Property Communications

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.

We realize many of you have read this quote by our founder Juliette Gordon Low. This is what we think about when we are faced with change. We have heard from so many of you about the recommendation that were presented to our Board of Directors from our volunteer Property Committee, and we want to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the recommendations:

  1. Sell all four current camp properties, which are 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.
  2. Initiate a feasibility study to explore development of a program center/outdoor facility within our council, centrally located near good transportation corridors.
  3. Research existing organizations within the geographic region and be proactive in partnering to use their facilities in the future.

These are recommendations and will not be voted on until the end of March. The Board of Directors and Property Committee felt very strongly about giving our members a chance to process the recommendations and share their thoughts and ideas.

This wasn’t a simple task. These recommendations stem from five years of work as the property committee collected data, surveyed members, and talked to volunteers. Here is what they found:

  • 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. Less than 10% of our membership utilizes our camp properties
  • The declining income, resulting from substantially lower attendance, could not keep up with escalating operating costs
  • The council is subsidizing 55% of our camp facility operating costs
  • Many of our girls are more interested in adventure and travel opportunities than the rustic camp experiences that our camps were designed for and currently offer
  • 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

If the recommendation is accepted, the board is looking forward to the possibility of the development of a new program center/outdoor facility within our council and using the revenue from the sale to support the outdoor leadership experience. This new facility could open the door for us to respond to current trends and needs of girls in our council.

It is important to remind everyone that camp will be open this summer and will go forward as planned. We are also committed to having outdoor programs for our girls every year regardless of the Board of Directors decision.

Your input is extremely important. Please take the time to send your ideas, thoughts and recommendations to Every email will be shared with the voting members of our board. We also invite you to attend any of the town hall meetings.

For more information and supporting documents, go to

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5 Responses to Property Communications

  1. boyers says:

    Thank you for the information.Our recommendation as a Scout Leader,Senior Scout and Supporting dad,why not keep one camp central to all,and see how that fares and if it doesn’t work then sell that one sort of like tossing all abbies out with the bath water.We know this is not an easy decision for any of you,goodluck with how you proceed.Our Senior Scout hollered yipee when she saw summer camp is still on,so at least you can count on one happy camper.Take care.

  2. Shirley Ungerer says:

    I can not believe that you are taking away the camps. You say you put the girl first. Like where?
    After your pocketbooks? You’ve taken away the programs for our area (2hrs. to get anywhere
    at least). You take their cookie money for your salaries. Be truthful! and now camp. Camp
    Tahigwa was the one place we could take our girls. It did not depend on if you had the money
    to go or not. Most big programs , you need money. Maybe you should put the girl back in
    girl scouts, instead of just talking about it.

  3. Colleen Rice says:

    Why not give us (the volunteers who do this solely for the purpose of enriching girls lives) the opportunity to try and make changes to our programming in order to increase numbers at camp? You can’t give up without exploring all options and trying as hard you can. Camp L-Kee-Ta has been a part of my life for 25 of my 30 years. I learned so many skills and lessons that it has made me the person I am today. I do not have children and I am a Leader and Service Unit Director. I thought my positions would have atleast entitled me to have some prior knowledge of the possibility to sell the camps. I guess a phone call from my RMM 2 hours before the press release was good enough in there eyes. I hope I can “keep my eye on the prize”, which is putting the GIRL first in Girl Scouting. But, I’m not sure how much longer I can be a leader of a girl organization that I am losing FAITH in…

  4. Linda Tiller says:

    Board of Directors and Property Committee
    Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois

    I read the statement of Diane Nelson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, regarding her recommendation to sell the camp properties of Camp Conestoga, Camp Little Cloud, Camp L-Kee-Ta, and Camp Tahigwa. While I am sure this decision was difficult and budgets these days require us to do so much more with less money, I feel I must speak up for the Girl Scouts who would enjoy the wonderful life-changing experiences that Girl Scout Camp offers while relishing the absolute wonders of the natural surroundings and habitats of animals and plants not seen anywhere in urban settings.
    Although I support use of modern technologies and am a certified Media Specialist by profession, I cannot endorse wholesale destruction of a valuable life experience that camping and fellowship with others in a natural location gives. How sad that our younger citizens may not really know the fun and good times of face-to-face friendships, may not be able to fully experience learning true survival skills in a natural environment, and may not be able to develop or have a truly enriched appreciation for the world of nature.
    Having been an Iowan Girl Scout and experienced camping, I believe young people deserve human connections with each other and with wildlife. The continual intrusion of electronic social networking and cyberspace that cell phones, computers, and other electronic media continually insert into our daily lives often makes human connections remote and experiences with the natural environment unavailable. Young people have many occasions to use electronic messaging and Skype-type associations at school, home, and in their cars 24/7, but they have few real chances to do outdoor hiking or take delight in late night stories around the fire ring.
    How can we expect to encourage and develop direct communication and cooperation with others if we do not provide venues and opportunities for these face-to-face encounters? To help young people learn tactful ways to deal with others and actually work side-by-side with one another is a skill that can’t be covered in an eight or sixteen hour seminar in a conference center, beautifully designed or not. We cannot encourage protection of wildlife and natural habitats by looking at pictures on the Internet. Sending messages to others on Facebook or Twitter about reusing aluminum does not necessarily get the soda can put into the recycling bin. People must have the authentic experience of living among the squirrels and wild flowers to appreciate what we will lose if we do not protect the natural environment. Hands-on involvement beats lecture ANY TIME.
    As I age, I agree that comforts such as air conditioning and modern bathrooms are important. But I also think that young people can enjoy these conveniences even more when they must learn to deal with somewhat simpler conditions. Life will not always hand us lemonade in a pretty container—we all have to learn to take the lemons and make the drink ourselves occasionally. We NEED some quiet at times. We need to unhook from our iPhones and iPads. We live lives with such fast pacing that real conversation and interaction these days is almost nonexistent. We have no “Me Time” to even connect with ourselves without constant agitation from commercials and popups. In a pastoral scenic setting, such as a Girl Scout cabin in the woods, young people can learn to know themselves and their fellow Girl Scouts. An overnight escapade with friends of your own age makes memories that last a lifetime! There just is NO substitute for the real adventure you can create yourself.
    What would I suggest? While an outdoor learning center with all the latest technologies sounds wonderfully clean and sleek, I propose, instead, that you redevelop and improve one of the existing camps (Camp Tahigwa?—located near both eastern Iowa and western Illinois) to its fullest potential. Use your budget to improve the restrooms there, put in an Internet center if you must, fix up the cabins, and let the girls have an outdoor experience that keeps the environment healthy and gives the girls a setting they can find no other place. Make it a location where they can work with each other for an extended time. Let them learn that they are connected to others with the human touch, and not entirely with a touch screen. Let them hear the birds sing in the early morning and before dusk. Let them have some fun with something that doesn’t require battery life or an electric cord. Do we not owe our young people the chance to see if a week or weekend in the woods could expand their experiences and refresh them?
    In closing, I want to share a poem that speaks to keeping Girl Scouts connected to each other and to nature:
    A Tree for the Future

    Every spring
    The sap rises in the trees
    From root to branch
    And makes a tree that looks dead
    Blossom with green leaves
    And life.
    So it is that the Scouting Spirit
    Rises within you and
    Inspires you to put forth
    Your best.

    ~by Juliette Gordon Low
    Quoted at:

    It is my hope that you carefully consider all consequences in closing these Girl Scout camps. Please, do not throw out the “baby with the bathwater;” that is, do not think that because camp attendance has declined that new ideas and affection for the camps are not out there. Ask for other ideas from Scout Leaders and community leaders. Better yet, ask the GIRLS.

  5. mary lou cotton says:

    i too think the Council is looking at once again the all mighty dollar. Life is not always about money. Most of the girl scout families don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around. Most of the girls even if the trips and adventures are offered don’t have the money to invest in these trips of luxury. They may want the experiences and i encourage them to dream and dream big. it takes a lot of hard work for the girls without the money to go on these adventures – (again that is not a bad thing). But it takes a lot of parental support and leader support to get that acomplished and not all girls have that support.

    i also don’t feel the board is being Honest with us as a membership. I think they have already made their decision and are bent on throwing the camps away. i’ve even heard the rumor there is a buyer for Camp Tahigwa already lined up. Isn’t one of our Girl Scout laws – Be honest?

    But you know life goes in cycles, some skills that are out dated now, just may need to come back in the future. Some girls now get everything they want and may need the experience of doing things for themselves and figuring out how to make do and be innovative. That is where the outdoors and camping experiences come in. The urban girls may have never seen wildlife in action, or have to take care of animals, do chores, plant food or process food. I once had a 7th grade girl who didn’t know how to peel and apple.

    i’ve been in the GS orgranization for almost 50 years. I spend a lot of time at Camp Tahigwa. i was a leader until the GS National camp up with the survey that Girls needed younger leaders and and younger roles models. So i bowed out as a leader. I was hurt that they didn’t think OLD people could be good role models. What happened to Diversity!

    Girls and young people in general are stressed these days. They need the solitude of camp, a chance to get away from their cell phones, make new friends and to feel the peace and wonder of nature. i come away from Tahigwa feeling relaxed and grounded – ready to face whatever life has in store for me. I hate to see that taken away. Girls can go to a hotel if they want to have all the other conveniences.

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