It began life as a summer camp on Lake Allatoona for black Girl Scout troops in 1956.
But Camp Pine Acres appeared it was ending its life in 2017 when the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta found it no longer could financially maintain the 210-acre facility that contained lodges and meeting halls it had built over five decades.
Its story did not end there, however. It is now Pine Acres Retreat, Bartow County’s newest facility available for weekend getaways, family reunions and corporate retreats.
The Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau operates the facility and is marketing it after sinking about $230,000 into renovations, said bureau executive director Ellen Archer.
The money came from the county’s hotel-motel tax which can be used for tourism product development, Archer said..
Archer said her agency’s operating board saw the potential for using a renovated Camp Pine Acres for attracting visitors to the county.
She said it had a secluded, waterfront setting on Lake Allatoona, which made it attractive as a location for weddings or other special events; and already was equipped to offer home-like amenities in a rustic area.
It also was within an hour’s drive of 6 million people; could be easily accessed from I-75; and was secluded enough to serve as a site for retreats, Archer said.
Bartow County government, which leases the site from the Army Corps of Engineers, contributed manpower and materials for roadwork, she said.
The bureau had to reclaim much of the grounds from nature after more than a year of no maintenance, she said.
However, the facility was fenced and locked and in relatively good shape despite not being used for two years. It also had not been vandalized like many such facilities left vacant, she said.
“I was thrilled,” Archer said.
She said the facility is open for business and a few organizations, such as Sam Jones United Methodist Church, have used it for meetings since February.
It also has proven popular as a set for film and TV productions because of its scenic, lakeside views and the fact it can be secured, she said.
Producers of a Netflix series and the new Fox TV dating reality show “Love Story” have filmed scenes there, she said.
However, the bureau plans to host a formal grand opening in May after it completes work on renovation of its swimming pool. It also is hoping the lake’s water levels have dropped far enough to expose its pebble beach and allow kayaking, she said.
The superintendent of neighboring George Washington Carver Park, John Loyd Atkinson, established the camp in 1956 for black Girl Scout troops during the era of segregation in Georgia.
The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta continued to operate it until 2016, when declining registrations and a limited number of cabin units led to significant financial losses and its decision to close the camp.
Now, after its renovations are complete, the convention and visitors bureau will be offering the renamed Pine Acres Retreat as well as George Washington Carver Park — also recently renovated — totaling 600 acres for public use.
Pine Acres will offer three event facilities for large groups, picnic shelters for smaller groups, cabins for overnight lodging and access to its own water sports area with a dock, and Carver Park’s sand beach, Archer said.
Its oldest building, Laurel Hall, is a 4,000-square-foot, formal event facility that can seat 350 and features a full commercial kitchen. Renovations are nearing completion in the building, Archer said.
Mariner’s Lodge is about 2,700 square feet, offers a “rustic setting” and will seat 150. Its focal point is a double-sided rock, wood-burning fireplace and features a lakeside setting, caterer’s kitchen and private guest quarters, according to the bureau’s marketing information.
An open-air venue with covered space for 300 features a stage and preparation rooms.
Air-conditioned cottages can house up to 90 visitors, and an additional 32 platform campsites and bath houses are available. It also will feature an archery range, hiking trails, fishing sites and kayak rentals.
The camp is at 3963 Bartow Carver Road SE in Acworth.
For more information and reservations, call 770-387-1357 or visit https://visitcartersvillega.org/pineacresretreat/.