Proposed sale of Missouri Girl Scout camp stirs fight

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 3:15 p.m. CDT

JOPLIN — The board of directors of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland will vote Friday on whether to sell a Girl Scout camp in southwest Missouri that has been serving scouts since 1946.

The board's staff has recommended that Camp Mintahama, a 180-acre acre resident camp nine miles south of Joplin, be sold and closed at the end of the 2015 camping season, The Joplin Globe reported. The board also will decide whether to close Latonka Program Center resident camp in Wayne County.

If the board closes Mintahama, the nearest resident Girl Scout camp would be more than 90 minutes away at the Finbrooke Program Center at Rogersville in Christian County.

A group of volunteers studied the issue for more than two years. The recommendation to close the camp was made after it was determined that fewer than 5 percent of the membership attends the camp, according to Anne Soots, CEO of Girls Scouts of the Missouri Heartland.

"When you look at participation numbers versus the cost of maintaining the properties, you have to determine how you allocate those dollars to best benefit all girls across our 68-county jurisdiction," Soots said in a news release announcing the recommendation.

The properties also need significant upgrades, Soots said, and the council cannot afford to maintain every site to the standards that girls and parent expect.

A group of Camp Mintahama supporters met last week to consider whether there was any way to save the camp. A Save Camp Mintahama Facebook page had nearly 800 "likes" on Wednesday.

Jessica Stoerger, who started the Facebook page, said she camped at Camp Mintahama during several summers, worked as a camp counselor and is now the leader of a Girl Scout troop in Seneca. She said her experiences there helped her decide to become a fisheries and wildlife biologist and she is afraid if the camp closes, Girl Scout membership in the area would decline.


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