A five-year usage study of four camp properties owned by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois has led to a recommendation that the facilities be sold, the organization announced Tuesday.

The camps are Camp Conestoga in Scott County, Camp Little Cloud in Dubuque County, Camp L-Kee-Ta in Des Moines County and Camp Tahigwa in Allamakee County.

“We were all a little bit shocked at the recommendation,” said Shelly Wells Caine, vice president of development and marketing for the organization. “But then we realized what an opportunity this could be.

“Things have changed so much, girls and what they are interested in have changed so much, that less than 10 percent of our membership uses the facilities,” she added.

Also, more younger girls are involved in scouting now, Wells Cain said.

“Years ago it was all fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Today, it’s mostly second-, third- and fourth-graders. They’re looking for different experiences.

“We’ll have the outdoor experiences, for sure, but we’ll probably do that at some type of program or outdoor center that is more centrally located and near a population base. It may be something in the lodge style.”

The recommendation to sell the four properties to the Girl Scout Council’s Board of Directors came from the volunteer property committee for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

The study concluded that none of the facilities meets today’s needs of the council’s increasing membership of almost 20,000 girls and 5,000 adults, and to do so would require a total redesign of property infrastructure.

The committee’s research indicated that girls are more interested in adventure and travel opportunities than the rustic camp experiences for which the camps were designed. Declining income from substantially lower attendance in recent years could not keep up with operating costs.

The committee decided that “further investment in the properties is not a responsible use of the council’s financial resources,” said Mary Lagerblade, chairwoman of the board of directors.

“Each year, we subsidize more than 55 percent of our camp facility operating costs, but serve less than 10 percent of our girls,” she added. That is the equivalent of taking away $76 in programming funds from every Girl Scout who did not attend programming at a camp facility.

“Our girls have continued to vote with their participation,” CEO Diane Nelson said. “Even with our steady growth in membership, there has been an ongoing decline in the number of girls using our camp properties despite our best efforts to change this. Meanwhile, the need for improvements to the camps has escalated.”

If the sale of the properties is approved, Nelson said the council would explore development of a new outdoor learning center to serve the current membership.

While many women have fond memories of their time at the camps, “our memories will last forever and the Girl Scouts will continue to build new memories,” Nelson said.

(2) comments


During the time that I was a girl scout: (5th-7th grade = 9-12 years old)) I sold cookies, attended meetings (my parents didn't have the money to send us to summer camp of any kind.) My sister and I wanted to go. Our leaders' kids went (but then they sold most of the cookies. . The girls sat around after school and talked about make-up, which boys they liked, and applied finger nail polish. 7th grade we finally got a leader that took the girls camping, showed us camping skills, and made it possible to live outside in a tent (even if it was for one day). Our leader transferred and our old leader came back. ( We finally quit.)

During my daughter's Girl Scouting years (4th-6th grade 9-11 years old), my husband and I took the troop from a poor leader. We made sure the girls went camping, took day trips, and participated in as many girl scout council activites as possible (such as: cleaning camps, cookie sales, and camping). We were advised that the girls were too young to go camping; however, the girls wanted to be active. I never have understood why selling cookies was necessary. We paid for our own dresses, sashes, caps, books, troop dues, and anything else we needed. As leaders, we totally volunteered our time, My husband and I feel the Girl Scout Council is taking in money from cookie sales and the girls are being robbed.
My 3 grandchildren now participate in girl scouts. They sell cookies, the leaders sit around and plan group activities; however, most of the time my son finds out about the planned outings on the day that they are to participate. (My grandchildren are bored and ready to quit) Not much to brag about.- maybe the girl scouts should disband!!!.


How sad. Camp has been exchanged for crafts and shopping.

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