The board of directors of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland on Friday unanimously approved the viability of a plan presented by Friends of Camp Mintahama for its continued operation.
The plans of three other Girl Scout camps around the state also were approved unanimously.
Several generations of Girl Scouts have visited the Joplin camp every summer since 1946. The 180-acre camp is nine miles south of Joplin.
Anne Soots, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, complimented the commitment and dedication of camp volunteers in a news release announcing the decision.
“The volunteer groups exhibited a tremendous amount of commitment to implementing their long-term, sustainable plans designed to support Girl Scouting and the properties in their communities,” Soots said in the statement. “We are excited to move forward with this process and meet with the volunteer groups to provide guidance for fundraising, property maintenance and increasing property usage.”
Lisa Nelson, a Girl Scout troop leader in Carl Junction and a spokeswoman for Friends of Camp Mintahama, said she was glad to receive the news.
“I am so happy and excited,” Nelson said. “Mintahama has been so important to girls since 1946. We’re looking forward to showing it off to the community and opening it up to the community.”
The issue came to a head in June, when the board voted to approve the property committee’s recommendation to close the camp after the 2015 season and divest the property.
Camp Mintahama supporters initiated a campaign to swamp the council with letters and emails asking board members to reconsider. A Save Camp Mintahama Facebook page was created.
The board voted to give Friends of Camp Mintahama until this month to develop a plan.
The board in August provided a document outlining its criteria for keeping the camp in operation.
The criteria stated that the council would provide full property, liability and vehicle insurance costs, and half of the operating costs. While Friends of Camp Mintahama would be expected to fund the other half of the operating costs and all of the deferred maintenance costs. The friends group also must increase camp usage by 20 percent each year over three years.
Benchmarks also were included in the criteria. In the first year, the friends group is expected to raise half of the amount required. Failure to meet benchmarks would result in ending the agreement.
The initial phase is for three years.
Friends of Camp Mintahama will need to raise about $150,000 annually to meet the financial requirements.
Area attorney Belinda Elliston, a former Mintahama camper and camp staff member, made the oral presentation of the Friends of Camp Mintahama plan to the board. It was accompanied by a video of photos of campers.
“One piece of the plan is increased usage of the property, not just by Girl Scouts, but also by outside organizations,” Elliston said. She said the other piece of the plan is generating revenue, through increased usage, but also through grants and volunteers to help perform maintenance and repurpose some buildings for year-round use.
Elliston said providing heating and cooling to some of the buildings would allow the friends group to market the camp for weekend retreats and other activities.
She said there’s also a plan to create an endowment for long-term viability of the camp.
Nelson said the real work begins now. She said volunteers and Girl Scouts will be informed about the plan so they can help spread the word.
“Plans will start immediately to help people get involved,” she said.
Camp Suzanne, a primitive camp in Newton County for older Girl Scouts, has been given to the Boy Scouts of America, but Girl Scouts will continue to be able to use it, said Lisa Nelson, with Friends of Camp Mintahama.