The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 11, 2013

SLIDE SHOW: Supporters of Girl Scout Camp Mintahama hope to reverse closure recommendation

Area Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1946 to pay their way to Camp Mintahama every summer.

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.

The 180-acre camp, nine miles south of Joplin in Newton County, has served generations of girls. Some of them who talked with the Globe say their time at the camp influenced their adult lives and career decisions, and provided them with lifelong friends.

The camp has a 12-acre lake with an island and two floating docks. It has three cabins, plus screened cabins, platform tents and tree houses in the woods.

Mintahama is one of two resident camps on which the board will vote, with six properties total up for a decision. The other resident camp is the Latonka Program Center in Wayne County.

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

THE RATIONALE

A volunteer property committee spent more than two years researching and gathering input from Girl Scouts, volunteers and others. Anne Soots, chief executive officer of Girls Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, said the recommendations are based on a decline in camp participation in recent years. Fewer than 5 percent of the membership attends resident camp, she said.

“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 news release says the properties also need major upgrades.

“With this much property, the council cannot afford to maintain every site as well as provide the infrastructure and amenity changes that girls and parents want,” Soots said.

Soots said by phone that she recognizes that closing Mintahama would cause heartache.

“There are so many memories attached to it,” she said. “It’s a very emotional issue.”

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