Former Girl Scout camp now open to the public, adding to preserved lands in Northwest Iowa

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 3:16 PM CDT
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WESTFIELD, Iowa (KTIV) - A former northwest Iowa Girl Scout Camp has new life and is available to the public after its purchase by a non-profit environmental organization.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchased Joy Hollow Girl Scout Camp, near Westfield, Iowa, in December 2022. TNC is the proud new owner of the camp, giving the public access to the camp’s 356 acres.

TNC leased the camp back to the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, at no cost, so the Girl Scouts can continue to use the camp. Joy Hollow will also become the state’s first US Forest Service Designated Community Forest.

“And so the network of trails not only here on the camp, but also in connection with other areas next door really make it a gem of a public outdoor recreation spot,” said Graham McGaffin, the state director with TNC.

Adding the Girl Scout camp of course gives The Nature Conservancy extra space, but it also gives them a new environment. At Joy Hollow, it’s mostly a woodland area, and right across the street, you have a prairie preserve.

“And that connectivity of wildlife habitat between the Joy Hollow camp, Five Ridge Prairie, which is a state preserve, Broken Kettle Grasslands, that connectivity is there for wildlife,” said McGaffin.

In a statement, the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa said “Girl Scouts love to spend time outdoors, and by partnering with TNC, we’re setting Girl Scouts up for even more opportunities.”

The public will be able to access any trails at Joy Hollow when the camp isn’t rented out. Members of the public can check a kiosk at the entrance of the camp to make sure it’s open.

TNC isn’t disclosing the total purchase price for the camp, though the organization said in a statement that the purchase was funded through non-profit and government grants and private gifts.