
The market research group utilized the online survey tool Qualtrics to distribute and tabulate the results of adult members, girl members, lapsed members and lifetime members to whom the survey was sent.
The key respondents who completed the survey were:
- 78% of respondents were registered adult members.
- Out of the 78% registered, 86% of them had a registered Girl Scout daughter.
When the members were asked what GSSWT properties they have used:
- 45% have never used a GSSWT-owned/leased property.
- 68% utilized the Sally Cheever Girl Scout Leadership Center.
- 16% utilized the West Side Girl Scout Leadership Center (this site was only open for two months when the survey was conducted.)
- 9% utilized outlying properties, excluding camps.
- 16% utilized camp properties.
- 1% used GSSWT property between 10 and 15 times.
When members were asked what a GSSWT property should offer, the top three answers were:
- Ability to accommodate large gatherings of 150+ people.
- GSSWT property should have year-round availability.
- Council should invest further in properties.
Some other key findings from the survey were:
- 95% of respondents said they were willing to drive an hour or less for adult training, program, meetings, Girl Scout Shop and Resource Center.
- 76% of respondents said that busy schedules and extracurricular.
From the survey data collected, there were some striking correlations about the types of facilities and program desired by girls and adult volunteers. These correlations were compiled and a user criteria matrix was created.
1. All properties should have some form of IT availability, allowing programs to be offered at the speed of the girl. This includes Wi-Fi, internet connection, ability to hold volunteer and staff meetings and trainings as well as girl programs.
2. Travel distance for program participation should not exceed one hour.
3. Properties should be located in areas that can serve the largest amount of girls, allowing the highest level of participation.
4. All properties should allow multiple (between 3 and 5) happenings to occur at once.
5. Availability to accommodate large gatherings of 150+ people, including multiple gathering spaces as stated in item 4.
6. Properties should be accessible year-around.
7. GSSWT should attempt to own properties, therefore avoiding investment of funds into locations that could be short-term.
a. If GSSWT plans to lease a facility, a clear plan of sustainability should be put into place before leasing.
8. Properties should emulate the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (program) by being current, updated and brand specific.
a. Strategic Learning: All properties and volunteers in outlying areas are the face of GSSWT.
9. Each property should have the standard amenities, with the possibility of allowing non-Girl Scout groups to use amenities. This includes:
|Resource Center||Full-size kitchen|
|Ability to hold learning sessions||Office space for staff|
|Green space||Multiple rooms, including a large space to serve 150+ people|
|Showers||Ample parking in non-residential areas|
|Overnight usage||Open to the entire council for use|
|Fire pit/large outside space||Cookie warehouse space|
10. Each property should have the ability to generate income through programs, as well as offsetting occupancy cost through external groups – but always putting membership first.
11. Property should be located on a well-traveled, easily accessible location, i.e., bus routes, major highways, etc.
12. Secondary Need: Each property should offer a specialty focus taking into consideration not to duplicate services already offered by the council or partnering organizations in the area.
13. Property should not be obtained for the purpose of storage for small regional areas (i.e., service unit storage in Girl Scout house). This causes and has proven to create disparity among the council’s different markets.
Out of the eight GSSWT properties, there were two that met all user criteria.
1. Sally Cheever Girl Scout Leadership Center
2. West Side Girl Scout Leadership Center
Three out of the remaining six properties met 88% of the user criteria.
1. Floresville Girl Scout Office
2. Camp La Jita
3. Camp Mira Sol
The remaining three properties did not meet the user criteria.
1. Del Rio Girl Scout House
2. New Braunfels Girl Scout House
3. Seguin Girl Scout House
After identifying all properties, a map was developed that shows the current Girl Scout membership population with future five-year growth of girls (U.S. Census Bureau Statistics). The map was then divided into six different focus areas, using current properties as the driving point of a one-hour radius.
Independent Property Decisions
During the course of the property committee’s evaluation, several operational property decisions were made by the council independently from the work of the committee.
On September 7, 2012, the council made a decision to vacate the Uvalde Girl Scout House due to safety concerns with the condition of the building. The house was leased from the Uvalde Girls Association Trust. Once vacant, the lease was terminated and the keys were returned to the trustee.
On September 17, 2012, the council made a decision to vacate the Carrizo Springs Girl Scout House due to safety concerns with the condition of the building. This property was leased from the City of Carrizo Springs. Once vacant, the keys were returned to the City.
On December 10, 2012, the Eagle Pass Girl Scout Educational Center was vacated. This closure was due to a main waterline break, in which the trust, Girls for the Future Inc., was not able to repair per the lease agreement. Once vacant, the keys were returned to the trustee.
Final Board Approved Decisions
The following properties fell drastically short of meeting the user criteria and the respective leases/Girl Scout agreements will be terminated as of December 31, 2013:
1. Del Rio Girl Scout House
2. New Braunfels Girl Scout House
3. Seguin Girl Scout House
The Sally Cheever Girl Scout Leadership Center, West Side Girl Scout Leadership Center, Camp La Jita and Camp Mira Sol met the majority of the user criteria and offer great opportunities for program growth. The council will retain these properties and camps.
Floresville will continue to support program until the lease expires. The Junction site was determined to have no lease on file and no legally binding agreement of ownership or management of this property for which GSSWT was held responsible. Instead, it was determined it was a community room owned by the Junction Rotary Club that allows local Girl Scout troops to utilize it; therefore a decision for this non-Girl Scout site is irrelevant.
Moving forward into Phase II of the LRPP, Focus Area Task Groups will be formed to represent each of the focus areas that were identified in the Focus Area Map. These task groups will be comprised of local volunteers, LRPP committee members and board members.
The Focus Area Task Groups will be charged with drilling down further into council data and focus area demographics. This will result in the development of a master plan that will address procurement of future property in focus areas 1 and 6 to replace the properties that will be relinquished. The master plan will also address procurement of future owned propery in focus area 4 and deferred maintenance in currently owned properties in focus areas 2, 3 and 5. This master plan will support the program focus for each focus area.
A communications plan has been implemented to share the board-approved decision with GSSWT membership. Town hall meetings are scheduled throughout the 21-county jurisdiction to share finalized board-approved recommendations. Transition plans will also be implemented for those houses that will be relinquished, and GSSWT will work with local volunteers and house managers to ensure a smooth closure and transition for those who are affected.