Girl Scouts' local campsites saved for now

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Girl Scouts Michaela Pittman, left, Katelyn Dowdy, right, and Emma Schwendemann search for items in the woods while on a scavenger hunt Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at Camp Sacajawea. (Fred Lynch)

After months of writing letters and emails or concern, local Girl Scouts have been given an opportunity to save area campsites.

Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland's board of directors reviewed 10 properties and formed a committee to suggest which properties should be renovated and which should be divested. Six camps, including Camp Latonka near Wappapello Lake in Wayne County and Sacajawea East near Cape Girardeau, were placed on the list of properties for divestment.

When the board met Friday to make a decision, it instead voted unanimously to allow local communities additional time to work with the council to "develop sustainable long-term viable plans" for supporting the properties, according to a Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland news release.

Brownie Girl Scout Julianne Oliver makes a soap carving Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at Camp Sacajawea. (Fred Lynch)

Lori Enyart, public relations manager for the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, said the board encouraged input from community members and volunteers and took those suggestions into consideration before casting votes. She said the board received more than 200 letters and emails from "community members, alumnae and volunteers."

Karen Hann, who wrote some of those emails, is service unit manager for Girl Scouts of Cape Girardeau and leader of Troop 50336. When on June 10 she took her troop to a five-day day-camp at Sacajawea East to teach the girls basic outdoors skills, she was afraid it would be for the last time.

"Last year marked 100 years of scouting, so in honor of that we came out here and buried a time capsule that would be dug up in another 30 years," Hann said. "All the girls got so excited talking about how they wanted to do that again this year and how they couldn't wait to bring their daughters out here one day and dig it up. We weren't really sure how to explain to them why we weren't doing one again this year."

Kristin Anderson, left, and Anna Schuchardt make Fathers Day cards in crafts class Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at Camp Sacajawea. (Fred Lynch)

In the 32 years the Girl Scouts have owned Sacajawea East, Hann said, summer camps have been held there for at least 25 years. She said local troops also use the area for bridging ceremonies -- which celebrate a scout advancing to a new level in Girl Scouts -- flag ceremonies and various outdoor activities.

In its report, the committee formed to review Sacajawea and other properties cited lack of use as one reason for divestment. Hann said she could not speak for other properties, but knew the local camp was fairly popular; this year's day camp had 180 scouts and volunteers in attendance.

"They [Girl Scouts] own this property. It's already paid for," Hann said. "It's pretty low maintenance. I was shocked when they said they were going to sell it."

The entrance to Camp Sacajawea is seen Wednesday, June 12, 2013 north of Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

The board again will visit the issue of divestment in November. Enyart said the next step by the board will be to "develop criteria and standards to develop sustainable long-term plans for supporting Girl Scouting, including retaining and maintaining all other Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland program properties that were recommended for divestment."

"Local members will come up with proposals based on that criteria and submit them to the board before the November meeting," she said. "Then, the board will evaluate those proposals and make a decision."

After the board posted a news release stating its final vote, Hann in an email said her service unit "will be gathering ideas and setting up some meetings to help save Camp Sacajawea."

"It's hard to find common interest in such a large group of girls with such a wide age range, but they all enjoy camping," Hann said. "And they need it. Where else are they going to learn the difference between poison ivy and regular leaves?"

srinehart@semissourian.com

388-3641

Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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