The first time Joanne Nelson recited the Girl Scout Law, she pledged to do her best to be friendly and caring, courageous and strong, to make the world a better place, and to be a sister to every Girl Scout.
More than 50 years later, Nelson is still making good on that pledge.
Starting as a Brownie Scout, Nelson stayed involved with the organization, becoming a program aide at a local day camp as a teenager and then as a counselor at Camp Woodelohi in Cassadaga.
In 1967, Nelson was hired as the Assistant Camp Director at the newly opened residence camp, Camp Timbercrest, in Randolph. She was promoted in 1969 and served for 10 years as the Camp Director. In the 1990s, she served as president of the Girl Scout Council and led the dedication of the Girl Scout Program and Service Center on Horton Road in Jamestown.
Of the thousands of scouts who have visited the outdoor centers, Nelson noted that many of them have grown into community leaders who remain involved in giving back locally.
“I loved my time at Camp Timbercrest,” Nelson said. “I saw so many good things happen there, including watching our counselors grow into doing amazing things.”
Recently, Nelson created a designated fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to ensure that future generations of Girl Scouts will be able to enjoy similar experiences.
The Girl Scouts of Western New York Maintenance Fund provides annual support for the outdoor maintenance and future enhancements at the Jamestown Service Center and Camp Timbercrest.
“These two properties provide our girls with views and vistas, room to hike and explore, a wide variety of flora and fauna, and so much more,” Nelson stated. “It is imperative that both properties be maintained so they can continue to be accessed, used and enjoyed by our girls.”
According to Nelson, working with the Community Foundation to create this fund just made sense.
“I really believe in the Community Foundation,” she said. “It is one of the best assets in our community and helps hundreds of people do good things every year.”