By Roger McKinney
When the board of directors of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland meets today to consider a recommendation to close Camp Mintahama after the 2015 summer camping season, it also will consider a proposal to keep it open.
The board doesn’t plan to release its decision until Saturday.
The Friends of Camp Mintahama Committee has developed a plan, in the form of a memorandum, for keeping the camp open. The plan will be before board members when they meet today in Springfield.
The meeting is closed to the public, so the committee members will not be able to speak for their plan at that time.
Lisa Nelson, a member of the committee and a Girl Scout troop leader in Carl Junction, said committee members have been in touch with Anne Soots, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, and with individual board members to ensure that the memorandum is considered.
The recommendation to close the 180-acre camp, nine miles south of Joplin, and another camp in Wayne County is based on a staff study that cited a decline in camp participation in recent years and a need for costly repairs and improvements. The camp has been owned by the Girl Scouts since 1946. The next nearest resident Girl Scout camp is in Rogersville, more than 90 minutes away.
A summary of the friends committee’s memorandum reads: “We propose that the board of directors vote to: Instruct Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland staff to work with the Friends of Camp Mintahama Committee to set, and work to achieve, reasonable financial and utilization goals for the period July 1, 2013, to Aug. 31, 2015, with the intention to reconsider the divestment of the Mintahama Program Center in September 2015, assuming reasonable progress is made.”
The friends committee, in the memorandum, makes three assumptions: If the camp is financially sustainable, it need not be sold; it is reasonable to cultivate investment and support from the local community; and alumnae giving will be more successful when it is linked to personal experience.
“We’re trying to be collaborative,” Nelson said.
She said many camp alumnae are professionals who would be willing to be part of a financial campaign. Other members of the community and business owners who are sympathetic to the cause also may be willing to give, she said.
Nelson said there’s an example of a successful financial campaign when $2.2 million was raised for new administrative offices in Joplin and improvements to Camp Mintahama in the 1990s. The office building was sold in 2011.
She also said that though the camp property is available to outside groups, that fact isn’t promoted.
“It’s under-marketed and under-utilized,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the committee members think this proposal is a viable one for the board members.
“We are putting forward a very measured proposal,” she said.
LISA NELSON, a member of the Friends of Camp Mintahama Committee, said membership in Girl Scouts in the Joplin area increased by 400 from 2011 to 2012. “Girl Scouting is thriving,” she said.