Property Committee Recommendations

Dear Friends,

Our founder, Juliette Gordon Low said that ‘the work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.’ It is with that charge that I share the recent recommendation of our council board of directors: to sell all four of our Girl Scout camp properties: Camp Conestoga in Scott County, Camp Little Cloud in Dubuque County, Camp L-Kee-Ta in Des Moines County, and Camp Tahigwa in Allamakee County.

This recommendation was not rushed nor was it simple. It follows five years of data collection and many hours of review from our volunteer property committee, and will go to vote at the March 28 board meeting.

Our girls have continued to vote with their participation. Even with our steady growth in membership and increased marketing efforts, there has been an ongoing decline in the number of girls using our camp properties. Meanwhile, the need for improvements to the camps has escalated.

Today’s girls are more interested in adventure and travel opportunities than the rustic camp experiences that our camps were designed for. Cabins, full restroom facilities, climate control, and technology access are important to them and our volunteers, but aren’t available through our current facilities. To bring each property up to speed would require a major redesign of our property infrastructure.

We are strongly committed to using the revenue from the sale to further support the outdoor leadership experience. The sale of the properties will open the door for us to respond to current trends and needs of girls in our council. At the recommendation of the property committee, we’re excited about exploring the development of a new outdoor learning center which could help us meet the expectations of our current Girl Scout membership.

Juliette Gordon Low referred to Girl Scouts as an organization that should not look the same generation after generation. It should change and evolve as girls change. The core values and mission of our program remains the same but our methods of delivering the program must always be in review. Each of our memories will last forever – and the Girl Scouts will continue to build new memories.

Diane Nelson

CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois

Camps will go on as planned this summer. For more information, visit our property plan webpage. For questions and concerns, please email Property@GirlScoutsToday.org.

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63 Responses to Property Committee Recommendations

  1. Beth Hundley says:

    This absolutely breaks my heart.

    • This breaks my heart too as all my four girls loved their Tahigwa experiences. I think that they should keep at least one camp so that the girls who want to attend some functions or events at the camp should be able. It is an affordable experience for many, the travel and European trips are nice but not many families can afford these for their girls. And the cookie sales and all the other sales do not give scout members much money to apply to trips etc. And cookies can’t go higher in price to adjust giving members more $ to apply to trips etc. Any grants out there to utilize for repairs etc?

  2. Kristi Holien says:

    This makes me deeply saddened knowing that in the future the demand may grow again and this could be a very regretful decision that will lead girls into different organizations. I’m not sure what the “answer” is, but I do not believe selling all the Camps is not the answer. I could see Camp Tahigwa being successful as a Reception Hall, Conference Center, even a Campground! There are other options that could create residual income over time.

  3. Kim Williams says:

    . I am 44 years old and attended Camp Little Cloud many times when I was involved in GS years ago. It was one of the best experiences I had as a kid and I still treasures those memories. Now, I have a daughter that has enjoyed many stays at camp and the thought of the camps closing breaks my heart.

  4. Reading through the research data, and having been involved with our camps for 25 years, I am confused. In person, I see girl after girl thrilled to have the experienced they do at Conestoga both camping and horseback riding. Then, I see the data that says 75-80% of girls want to attend camp or outdoor activities at the camps, as well as the data that says 3 out of the top 5 most valued activities in Girl Scouts is camp related. After that, there’s the data that only 15% of our girls use our camps. So, the problem isn’t that they don’t want to use it, but getting them there. What can we do to make it more usable, more available, or provide the willing adults to get the girls out there? Closing the camps all together and removing this as an opportunity isn’t the answer, it only makes the problem worse. An extremely sad day for our council. I am, for the first time ever, sad to say I am a part of this organization.

    • Jane I. Duax says:

      Great research….please keep putting it out there. If 75-80% of the girls want to attend camp and only 15% are able to do, to me that means $$ is an issue. I think our Council needs to use some of it’s $500K in reserves to lower the cost of camp to make it more affordable to parents.

  5. Diane says:

    so why are my girls out there, in sub zero weather, selling these cookies other than to go to camp? The only reason they sell cookies at all is so they can go to camp! They despise the cookie sales. They love meetings and camp. They are in 6th grade and realize both need money and do the sales so they can go to camp. If the camps close would other councils open their camps to our girls?

  6. Julie Kirkpatrick (Counselor-Jinx) says:

    Maybe if we would have had actual resident camping at Tahigwa (the camp with the most stuff to do), we would have seen better results. You’re manipulating the data to make this seem justifiable, when it certainly is not.

    • Jasmine Yates (Counselor- Zim) says:

      Well said. We were limited in our ability to run camp properly because of the constraints that come with doing troop camp (an experience that many of my campers said was less fun than resident camp). Furthermore it doesn’t make sense to sell all four camps. If the council would change their marketing plan and market the camps to a specific group as opposed to a blanket target audience attendance would likely improve. For example, Tahigwa is more appropriate for older campers. If it were marketed as an outdoor adventure camp for 12 up it would be highly successful. This has worked for other camps and it’s upsetting that this supposed ‘rigorous research’ hasn’t tipped the council off to something that obvious.

      • Kelsey Fahey (Counselor - Pern) says:

        I completely agree with the above statements. I put a lot of blood sweat and tears into my years at CLC and I honestly believe that if we are all willing to put in the effort and figure out the things that the council was unable to figure out, we should be able to come to some kind of conclusion that doesn’t involve closing down these establishments forever.

  7. P Lynch says:

    My daughter is just heartbroken at the thought of losing Camp Little Cloud and Camp Conestoga. This was her 1st year in Girl Scouts, and the campgrounds have been her absolute FAVORITE outings.

  8. Roadrunner says:

    So sorry to hear this. I was a counselor at L-Kee-ta for 3 summers in the 80′s (Roadrunner). I have terrific memories of those summers. Although we don’t live in the area, my daughters both attended resident GS camp on the east coast and learned so much about themselves in the process. I hate that girls won’t have the opportunity in that area of Iowa to go to resident camp.

  9. Amy says:

    As a former camper and counselor at CLC, this news breaks my heart. I had hoped and assumed that someday, I could send my girls there for the same magical experiences I had in both camper and counselor role. Surely there is another way? I have a hard time believing this selling the properties Is the best nor only option. Girls in today’s world NEED a place like camp to get away from technology and the business of our world. In fact, it is more crucial today to have a camp experience than ever before. I am extremely disappointed that yet another good thing in this world for kids will be taken away. Another step towards a destructive world in my opinion. Could you please reconsider?

  10. As my troop gets older there are less activities to go and do that do not cost a lot of money. Camping is something that my troop has loved and enjoy and ask to do. We have visited all camps and stay at the two closest ones at least once to twice a year. I know this is a hard decision but I hope that they reconsider keeping something open while decisions are being made for the troops that do use these camps. I’m not quite sure how to inspire my girls to sell products and cookies as the activity they enjoy the most is going away. :(

  11. Krista says:

    This is very sad news. However, your letter is so well written and makes the situation truly understandable. I so appreciate all the experiences at Conestoga, including the grueling swim lessons. I’ll never forget enjoying bug juice and I’ve certainly passed that nickname along.

    Thank you for your hard work.
    Krista

  12. Susan Marek says:

    This decision is crap! Way to break the hearts of hundreds of girls. Some things in life are not about making a profit, but about making memories and giving girls experiences that they can’t gain anywhere else.

  13. Molly says:

    While I try to be reasonable and understanding about changes in the council, this simply does not make sense to me. To give up such wonderful resources, and all at once, seems like a large and risky step to take, and to know that the girls in this council will not have the opportunity to experience camp is truly devastating to me. I hope that the board of directors reassesses this possibility and looks at all other possible choices. Selling camps is not something that can be undone.

  14. Chad Jensen says:

    I agree with the ever changing world of our youth. However I highly disagree with this conversation. My daughter has being going to these camps for 4 years. She is a very shy person, and it was always hard on me to leave her for a week when she did not go with any friends. When I would anxiously pick her up, she had numerous friends to hug good bye along with counselors. Then she would sing me the songs she learned in the way home and tell me how we can make “hobo meals” when we get home. I am very disappointed that this is even being discussed. These are memory’s she will always have, and she keeps in contact with the friends she has made. You just can’t take that away from these girls in the meaningless, computer, technology driven world.

  15. Jane I. Duax says:

    A a 40 year long Conestoga friend of mine suggested we compare Denise Nelson’s “explanation” of why the camps are being sold:

    “Today’s girls are more interested in adventure and travel opportunities than the rustic camp experiences that our camps were designed for. Cabins, full restroom facilities, climate control, and technology access are important to them and our volunteers, but aren’t available through our current facilities. To bring each property up to speed would require a major redesign of our property infrastructure.”

    With the actual origins and purposes of Scouting (Scouting for Girls, 1920):

    “That is why we go into camp a good deal in the Boy Scout and in the Girl Guide movement, because in camp life we learn to do without so many things which while we are in our houses we think are necessary, and find that we can do for ourselves many things where we used to think of ourselves helpless. And before going into camp it is just as well to learn some of the things that will be most useful to you when you get there. And that is what we teach in the Headquarters of the Girl Guide Companies before they go out and take the field. For instance, you must know how to light your own fire; how to collect dry enough wood to make it burn; because you will not find gas stoves out in the wild. Then you have to learn how to find your own water and good water will not make you ill. You have not a whole cooking range or a kitchen full of cooking pots, and so you have to learn to cook your food in the simplest way which means at your hand, such as a simple cooking pot or a roasting stick or an oven made with your own hands out of an old tin box or something of that kind.”[1]

    and also:

    “Camping is a big part of Girl Scouting and begins with simple activities in a Brownie Scout troop meeting. Every Brownie Scout wants to learn the outdoor things that are done in camp.”

    From Leader’s Guide to the Brownie Scout Program
    pp.225-227(1957)

    I think our Council needs to reconsider, gilrs STILL love learning about the out of doors and camping.

  16. Teri (camper, CIT, and counselor) says:

    I’ll bet, if one were to ferret this out a bit, that there is someone who’s family has money and is interested in the land(s) for future development and as an investment and money-maker. I do not believe for one minute that the reason they are selling is because of indoor plumbing and climate control. (And no one who was a Girl Scout believes that either. This is almost like saying, “People no longer want to swim because they get wet when they jump in the water.” No, the ‘reason is nothing more than a smoke-screen. Instead, you can almost bet that someone already has their greedy little eye on that wonderful and vast property.

  17. Jerri Thompson says:

    As a new Brownie Leader this year, this absolutely breaks my heart knowing that I will not be able to take my Troop to camp and to experience it. Unfortunately, my daughter and the other girls didn’t get to experience the whole horseback riding or zip line or canoeing because she was to young.
    Isn’t part of being a girl scout learning about survival? How can a girl learn about survival if they camps close?

  18. laniechipper says:

    The popularity of The Hunger Games shows young girls do want to learn about a “rustic” camp life in the woods. The heroine knows archery, first aid, trailblazing, shelters, building fires, foraging for food and water, much like we learned as campers and taught as counselors at Camp Conestoga.

    The popularity of books like Wild and programs such as Survivor and other outdoor reality programs shows that adults want to learn about a rustic life, too.

    Who can hear an owl, smell the richness of the earth after a rain, feel a cool breeze, listen to insects, watch a spider weave a web in an air conditioned lodge? Perhaps women astronauts who were Girl Scouts slept out under a sky full of stars as campers, as we did onthe prairie at Conestoga, away from bright lights and noisy highways, and became inspired to later travel in space. Will campers become acclimatized to heat and humidity going in and out of air conditioning? Or will they be more uncomfortable noticing how hot it is going in and out of air conditioning and not want to play outside, go on hikes, cookouts, campfires, or other fun outdoor camp experiences?

    Campers can live happily for a week or two without pop machines, computers, indoor plumbing and air conditioning!

    During superstorm Sandy, when a family member in New Jersey was going to be without power for several says, I suggested she make a buddy burner out of tuna cans and larger cans. The last time I made a buddy burner was an a cookout with our Outpost campers at the Singing Tree at Conestoga! Another valuable skill gained at a rustic camp.

    Campers learn a valuable progression of outdoor skills and experiences, have tons of fun, learn songs, crafts, and games, go swimming, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, learn to cook, make lifelong friendships and gain wonderful memories at camp. Please keep Camp Conestoga and the other camps open!

  19. It saddens me to learn of the selling of the camps. My granddaughter attended the “Me and my Gal” in 2011 but the price doubled in 2012 so she didn’t go. I have received several calls in regard to parents being upset over the selling. Couldn’t we at least keep one camp? PLEASE!

  20. Helen Gesell says:

    I’ve been involved in Scouts all of my life. ONCE you sell all that you have, you will no longer have access to any of it. Your best bet is to keep one that is close to centrally located, or has the most to offer in outdoor experiences, and to use the sale of the others to upgrade it. IF you make it cost prohibitive, they will no longer come and you will be the reason of the beginning of the end. I have seen it and experienced it. Please, please reconsider for those girls who want to be a part of the outdoor experience. Do not sell all.

    And do not consider what ‘money’ you will make from the sale as being an ongoing income. Once those properties are gone, that place, that opportunity, will disappear forever… and for what? Cash in your pocket now, will not solve your problems in the future. Nor will it fund things long enough. Every scout council that has gotten rid of it’s property has had problems finding a place to do any outdoor programs.

  21. Wendy says:

    This is VERY DISAPPOINTING! Our troop has enjoyed doing weekend camping at Conestoga for the past several years. Perhaps looking at the COST of camps as the reason why more girls aren’t attending would be a good idea. I know a lot of girls from our troop that would love to attend camp, but the cost i just too high. :(

  22. Bridget says:

    This is very disappointing. I do not see, nor believe that the changes in society today require taking away the value an experience of attending these camps. As an educator I understand the need to modify and adapt to the learning of today’s youth. However, I also see the gaps and lack of knowledge today’s youth have because of being too consumed with all that’s new. Camps provide worthwhile and unique opportunities that teach today’s youth more than a book, technology tool, or even a curriculum can imagine. The sense of sisterhood, teamwork, and friendship a camp experience instills can not, nor do I believe, will not be recreated in a “new outdoor learning center.” This is a sad day for Girl Scouts.

  23. Barb says:

    No organization is ever able to offer one facility that can accommodate all its members. To sell the camps so funds can “create” a new facility is just a waste of time and more money. We see this happening all the time!
    They need to improve what they have, not throw it away based on the last few years of neglect and poor management of these programs. What I think they need is a very involved and creative marketing person to improve the summer camping experience, and convince the council on why we SHOULD have these camps.

  24. Katina White says:

    Why must it be all or nothing? Why not consider keeping one or two of the camps and upgrading along with building a new techo- savvy facility. I’m sure the older girls in my troop would be willing to work for the next two years on collecting funds, hosting fundraisers, etc to help cover the costs with up grading Camp Conestoga or Camp Little Cloud. My troop of 20 girls truly loves their GIRL SCOUT CAMPS! This truly is saddening with obesity and depression on the rise amongst our children that our council would decide that this is the best we can do…. NONSENSE!!! It has been proven that children who grow up with trees and outdoor opportunities have a much less likely chance of becoming obese and suffering from depression. Let’s all get on board and do what’s right!

  25. Cherilyn says:

    Camp is not supposed to be about climate control and technology. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Camping is about disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Its about bugs and dirt, creek stomping and horses. Camp fires and songs. I stayed at Camp L-Kee-Ta many many times. And loved every minute of it! Seeing this brought tears to my eyes!

    My daughter has been in scouts for 4 years now and has not yet been to camp. She desperately wants to go, but as a single mother I cant afford to send her at even the tier C prices. Cookie Sales have become so cut throat, that earning cookies credits to pay for it is impossible. I know girls who are strictly in scouts only to sell cookies. They dont attend any meetings or functions outside of cookie prep and pickup. Why else do you think that attendance is down??? People cant afford those prices! You have girls who are in scouts for cookies and nothing else because their parents want them to sell cookies and nothing else. And having the audacity to say that the girls vote with their attendance appalls me. You ask my daughter what she wants, then you can say you have her vote. Until then keep your words out of her mouth, because you have no idea what she or many other scouts we know want.

    The problem as I see it is that the council has finally lost touch with the scouts themselves. It has become about greed and laziness, and no longer about hard work, fun, volunteering and friends. Is the March board meeting open to the public? Because if it is, I think we all need to get together with our girls and give our vote on the matter!

    • Bethany says:

      Please consider Camptastic at Camp Tahigwa this summer. I will do every thing in my power to get her a campership, because I believe in the importance of camp and every girl, regardless of cost, should be able to attend. Please visit http://www.camptastictahigwa.org for details.

  26. Mary T says:

    It is amazing that girls don’t want to go to camp after reading the comments here. I think the council just doesn’t want to take care of the camps. What is wrong with keeping a camp to be enjoyed by girls who like it? Oh, you would have to take care of it. Is that beyond the abilities of the current council leadership?
    Are you moving towards an urban policy because it might fill some stupid number some one said should be met? If some one did a study and said you should jump off a cliff would you?
    It’s time to listen less to helicopter mothers and more to mothers who have common sense. But, of course that is not something you want to deal with. It might actually mean some work. I am very suspicious you have skewed the numbers to fit your ideas and wonder who was actually used to supply you data.
    My daughter spent about 15 years going to Tahigwa as a camper and as a counselor. How would she have gotten all the experiences she did at a program center? Learning how to be self sufficient and independent? And there’s always the cooking over an open fire which is in all of us former Girl Scouts’ hearts.

  27. Kate says:

    This is so sad. I have so many wonderful memories of Camp Little Cloud. I am heartbroken.

  28. Dan Darland says:

    Respectfully you are simply wrong. A number of girls are joining Venture Crews so they can experience outdoor activities.

    Maybe the Girls Scouts should consider troop summer camps like the boys do. Its a proven model.

    • Jeannette Williamsen says:

      Girls in the Chicago, IL council had “Resident Troop Camp”, as well as Resident Camp, when I was a girl. A core staff supplemented the troop’s leadership team supplying waterfront staff, program director and other employed staff. Troops could come as a group and utilize all the programs the camp had to offer. It works!

  29. Chad Jensen says:

    So what is it? Do we need money? How much? I am a fundraising machine.

  30. Katelyn says:

    I myself have attended Girl Scout camp for 5 years now. This upcoming summer I have been looking forward to being a c.i.t (counselor in training). These camps are what I look forward to every single summer and is my second home. Not to mention, all of the friends I have made. I keep in touch with those girls and it is such a shame to know that there will be no more friendships that will be made. Isn’t there any way we can come up with a way to keep the camps? I bet if you asked any girl that has attended a camp will agree that this is a terrible desicion to make. Closing the camps will take away so many opportunities that have been open to these girls, including me. I am heart broken. There has to be SOMETHING we can do to save these camps.

  31. I feel your pain, as a past counselor and director of Camp Hitaga (Campfire Boys and Girls) I have seen this struggle play out. It is hard for rustic camps to compete with the camps that have nicer bathrooms/showers and in some cases air conditioning. However, I think another drain on possible campers has been sports camps. The trend to focus on being an athlete with a single sport is robbing kids of their opportunity to try other things and to be well rounded.
    I hope that the GS can find an option that works best for the girls.

  32. Joni Kinsey says:

    I am so upset by this proposal that I can hardly function. The Girl Scout camp I went to years ago in another state closed when I was 18 and I’ve never quite gotten over the loss. I cannot bear to think that we are going to do that to our girls. Girl Scout camp was one of the most formative experiences in my life and it is already becoming so for my daughter who has attended Camp Little Cloud for four years. We are more than heartbroken; we are outraged at this move by the council which seems to have completely lost connection with what Girl Scouting is for so many girls and women. Most importantly, I suggest that we–all of us who care about this issue–DO something! We need a groundswell of protest to impress upon the council that girls–now and in the future–need a Girl Scout camp to go to. Of course there are other types of camps they could go to, but only Girl Scout camp is GIRL SCOUT CAMP. This is too important a decision to just accept. What can we do? Let’s get on with it! SAVE GIRL SCOUT CAMP FOR OUR GIRLS: NOW AND FOREVER.

  33. Susan Drechsler Schaecher says:

    Sad to hear the camps are closing …I strongly believe the girls should be able to experience the outdoors atmosphere that these camps offer. Would it be possible to keep one camp running? I stayed at Camp Conestoga as a girl many times and enjoyed being my daughter’s leader and taking her troop there to earn badges and have the same experiences. Was hoping my granddaughters would be able to also learn outdoor cooking camping canoeing and flag ceremonies that we enjoyed. Sad day to think cabins need air conditioning

  34. Donna Huberty says:

    I am 71 years old and attended Camp Little Cloud as a youngster. This is where I learned how to swim and make smores! My family farm was right next to the camp and my father used to cut their grass with his tractor mower. All of my girls went to camp in the summer time also. Oh those camp fire songs-how they loved them. Keep Camp Little Cloud alive!

  35. Susan Drechsler Schaecher says:

    My sister and I were scouts, our troop spent many nights there and the cool thing was when I became my daughters leader we took her troop of 12 girls there also…there is nothing more rewarding than young girls cooking their food over a campfire, hiking in the woods and learning things along the way, canoeing, flag ceremonies, camping and just getting the girls out in the fresh air. Getting out in the wilderness is a chance for the scouts to learn important skills, it’s sad to think that heated and air conditioned cabins, technology, and full facility restrooms are all that will be available to this era of scouting, these things can be found in a hotel…we took for granted that our camps would always be there, I hope they reconsider.

  36. 1000truths says:

    I would just like to point out that when I was younger, I loved going to Camp Little Cloud. I’m sure everyone knows that camp was in the hottest part of the summer, and when I attended, there was absolutely no air conditioning anywhere, and the buildings were ungodly hot, and everyone was always sweating. But you know what? We didn’t care. You know why? Because even though we sat inside with our clothes sticking to our bodies, it was still the best part about summer. We didn’t care that we were hot and sweaty, because we loved camp THAT MUCH!!!!!!! If you get rid of this experience, how will our children ever know the wonder that was and still is Camp Little Cloud? I can honestly say that it was the biggest highlight of my summers as a little girl. To sell it would be like selling a piece of my childhood, as well as others. I’m sure many people can agree with me here. At least keep one camp open so our daughters can experience the fun and wonder of camp and outdoor life.

  37. Donna Frye says:

    Please find a way to keep the camps and show the “city” girls life in nature!! It’s necessary for them to know not everywhere is made with cement and sidewalks! Give them a chance to learn about life without all the conveniences…as we all know – they may not have them some day and need them!!

  38. I sincerely hope the camps do not close, both of my daughters were Girl Scouts and absolutely LOVED going to camp. They learned new skills, met friends, and always had fun stories to tell upon their return. I hope girls in the future will have the same opportunity to experience camp as mine did.

    Melissa Anderson

  39. Beth Burlingame says:

    I shared my thoughts on the petition to save our camps but will summarize my thoughts here as well. GSCEIWI please listen to our voices and utilize our energy to save the GS camps of Eastern Iowa and Western IL. I speak as a child and family psychotherapist and as a Camp Conestoga Alumni who spent 15 years of my life as a camper and counselor at Camp Conestoga. The problem solving and frustration tolerance skills, as well as, the appreciation of nature girls develop in a rustic camp setting can not be matched by developing an upgraded center infused with technology. I did my masters thesis at Smith College School for Social Work on the benefits of team building activities in a rustic camp setting for adult women. The results of this thesis can be generalized for girls. It suggested that women develop increased self esteem from participating in such adventure based activities while also reaching individual interpersonal goals, e.g., assertiveness, the ability to listen to others, the ability to compromise etc.

    It is the responsibility of GSCEIWI to help its girls and their parents learn the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of its camps rather than water down our programs such that they no longer provide the benefits that today’s girls so desperately need.

    Respectfully,

    Beth Burlingame, LLCSW

  40. Jane I. Duax says:

    Wow, Beth! I hope they listen to your professional opinion!

  41. jmc3202 says:

    The unfortunate part of this is there re so many new young troops that aren’t even old enough to attend a full camp experience. My 8 year old Brownie is counting the days that she will be old enough to attend horse camp.
    Reach out to the troops of those that are up and coming. I agree with some of the other posts that if more can be done to bring costs down it would help. If camp exists for my daughter she will get to go whether it is through cookie sales or us sacrificing other wants.

    Please reconsider this closure and give the Girl Scouts a chance to save the camps.

  42. jmc3202 says:

    The camping experience was one of the things that my daughter was most excited about when she started as a Daisy. Now as a first year Brownie she knows she is getting old enough to think about going to camp – especially horse camps in the future and she is so excited. The costs are high; however, somehow we will make this happen for her.

    This world is so inundated with technology, text messaging, climate controlled environments and schedules busting at the seams that these natural experiences are so far and few between. I look forward to my daughter experiencing camp and telling her that it won’t be there in the future is such a disappointment as a parent – I can’t imagine what her 8 year old response will be over this decision.

    Please find a way to not sell all of these camps. Are there consolidation opportunities? Are there volunteer opportunities to help wih the refurbishment of the camps – such as a parent volunteering time to help refurbish grounds or buildings – could that be used as credit earned towards camp tuition?

    As a parent, I know I could never recreate this valuable experience that has been provided Girl Scouts through these camps.

  43. Jane I. Duax says:

    I am trying to get my two kids “unplugged” from their toys. With the advent of playstation, DS, XBox, Tablets, cell phones, laptops, desk tops, ipads, ipods, and mp3′s, I would almost be thrilled if they just watched a little TV for a change….but actually they usually have that going while doing one of the above. I want my 10 year old girl scout and 12 yr old son, who are quite active in sports, to have the opportunity to go to the woods, become unafraid of daddy-long legs, hear the sound of an owl, “…feel a cool breeze rustle through the trees, smell the rich earth after a rain, or be as close with nature as generations of Girl Scouts (and boy scouts) had before them.” My kids like camping with me….but to go with a group of their peers, to experience a different sort of unity that comes from sleeping, playing and working together in the out-of-doors, “…to learn to explore, discover, and become more self-reliant and confident young women.” (Or men by experiencing boyscout camp.) I saw first hand, by growing up with a group of girls, over 15 summers at Camp Conestoga, as Walt Whitman wrote, “Now I see the secret of making the best persons, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”

  44. Cathy D (Red) says:

    My daughter, a second generation CIT graduate of Conestoga (I was a CIT there in the 60s, she in the 90s) sent me this news last week. I have not been able to get it out of my head – or heart – since then.

    It makes no sense to me to close four properties – two of which I am intimately familiar with as I spent years camping at Conestoga, counseling at Little Cloud, and working as the camp nurse at Conestoga – and then to build build an “outdoor center” in an attempt to replace them.

    Statistics can be massaged to suit one’s wishes…and I suggest looking again at the fact stated in the news release that “only 10%” of the girls in the council attend camp. In a council consisting of 20000-some girl members, this means that 2000 or so girls (and their leaders!) use these facilities. That will be 2000 girls who will be denied all that camp has to offer…all the amazing and important opportunities for development that have been mentioned in previous posts. In addition it appears that there is another sub-population of girls in the council who would LIKE to go to camp, but who cannot afford it.

    Instead of closing all the camps, why not figure out a way to underwrite the camp experience. For example, if you sold two camps, I wonder how far the proceeds from that would go towards upgrading the others AND providing assistance (for many years to come) to girls whose families cannot afford the entire cost of camp.

    As to girls “wanting” indoor plumbing and “technology” – there are plenty of places to get those in our world today, including home and school, where our daughters spend much of their time. Let our girls have these wonderful wild places where they can learn firsthand the beauty of nature and the peace of the woods and water – where they can join friends around a campfire, learn to be self sufficient, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

    As others have pointed out, once gone these incredible magical places are not replaceable – nor will an urban “outdoor center” be able to provide all the myriad experiences that can be gained at camp.

    Shame on the property committee for developing such a proposal! Shame on the board of directors for making the recommendation!

    • Jim and Kayla says:

      Well said, and I agree. The sale of all four seems a bit defeatist to say the least.

      With our child on the way in July, my wife and I had already agreed that we’d encourage our girl (assuming at this point) to join the Girl Scouts, because we agree with the well rounded experience that Girl Scouting fosters. To us, the camp aspect is important, for many of the same reasons others have stated so well in this thread.

      I wonder if the problem is more with the parents than the girls. As I noted earlier, I catch a whiff of Vander Plaats possibly. If so, one must look at the full record of such individuals, and the pure evil they represent.

  45. Brenda Silkman says:

    In 1918, when the first Girl Scout camp opened, the idea was to give girls a NEW experience in a NEW setting. In 2013 are we trying to negate the original premise of camp? Girls are inundated with technology and the “comforts of home” at home, school, and most other places in society. Why would we want to close all four camps and then open an Outdoor Center that incorporates the very things rustic camp was designed to avoid?

  46. Jim and Kayla says:

    I smell Bob Vander Plaats, I’d recognize that stench anywhere.

  47. Jenae says:

    I cannot believe that the idea of selling all four camps is the only solution! Being in girl scouts as a child, I missed the opportunity to go to camp because my family could not afford it and truthfully I was too scared to go alone. By continuing to not do things because I was scared as I child, I missed out on alot of opportunities. It took me years to get out of my shell. As I raise my three daughters I noticed that same trend with them and wanted immediately to break it. My oldest daughter started going to camp, no matter how I could scrounge up the money and pay tier c prices and get camp cookie credit. Her first summer to camp was like a changed girl, already talking about how she would go to camp even if her friend could not go the next summer! Independence, confidence, I can, I can, I can….. that all came from her week at camp! Since then she is involved in all sorts of activities and is always willing to try new things! My next two girls have missed out on that opportunity as the only choices became troop camping with their leader mommy. Not really the best ideal to foster independence, but they still loved it anyway! When Tahigwa took away horses, that was what took my oldest daughter away from camp and right into the arms of another (non GS) campground close by with an amazing horse program. She didn’t want technology, she didn’t care if there was air conditioning! She wanted the camp experiences and horses! Girl Scouts started that interest for her than took it away. Last year none of my mixed troop of girls could go because they switched camp to the month of June. Everyone in the month of June who participates in sports of any kind in northeast iowa can’t go to camp!
    I feel like the councils data is off. I do believe that some girls maybe need more of a roof over their heads, but I don’t believe that air conditioning and technology is the answer to that. I’d like to know where they think that they will be able to buy land that has a river or creek close by for tubing and creek stomping and a woodland/prairie area to explore that they are going to be able to afford even if they sell all 4 camps? Also that is assuming they have buyers in place or that they have to wait for money till all 4 are finally sold, which could take years. This land that they want to purchase, would it be farm land or wooded acres, have they checked out what that kind of land goes for these days? I am a farmers wife and let me tell you, sons of farmers can’t even afford to go into the family business anymore because the land is so expensive! The council already owns four properties and although it would be hard to sell one, because everyone has their favorite, sometimes you have to do it for the greater good. I think you need a camp on each end of the council area and one in the middle. Which property would be the easiest to sell? The one with the flatest ground that a farmer or developer could develop. If my memory serves me correctly L-Kee-Ta would be the flatest of all, but am not sure if that would have the most acres to sell. Start with one camp based on sale ability, have a plan in place to make upgrades on two of the other camps, see how that goes and if there is still an issue, sell the second camp that did not get up graded. Does eveyone want to keep all four camps, yes they do, but if it isn’t feasible then we have to try to keep as much as we can.
    In my mixed troop I see so many girls who need camp so they can grow and gain the confidence and become strong girls of character, girls who will grow into women who help run this world and make it a better place. I thought that was the experience we were trying to give our girl scouts, not the importance of physical things like technology and air conditioning. If this sale goes through my girls will not be coming to the new “technology center” we will be going to the sweaty horse camp close by to gain experiences that you will never get with technology. And I guess we can stop selling cookies too as we won’t need cookie program credit anymore.

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