The Best Master Plans Leverage Member Input. Here’s Why.

Posted on March 17, 2022 by Karin • Filed under: , , , , , ,

Master planning is a complex process, particularly when planners and architects develop a plan covering multiple sites. At Patriquin Architects, we’ve found that it’s essential to engage staff, other site users, and visitors and get their input on how they envision the optimal environment.

Collaborating with Connecticut Chapter of Girls Scouts of America

Our team is thrilled to be working with the Connecticut chapter of the Girl Scouts of America on a project to update their campsites in Connecticut. In collaboration with the master planning and landscape architecture team at SLR, we embarked on a series of member engagement activities to help guide the design of both the overall planning of each camp and of the individual buildings within the camps.

Collaboration of Patriquin Architects (Jennifer Shea & Karin Patriquin) and SLR (Suzanne Rigby Schore & Liz Esposito)  with the Girl Scouts of Connecticut

Outreach to young and older campers, alumnae, and staff gave a voice to the people best positioned to envision the enhanced facilities and sites.

Gaining Insight Through On-Site Activities

To see Girl Scouts of America sites from campers’ perspective, we created several activities suitable for girls of different ages that posed important questions about camps in general and specific buildings. Then, we trekked to multiple camp locations to meet with campers during the summer camp season.

Engaging Girl Scout campers, troups and staff at camps in Connecticut

Popsicle sticks and jars, posters with colored dots, and props such as large models were some of the elements we brought to create engaging activities. Campers could complete these fun activities quickly and we were able to glean ideas from the girls and assess their preferences.

Expanding Our Perspective Through Online “Fireside Chats”

Our research continued beyond the summer camp season and the ranks of current campers. To ensure we had a broad perspective on what to include in our designs, we connected with other stakeholders online. We empowered troops, off-season campers, and alumnae to share their input in activities similar to those we conducted on-site but online, moderated by our masterplanning team.

Virtual sessions bring the activities to a wider audience

Using that tool, participants shared their thoughts in a game-like environment and saw real-time results. The addition of the online option for providing input allowed people who care very deeply about the Girl Scout experience but are not currently campers to participate.

Input and Aspirations

Before creating our designs for the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, we wanted to understand their aspirations for the updated camps and facilities. To that end, it was crucial to learn what matters to the campers as they age and return to camps through several summers.

Tallying the results from our in-person and online interactions enabled us to understand their input and determine their preferences for various facilities. This included:

  • new features – treehouses, ropes course or zipline
  • sleeping accommodations – transitioning from the comforts of home for the youngest girls to multi-day camping for the oldest
  • dining halls – flexible arrangements for tables, natural light, fans
  • updated pool house design – what matters most
  • and the cherished cook shelters that are such a big part of the experience for campers.

Our Unique Approach to Collaboration during Master Planning

This member engagement phase—in collaboration with landscape architects and master planners—was a wonderful way to immerse ourselves in camper culture and get to know a large group of people who will be enjoying the camps in the future.

Postcards from the future: what future campers will be writing home about!

We now feel that we understand the ideas and hopes for the future of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut much better. What we heard, saw and discussed has already helped inform our designs and will continue to do so as we continue our work with the organization.

Learn More About Patriquin Architects

If you have questions about our Project with Girl Scouts of America—or any new build or renovation project—please get in touch with us at your convenience. You can also learn about our firm’s award-winning services online.