Camp Security needs more friends -- the kind willing to open their checkbooks to help preserve the Revolutionary War prisoner of war camp.

The property off Locust Grove Road in Springettsbury Township -- believed to have held about 1,500 captured British soldiers between 1781 and 1783 -- was named one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" in 2005 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The nonprofit Conservation Fund stepped in last year, agreeing to use bridge financing to buy the land from developer Timothy Pasch for $1.05 million -- and giving local preservation group Friends of Camp Security a year to reimburse it.

At that point the property would be turned over to the township, which would open it to the public.

Unfortunately, fundraising hasn't gone as smoothly as the preservationists probably expected.

The original deadline to close on the property was May 8, but township officials recently pushed back the date Aug. 21, giving the local group more time to come up with the money.

How much of the $1.05 million is still needed isn't exactly clear.

Friends of Camp Security had only raised about a tenth of its $400,000 goal by last week, although the organization's president, Carol Tanzola, said a recent national news story drummed up more financial support from around the country.

Tanzola said she wasn't sure how much more money the Friends needed.


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The Conservation Fund had agreed to commit $600,000 toward the purchase, but it's also still trying to raise that amount. However, Todd McNew, Pennsylvania state director of the group, said a large, anonymous donation will put preservationists in reach of the goal.

While no one is being specific, it certainly sounds like the groups have their work cut out for them as they enter the home stretch.

Hoping to raise awareness of its effort, the Friends of Camp Security are hosting a private gathering and a public display to showcase artifacts found during the 1979 archaeological dig on just 2 acres of the 47-acre site.

The public exhibit -- which runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the York County Heritage Trust's Museum and Library building, 250 E. Market St. -- will include 18th-century coins, buttons, clasps and ceramics.

Also shown will be original documents and reproductions of drawings attributed to Sgt. Roger Lamb, who was imprisoned at the camp and escaped in 1782.

It's a smart move -- a tangible way for people to connect to the site -- and one the groups probably should have considered sooner.

Right now, however, it's crunch time.

Because in a few short months, if too few people care about it, the site goes back on the market, likely to become yet another housing development some time in the future.

People now need to decide what, if anything, it's worth to them to save an irreplaceable piece of York County and American history.