By Roger McKinney
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. —
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Likely hundreds of emails and letters flowed to the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland administrative offices in the past 10 days, asking the board not to close Camp Mintahama.
A Save Camp Mintahama Facebook page was started, with the number of “likes” approaching 900 on Saturday. A Friends of Camp Mintahama Committee formed and developed a proposal to keep the camp open for the board to consider.
It appears to have worked.
In a meeting closed to the public and reporters, the board of directors of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland on Friday voted unanimously to allow the community until November to develop “sustainable long-term viable plans” for keeping Mintahama open. The information on the vote was released Saturday.
A staff recommendation had been made to the board to close the camp after the 2015 summer camping season and divest the property. It was based on a decline in camp participation and needed costly repairs and improvements.
“We appreciate the respectful manner in which additional input was provided regarding the property recommendation,” said Anne Soots, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, in a news release announcing the decision. “We look forward to working with our volunteers and community members to explore viable options for sustaining and maintaining these program properties.”
Lisa Nelson, a Girl Scout troop leader and a member of the Friends of Camp Mintahama Committee, said area Girl Scouts were celebrating, while realizing there is a lot of work to do before November.
“We’re energized to keep the momentum going,” Nelson said. She said a July retreat was being scheduled to allow supporters to get organized, and the friends committee would seek guidance from the Girl Scout council about expectations “so we can make sure we’re all on the same page.”
The proposal the friends committee had developed asked the board to instruct staff of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland to work with the committee to work to achieve reasonable “financial and utilization goals” for the camp.
Nelson had said many former area Girl Scouts are now professionals who would participate in a financial campaign to support Camp Mintahama. She also said the camp has been under-utilized and under-marketed for use by outside groups.
She said Saturday that she thinks the proposal and the volume of emails and letters played a part in the board’s decision. She said it was all in a 10-day period, between notification of the recommendation and the board meeting.
“It’s been fast,” she said.
She said also reassuring to Camp Mintahama supporters was an encouraging message left on the Save Camp Mintahama Facebook page on Thursday by the treasurer of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland.
“It’s good news,” Nelson said of the decision.
Machelle Smith, of Galena, attended Camp Mintahama from 1974 to 1983 and was a volunteer when her daughter was at the camp. She was one of the dozens who contacted Soots. She is managing editor of the Galena Sentinel-Times newspaper. She said she was relieved by the board’s decision.
“I think this is going to allow us to come up with a plan of action,” she said, adding that the friends committee can’t delay.
“November will be here before we know it,” she said.
Comments on the Save Camp Mintahama Facebook page included: “Game on.” and “Good news!”
Camp Mintahama has been a destination for area Girl Scouts since 1946. The 180-acre camp is nine miles south of Joplin with a 12-acre lake with an island and docks. It has three cabins, screened cabins, platform tents and tree houses in the woods.