side menu icon

Our Local Council

Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY) is the leading organization for girl leadership in Western New York region. GSWNY serves nearly 14,000 girls and over 6,000 adult volunteers across a nine county jurisdiction, including Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties. The council’s administrative service centers are located in Buffalo, Jamestown, Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Rochester.


Our Council Story

Timeline

1912-1919

  • 1910 Agnes and Robert Baden-Powell found the Girl Guides in the United Kingdom.
  • 1912 Juliette Gordon Low founds the Girl Scouts of the USA in Savannah, Georgia, with an emphasis on inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance, and service.
  • 1916 Niagara Falls-Margaret Castle obtains a charter #388 for Oak Troop #1 from National Headquarters, signed by Juliette Low.
  • 1917 The Buffalo Council receives their Girl Scouts charter.
  • 1918 The first troop is organized in Rochester with 16 girls and is led by Mary Paris.
  • 1919 Buffalo Girl Scouts are housed in the Social Service building at 181 Franklin St and shortly after they move to the second floor of the Hodge Florist at Delaware and Tupper.

1920-1929

  • 1920 The Rochester Council of Girl Scouts Inc. receives their Girl Scouts charter and opens Camp Castell in Sodus (sold in 1929). The Buffalo Council purchases Camp Green Lake.
  • 1922 The Jamestown Council receives their Girl Scouts charter. The Buffalo Council opens Camp Evans (later sold).
  • 1923 A Charter is established for the Niagara Falls Girl Scout Council and the first Troop in Lockport starts meeting in 1924. The Buffalo Council holds a camp in Allegheny State Park (continues through 1930).
  • 1925 Buffalo’s first Cookie Sale is held.
  • 1928 Jamestown Area Girl Scout Council is incorporated and establishes Camp Newatah (sold in 1964). A Charter is also secured for the Lockport Girl Scout Council.  Internationally, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is formed, and GSUSA is a founding member.
  • 1929 Rochester Council purchases and opens Camp Beech-Wood (sold in 1996).

1930-1939

  • 1930 The Northern Chautauqua Council of G.S., Inc is formed. The Buffalo Council establishes Camp Seven Hills on 200 acres in Holland, NY donated by Dr. and Mrs. Conrad Wettlaufer in memory of their daughter Esther.
  • 1931 During the 17th GSUSA National Convention held in Buffalo, attended by First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, and GSUSA National President Mrs. Edey, Fort Porter (later known as the Peace House) in Front Park is dedicated as the Buffalo Council’s headquarters.
  • 1935 The Buffalo Council dedicates Camp Merrie Mill (sold in 1987).
  • 1936 The Lockport Council holds a day camp program at “The Gulf” or “Violet Alley” (later known as Rollin T. Grant Wilderness Park).
  • 1937 The Batavia Council is formed.
  • 1938 The Niagara Falls Council purchases land that will become Camp Kienka and 80 acres from the Niagara-Lockport Electric Power Company forming Camp Zoar Valley. Lockport Council purchases land on the Erie Canal creating camp Margaret Castle.

1940-1949

  • 1940 The Salamanca Area Council is established with 5 troops.
  • 1942 Northern Chautauqua Council purchases land and establishes Camp Woodelohi (sold in 2001) and Camp Lakota (sold in 1967).
  • 1945 Camp Sky High is purchased (sold in 2012).
  • 1946 The Rochester Council is renamed Rochester and Monroe County Council of Girl Scouts, Inc. and the office is moved to Burke Building on St. Paul in 1948.
  • 1947 Camp Cassadaga is purchased.
  • 1948 The Batavia Council is expanded to include the western end of the county and becomes Genesee Area Girl Scout Council, Inc.
  • 1949 Camp Shady Hollow in Tonawanda is purchased (later sold).

1950-1955

  • 1950 Niagara Falls Council is expanded to include Lewiston, Niagara, Youngstown, Ransomville and Wilson. The Buffalo Council buys Camp Thunderbird Ridge (sold in 1988). Batavia Girl Scouts offices are located at 4 Bank Street.
  • 1951 Cambria escarpment farm is leased with an option to buy. A capital fundraiser makes the purchase of Camp Windy Meadows possible.
  • 1951 The Rochester Council is renamed Girl Scouts of Rochester and Monroe County Inc.
  • 1952 Genesee Area Girl Scout Council moves their offices to 2 Main St.
  • 1953 International Head of WAGGGs, Lady Olave Baden-Powell visits Niagara Falls and Western New York Region and the Buffalo Girl Scout Headquarters moves to 296 Linwood Ave.
  • 1954 All of the councils in Wyoming, Genesee and Orleans counties merge to create Tonnewonta Council.

1956-1959

  • 1957 Batavia Council merges with Tonnewonta Council and held camps in the following locations: Lyndonville Brownie Camp, Medina Brownie Camp, Camp Archbald on Lake Ontario, Kendall Brownie Camp, Camp Tall Trees, and Attica Day Camp.
  • 1958  Niagara and Lockport Councils are incorporated, the two merge in 1959 and move into the United Office Building in 1960. Camp Pinewood’s site is purchased in the town of Dansville.
  • 1959 The Jamestown Area Council, the Northern Chautauqua Council and the Salamanca Area Council merge to form the Chautauqua Area G.S. Council with an office in Fredonia, NY.

1960-1961

  • 1960 Troop Cookie Profits are 2 cents per box.
  • 1960 Rochester opens Pinewood Camp and New Avon Day Camp in 1961.
  • 1961 Genesee Valley Girl Scouts open Camp Deerwood in Arkport (sold in 1982) and Camp Pinewood in Dansville (sold in 2012).
  • 1961 Lady Olave Baden-Powell visits Rochester council, Powder Mill Camporee and Camp Beechwood during her world tour.

1962-1969

  • 1962 Chautauqua Area G.S. board approves the purchase of 733 acres near Randolph, NY to establish a new camp. In 1965 Louise Wood, Camp Committee Chair, announces that the winner of the naming contest is Camp Timbercrest.
  • 1963 The Rochester Council is enlarged to include Livingston County-formerly Dansville Girl Scouts Council, Inc. and the name is changed to Girl Scouts of Rochester and Genesee Valley, INC.
  • 1964 Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley hold their first campout at Oak Orchard Camp (sold in 2012). 
  • 1966 50th Anniversaries are celebrated for the Buffalo and Niagara Councils.

1970-1989

  • 1970 Buffalo Girl Scout Headquarters are moved to 70 Jewett Parkway.
  • 1970 Initial 40 acres of Camp Piperwood are donated by Mrs. Piper as well as an additional 30 acres in 1977.
  • 1971 During the annual meeting of the Tonnewota Girl Scout Council, members vote to consolidate the Rochester and Genesee Valley councils creating the Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley, Inc. The Council moved to 550 East Main Street in Rochester.
  • 1974 First Girl Scout/Girl Guide exchange occurs with Buffalo Girl Scouts and Burnley, England Girl Guides.
  • 1983 The Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley move their offices to 242 Andrews Street.
  • 1984 Chautauqua Area G.S. opens a satellite office in Falconer, NY.
  • 1987 Across Western New York, girls celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Girl Scouting.

1990s

  • 1991 The Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley held thirteen summer day camp programs.
  • 1992 A new centrally located service center is unveiled on 49.3 acres on Horton Rd. near Jamestown. Materials include black cherry and maple from Timbercrest trees.
  • 1994 Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley hold a grand opening for their new office at 14 Franklin Street in Rochester.
  • 1995 Alleghany, Hinsdale, Olean and Portville, all in Cattaraugus County near the PA border and part of a PA Girl Scout Council, become part of Chautauqua Area G.S. Council and in 1999 the Chautauqua Area G.S. Council changes its name to G.S. of Southwestern New York.
  • 1996 Girl Scouts of Genesee Valley hold a grand opening for their new Program Center on John Street in West Henrietta.

2000s

  • 2008 The four Legacy Councils are merged to create the Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY).
  • 2010 GSWNY Buffalo Offices move from Jewett Parkway in Buffalo to Uniland Campus in Depew.
  • 2012 Girl Scouts of USA’s 100th year celebration is held at Niagara Falls State Park and is named “Rock The Falls” with thousands of Girl Scouts from across the country and international Girl Guides attending.
  • 2013 GSWNY Rochester Offices move to the Al Sigl Center.
  • 2020 Girl Scouts of Western New York moves offices from Uniland Campus in Depew to Calspan Campus in Buffalo.
  • 2020 A worldwide pandemic causes programs to be adapted to virtual or in-person with safety measures such as wearing masks and social-distancing.  Girls and volunteers are celebrated for resiliency and service to their community. #GS Strong 
Buffalo Region Interesting Facts
  • On April 18, 1917 Troop #1 named the American Beauty Rose Troop registered in the Buffalo Council. They were led by Mrs. George Trumble a.k.a. Captain and began with 20 girls.
  • Miss Ada Gates was appointed as the first Buffalo Commissioner in 1917.
  • In 1919 the Buffalo Council established a Christmas Toy Shop for children in need.
  • By 1920, 1000 girls in 44 troops were registered in the Buffalo Council.
  • The Buffalo Council’s first Cookie Sale was held in 1925 and the first Brownie Troop was formed in 1927.
  • Camp Green Lake was on loan by the Yates family from 1927 to 2004. To this day girls benefit from the Harry S. Yates Service Unit Camp Out Fund offered by GSWNY.
  • Miss Louise Goodyear held the position of Executive Director from January 1932 until April of 1957, and is commemorated with the naming of Camp Seven Hills, Goodyear.
  • Camp Sky High, south of Orchard Park, was purchased in 1945 and sold in 2012.
  • In 1949 the Buffalo Council began sending girls on canoe trips to Algonquin Provincial Park.
  •  In June of 2017 The Robert L. Mann Environmental Education Center at Seven Hills, Goodyear Side was dedicated. 
Southern Tier Region Interesting Facts
  • Following GSUSA’s protocol of 1939, Marian Town of Troop 9, Forestville, NY sent a letter to the National office describing her many accomplishments in Girl Scouts and requested that she be awarded the Girl Scout Golden Eaglet “knowing that it stands for the best type of girl.” Marian was one of the last girls to receive the award before it was discontinued.
  • In 1956 Girl Scout Alum Lucille Ball attended the premiere of “Forever Darling” in Jamestown. While in town Lucille gifted Mary Sweetin (essay contestant winner and 14 year old Girl Scout) with a Cocker Spaniel puppy that they named “Bob-a-loo”.
  • Camp Timbercrest began Resident Camp programming in 1967. Esther (Skipper) Keyser was the first Director.
  •  In 1995 the Shumack Memorial Pavilion was dedicated at the Jamestown Service Center. The pavilion honors the memory of Junior Girl Scout Jessica Shumack and her mother and troop leader Sharon who both died in a tragic car accident in 1994.
  •  In October of 2017 the Friends of Timbercrest held its first work weekend at Camp. Their mission is “to preserve, enhance and promote Camp Timbercrest in partnership with GSWNY.” Emily Garrick and her mother, Jennifer Schlick spearheaded the forming of the group. 
Niagara Region Interesting Facts
  • The first Niagara Falls Brownie Troop was formed in the early 1930s.
  • In 1938 the Lockport Community Chest collaborated with Girl Scouts and they were named as a participating agency.
  • Peggy Drinkwater Bird won the naming contest for Windy Meadows. The first lodge was built in 1953 and the well was found through the dowsing process (using a branch to find groundwater).
  •  The First Annual Meeting of the Niagara County Council was held on May 25, 1959.
  • In 1963 a dedication ceremony was held for the Anniversary Lodge at Camp Margaret Castle.
  •  On May 17, 1966 the Niagara Falls council celebrated their 50th Anniversary at Treadway-Annual Meeting.
  • In 1969 a fire burned Camp Windy Meadows Lodge.
  •  On June 14, 1970 Heathstone Haven Lodge was dedicated at Camp Windy Meadows and Representative Henry P. Smith spoke to the crowd. 
G.L.O.W and Monroe Region Interesting Facts
  • During World War II, Girl Scouts dedicated much of their time to community service projects. Locally, farm aid projects were organized and proved very successful in aiding cherry picking. Girls also raised a $464.75 Victory Fund, which was sent to National.
  • In 1959 Monroe County-wide events took place during Girl Scout week involving more than 15,000 girls. Each of the 13 districts gave demonstrations on outdoor cooking methods, arts and crafts, camping skills and highlights of troop activities.
  •  In 1962 Girl Scouting reached its 50th anniversary. Local girls celebrated in Highland Park.
  •  Throughout 1962, many girls, volunteers and staff shared their Girl Scout experiences on “Girl Scouts on the Air”, which was a radio program held each Saturday at 12:10pm.
  • In 1964 cookies sold for 50 cents a box and troop profits rose to 3 cents a box. Uniform costs also changed. At the time, the Junior uniform cost $6.50. If you added the tie, belt, beret and socks, the total came to $10.75.
  • In 1967 Behind the Scenes, a Girl Scouts of the USA movie, is filmed in Rochester. The film receives the Brotherhood Award in 1968.
  • In 1968 Girl Scouts of Rochester and Genesee Valley took top honors in an evaluation by GSUSA of its 440 councils. They were rated in the top 5 of every one of the nine categories. Only three councils achieved this honor!
  • In 1987 Barbara Walters spoke at Rochester Plaza during the 75th Anniversary of Girl Scouting Celebration.
  • In 2021 the Al Sigl service center was dedicated in the memory of Judy Cranston former GSWNY CEO. 

Click here to learn more about the GSWNY History Committee and Archives and what they have to offer.


United Way Logo

Girl Scouts of Western New York is supported by United Way funding.