Finger Lakes Find: Discovering Beechwood State Park

July 14, 2012 at 3:56 am Leave a comment

Finger Lakes Summer

The shoreline is now more naturalized

Beechwood State Park is a former Girl Scouts of America summer camp.  I remember it as “Brownie Bee Camp.” It was my first sleepover camp — where I had to take a swim test to go in the pool, and I learned all about boondoggle and S’mores.

The state bought the land from the Girl Scouts for $600,000 in 1996. Unfortunately, before the State could upgrade and open the newly acquired park, a budget crisis got in the way. The park’s purpose became a manageable “preserve” and it opened with no improvements in 1999.

The park contains 250 acres of pine and hemlock groves, wooded hills and marshy ravines, plus over 1,500 ft. of pebbled Lake Ontario shoreline with access to the west side of Maxwell Bay.

After 15 years with no maintenance, the property is over grown and the buildings are in a state of decay. As time passes it continues to revert to a more natural state. As I walked around I felt like I was witnessing a study in nature reclaiming it’s own.

The Girl Scouts of America purchased the land in 1929. Beechwood was named for the American Beech Trees that grow along the lakeside. Girls like me were both attracted to camping in the woods and terrified of the possibilities for critters to drop by when sleeping in an open lean-to.

Taxes on lakefront property in NY State increased dramatically over the years, and scout membership was on the decline nationally. Eventually it was just too much and the camp closed.

Brownie Bee Camp was a great launching pad for me. I graduated from the safe sleepover camps — close to home — to hiking and canoeing in Algonquin Park — where bears and moose were our closest neighbors and we drank the water that dripped off our paddles from lakes that will never see a motorboat.

For a fabulous slide show of Beechwood


Entry filed under: Hiking, Lake Ontario, New York, New York State Parks, Sodus Bay. Tags: , , , , , .

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