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Camp Sacajawea faces threat of closure

August 7, 2013

in Local

By Randy Kirby
Managing editor

Pettis County Girl Scout Unit #718 has scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Camp Sacajawea to discuss the future of the highly popular Girl Scout camp, located on Sacajawea Road just southwest of Sedalia.

The Missouri Heartland Board of Directors will be meeting for two hours with local community members to provide information and answer questions about plan development. The public is invited and encouraged to attend and ask questions.

Girl Scout Camp Sacajawea, has been used by local girl scouts since 1942, has been recommended for divestment by the Council. Local girl scout troops use the camp for camping, monthly meetings and special events and ceremonies. They also use the facility for storage of equipment and supplies, as well as a distribution point for Girl Scout cookies every year. Without Camp Sacajawea, all the equipment owned by the local troops will have to be stored elsewhere in a safe place, or divied up among various parents’ and troop leaders’ homes.

On June 14, the Board, based out of Springfield, voted to move forward with the property committee’s recommendation, but also voted unanimously to allow local communities additional time to work with the Council “to develop sustainable, long-term viable options for supporting Girl Scouting, including retaining and maintaining all other Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland program properties that were recommended for divestment.”

Divestment is defined as the reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical or political objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm. A divestment is the opposite of an investment.

The local Girl Scout Camp, known as “Sacajawea West” by Council, is just one of five camps in the State of Missouri that the Missouri Heartland Counsel Property Committee has recommended for closing.  Other properties targeted include Latonka, Greenberry Acres, Mintahama and Sacajawea East (Cape Girardeau).

Scout leaders have responded by setting up a Friends of Camp Sacajawea page on Facebook. The local service team welcomes any ideas, assistance, long term property plan ideas and support of local Girl Scouts, according to the page, which now has 200 members.

According to CEO Anne Soots, the Board will further evaluate the issue in November, and if no viable options for long-term sustainability are presented, the Board will proceed with the property committee’s recommendations.

“We appreciate the respectful manner in which additional input was provided regarding the property recommendation. We look forward to working with our volunteers and community members to explore viable options for sustaining and maintaining these program properties,” Soots said in a letter dated June 15.

A two-and-a-half page-long-list of criteria was emailed to the affected properties this week, detailing what is expected from any given three-year plan that begins Oct. 1, 2013, and ends Sept. 30, 2016.

Sacajawea West is considered a “community” property, along with Friendship Fields, Greenberry Acres and Sacajawea East. Latonka and Mintahama are considered “regional” properties, while Cherokee Ridge, Finbrooke and Silver Meadows are considered “core” properties.
All long-term plans must be submitted to CEO Soots,  the memo noted. The committees attached to properties not recommended for divestment are expected to work with the Council to “increase revenue and usage at those properties.” In addition, “committees will need to secure new or increased sources of funding to meet the funding requirements in their plans,” the memo stated.

If plans do not meet the minimum requirements in each year, they will not be allowed to continue to the next year, it was further stated.  Year One requires that 50 percent of the proposed funding be met, followed by 75 percent by year Two and 100 percent by Year Three. Also, usage at each facility must increase by 20 percent each year of the three-year period.

The local service unit is going ahead with its efforts to save the camp from permanent closure.

“After we hear the guidelines on August 13, we will be forming a committee to Save Camp Sacajawea. We would appreciate your attendance at the meeting and any support that you are able to give,” stated Girl Scout Service Unit 718.

Charlotte Scholl, Troop 30702 leader for Seniors and Ambassadors, said that she “wants to keep the girls going,” but the November deadline that Council established in June has now been moved up to October 1, making it even more difficult to create a “viable option” to keep Camp Sacajawea alive.

She added that at the Tuesday night meeting, the Service Team will attempt to create four or five committees for the purpose of gaining public support for the plan to save the camp, with such duties as maintenance, membership, surveys and donations among the top priorities. Anyone with a passion for the Girl Scouts is welcome to serve on any committee, as time is running short, Scholl noted.

The camp, which covers 30.33 acres, currently serves 10 local troops, with a couple of outside troops (Smithton and Marshall) also using the facility from time to time. All troops pay their dues to Council to help keep the camp operating year round.

However, Soots reminded the troops, property is only one facet of the Girl Scout program, and that the Council cannot allow funding that is currently received to be used to retain properties. Photos courtesy Friends of Camp Sacajawea.

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