The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 13, 2013

Our View: Saving Camp Mintahama

The Joplin Globe

— Camp teaches young women tangible skills in an increasingly digitized and abstract world. Spending time by the lake and the pool helps a girl who is afraid of the water become an assured, and safe, swimmer.

Spending a week away from parents teaches a homesick child that she can, and will, be successful on her own.

Spending a week in the woods, surrounded by peers and dedicated camp staff, turns a girl with a bad home life into a leader.

Learning to start a fire with one match, then keeping that fire alive in the rain, may not seem like the kind of ability one is likely to use in the world of central heat and microwaves, but a knowledge of the most basic survival skills instills the confidence all people need to be able to say with certainty: “I can take care of myself.”

Camp Mintahama, a 180-acre camp nine miles south of Joplin in Newton County, has served generations of Girl Scouts, teaching them the skills we have mentioned, plus many more. Now, that camp could be closed. Not enough money, not enough time and not enough help are legitimate reasons that plague all non-profits.

The board of directors of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland is scheduled to vote Friday on whether to follow staff recommendations to sell the camp property and close the camp after the 2015 summer camping season.

Hundreds of people have rallied and are making commitments to help rebuild strong leadership for Camp Mintahama, raise funds to make the upgrades necessary and reform the programs to get attendance up.

Ultimately, the decision to keep the camp open will have to be a business one.

However, the effort to save Camp Mintahama must be a joint one among the alumni, staff, campers, parents and the council.

A delay in the council’s decision to close the camp and a time commitment of one or two years before revisiting the issue of closing and selling the camp would give the quickly growing group of volunteers a chance to make keeping the camp open the best business decision for the council and save a lasting legacy in the process.