This is what is meant by a crying shame.

It’s plain to see why so many women are rattled by the local Girl Scout Council’s announcement it may be selling off all four of its Iowa camps.

One of them, Camp Conestoga, is in Scott County.

Its rambling, wooded acreage has a lake, shaded trails, rustic cabins and fresh air. A long-time Girl Scout devotee, Jane Duax, of Davenport, joined me on the 20-minute drive to the camp in New Liberty on Wednesday.

One of the first things I noticed was the deer were everywhere — their white tails darting through the trees like great balls of cotton, playing hide-and-seek. A resting gaggle of Canada geese honked their warning echoes across Flint Lake, flushing a red-tailed hawk from its lakeside perch.

It’s a beautiful place.

To Duax and countless others like her, the familiar woods hold more meaning and more memories than even a hard-working imagination could conjure.

At the entrance to the camp, Duax pointed to a large expanse and recalled the excitement of being dropped off for a week’s stay at Camp Conestoga.

“The counselors would be in their Sunday best: black shirts, white shorts, green tie,” she said. “You’d wave goodbye to your mom and dad, and the fun started.”

But it’s not just the fun that sticks like tree sap to Duax and the

700-or-so others who have signed a petition, asking the Girl Scouts to reconsider selling the camps.

“This place changed my life,” Duax said. “It taught me how to be part of a team, to love and respect the outdoors and to look out for myself. I learned on these very paths how not to be afraid of the dark.”

Maybe the ever-present glow of a cellphone has staved off such fears for today’s girls?

Officials from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois say today’s Girl Scouts are different from the ones in Duax’s generation.

Today’s girls aren’t keen on sleeping quarters that are not temperature-controlled or restroom accommodations that lack the flushing option. Most of today’s girls want modern conveniences, meaning air-conditioned cabins, not hot tents.

They want access to the Internet and do not wish to dig their own latrines.

“Right or wrong, it’s what most of the girls are telling us they want,” Council CEO Diane Nelson said. “Not all girls. Some girls are OK with bugs.”

For Duax and many others, camp is the time for roughing it, not for Facebook.

“I want my kids to be unplugged — to go outside, hear the wind move through the trees and not be afraid of daddy longlegs,” she said. “They’re already good with technology. They know more than we do. They have access to plenty of sports. The outdoors is the missing component.”

But Nelson said selling the camps does not have to mean doing away with the outdoors.

“You can still teach them to cook over an open fire, but you have to get them to camp first,” she said. “Camping is part of our core. You can’t just throw it out the door. But you do have to change it.”

For now, no one is entirely sure what the next generation of Scouting will look like. It no doubt will share qualities of the past, but it has to keep up with the times, too. In fact, the plan after selling the four camps might be to build a new outdoor destination that would blend rustic experiences with modern amenities.

“One use of technology might be to have a computer lab where they can print out pictures they took in the woods,” Nelson said. “Maybe they could email their parents from camp, so they’re not homesick.

“But this doesn’t mean they’ll be plugged in all day.”

And it’s not as if the Council hasn’t been trying to get girls interested in taking advantage of the camps. They waved all sorts of carrots at the troops, including certificates for overnights at Camp Conestoga. The girls didn’t bite.

“Our philosophy was: If you get out there to the camp and see it, how could you not want to go back?” Nelson said. “But the attitude instead was: We’ve been there and done that.”

Although the camps are not expected to generate a profit, she said, they are losing the Council about $600,000 annually. When the same thing was happening about five years ago at Singing Bird Lodge in Rock Island, Camp Shabonee in Rapids City and Piper Hills, New Windsor, Ill., they were sold, too.

Rather than liquidating all four remaining camps, it is possible one could be saved, and the proceeds from the sale of the others used for updating. The Council’s board is scheduled to vote on the future of the camps at the March 28 board meeting.

“Some councils have had to sell camps to pay debt, and we don’t want to get there,” Nelson said. “If transportation to a single, centralized camp is the issue, maybe we’ll provide buses. If we don’t change, we become obsolete.”

For Duax and many others, the rustic experience of Girl Scout camp had a profound impact on their sense of self. Their loyalty to those places is just another measure of what they learned there — what they got out of finding their way in the dark and facing their fears.

Girls today aren’t all that different, really. They still want to have fun with their friends and go on adventures and learn new things.

Yesterday’s Girl Scouts must understand that it falls upon today’s leadership to pass along the same values while finding a new method of delivery.

“Changing lives, that’s what we do,” Nelson said. “That’s our job. The outdoors is a place where we change lives, and that is something that will never change. Our mission is the same. You can’t take that away with a property.”

Contact Barb Ickes at 563-383-2316 or bickes@qctimes.com.

(25) comments

getinvolved

Camp Shalom has bugs, no A/C, no internet or cell phones, lots of mud and camp fires. It's spartan and dirty and -- booming. The kids at Bettendorf Middle School used to go to 6th grade camp for a week in another spartan place without internet or comfortable living space, and they LOVED it.

Girls still love going to spartan places for camp, but camp has to be fun.

It doesn't appear these camps have generated the excitement that other camps have. That's not because girls don't want to leave their cell phones. The Girl Scouts needs to open its eyes and make its club interesting, exciting and fun if it wants to attract members. Word of mouth travels fast in this age group, for the good and the bad.

PBCMAVERICK

I remeber when i went to the camp my first time i was sacred, but i had fun that week. i just could not wait until the summer so i could do the same thing. the problem with some of them now days is that have to have to be in touch with internet 24/7. when i was there we could care less about the internet because you meet people there who were very nice please do not sell the camp.
Amanda Estabrook

Matthew5-7

Barb asks a good question: Where is the parental influence? If parents raised the girls with the values of wholesome fun in the outdoors and pure enjoyment of nature, the Camps would not be losing money. Diane Nelson seems to be practicing the real leadership here. When the whole of society shifts, organizations need to adapt, or they die. Diane seems to be looking for new and creative ways to develop girls of courage, confidence and character with new means that will be attractive to the girls and financially viable. Without money, the girl scouts cannot pursue its mission.

Flint

The picture accompanying this article is particularly poignant for me, as my father made and mounted the entrance sign at Camp Conestoga. He also made the bell tower that supports the bell (donated by camp staff) near the dining hall. My whole family was involved in camp at Conestoga. All the girls in my family attended summer camp and ultimately worked there as staff. Even my brother worked on staff as a "handyman." Both my parents volunteered for many years on the maintenance committee. My dearest friends around the country are those who shared many summers at camp. We built ropes courses, split wood, and climbed mountains. The camp experience gave me confidence, perseverance, and leadership skills -- and a reverence for the outdoor world. I have seen girls and young women find their voices and take pride in their skills. I sincerely hope we can find a way to provide similar experiences for the young women of the future -- at camps both rustic and modern.

squirrel

As a girl scout for over 25 years (12 as a girl, 13 as an adult) and an active Camp Conestoga volunteer with both the horse program and archery program I strongly disagree with girls just wanna have wi-fi. I have seen how much fun a girl has at camp. I am also a troop leader and all eight girls in my troop started bawling when they heard the news. Even the older two who do listen to their ipods said they always enjoy going out to camp and said the like the fact they aren't allowed to bring that stuff to camp. Camp is a place for the girls to have fun and enjoy being a kid again. They don't want computers and internet access. They want to ride horses and ride the zip line and canoe in the lake. Its a shame that council would even consider this was a good idea. It is definitely not what the girls want and definitely not the direction that Girl Scouts should be headed in.

Girl Scout Momma

As a Girl Scout Volunter of 30 years I have seen the positive skills that can be gained only in outdoor settings. My issue is with selling ALL of the Girl Scout Camp Properties with out a solid plan and timeline on replacing them with an alternative. Camp Conestoga is the home of the Volunteer led Girl Scout Equestrian Progam for troops. This program allows for all girls and troops in GSEIWI to do workshops and trail rides. Troops have come from all areas of GSEIWI to participate in the VOLUNTEER LED program. What will happen to the girls who only stay a Girl Scout because they love horses? There is no plan in place to serve these girls and how many years will it take to replace this program? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg of questions that need to be answered before the board of GSEIWI rushes into selling not just properties but programs that serve girls.

BHaskovec

Camp Tahigwa was my second home growing up and an integral part of the woman and leader I am today. Talking to parents and other people in the council many, many girls still want residential camp experiences and are saddened by this news. It is also apparent that GSEIWI have not been investing time, energy, and resources into making the camps successful since the merger several years ago. There has been less direct marketing, less full time staff dedicated to marketing and overseeing the success of residential camps. The experiences and life skills gained by residential camp outweigh the costs. Myself and many other Tahigwa alumni are (and have been) eager to assist with fundraising and other efforts to make camp a success and have seen little interest from GSEIWI. We are strong, confident leaders thanks to camp. We stayed in Girl Scouts because of camp. We have life long friendships that are a result of camp. We are disappointed and saddened by this decision and the thought of losing a place that we all value so much. If my beautiful home is sold I hope that the Council practices sound stewardship and makes any and all efforts to ensure the land is protected and available for decades of girls to visit in the future. I'm certain there are conservation groups that would eagerly work to protect these natural beauties.

Miss Mel-Rose-Petals-Whisper

As a 25 year member of Girl Scouts, I've seen a lot...

When I was a teenager, my two favorite places on Earth were Piper Hills Girl Scout Camp and Camp Shabonee. At that time we were told that those properties, along with Singing Bird Lodge and others, needed to be sold in order to make the necessary improvements to Camp Conestoga. Many of us fought those sales, knowing that the longer the distance to camp, the less parents would be willing to take the girls. And camping declined.

According to the council's research in 2010, 67.5% of girls attending resident camp found out about camp through the print camp booklets. They discontinued the booklet. And camping declined.

The council's research shows that parents aren't willing to drive more than 1 hour for day events, and now they want to create 1 "centralized location", which would be well over and hour, even up to 3 hours drive for some girls. And they expect that it will be a popular place? Do they not see this pattern?

Girls want to go to camp. They want to go horse back riding (80% of girls voted this was very important), swim, do archery, zip line, and canoeing. So, why aren't they getting there? Girls want camp, but they don't get everything they want. Their parents can't get them there, or can't pay and won't apply for financial aid. Or they want to troop camp, but have a leader who won't take them, because she isn't confident in the outdoors. We need to address these problems, rather than taking away opportunities.

If the girls want an option of air conditioning, or for computers and wi-fi, we could address that at our current camps. Camp Conestoga had a building called Bea Conrad. It was falling apart, so instead of fixing it or rebuilding it, they tore it down and turned it into a pavilion. It's not as useful that way. Rebuild it as an air conditioned lodge with wi-fi through a satellite connection, and provide a handful of tablets and a printer. Then girls could have their option for high tech, and also an option to enjoy what already exists.

There are volunteers who would take troops camping. There are volunteers who run an excellent year round horseback riding program. There are volunteers who run archery, canoeing, and zip line. As one of those volunteers, I would hate to see the girls lose out on the things they want that do exist, in hopes for something that might never be an option for them.

Pass along this link to get Girl Scouts you know to place their vote on whether camps should close or not.
http://www.sogosurvey.com/k/TsVWXQsRsPsPsP

Moto
Moto

The United Way of the Quad Cities has been supporting an initiative that was developed by Search Institute called the 40 Developmental Assets. The Developmental Assets have been significantly correlated with the ability for youth to develop both the ability to resist negative influences while at the same time build positive behaviors. The goals of Girl Scouting, in my opinion, mirrors the 40 Developmental Assets by Search Institute. I have worked with youth in the Quad Cities as a professional for 35 years, am currently completing my Ph.D. in Counseling, my research focused on the 40 Developmental Assets. I am also a trainer for Search Institute and have trained numerous educators about the value of positive and supportive relationships, upon which the 40 Assets are built. As I prepared to train others in how important the 40 Developmental Assets are, and how important the relationships are that are the underpinning of the Assets, I realized that Girl Scouting, and more importantly, the relationships and skills that I learned at Camp Conestoga formed the basis of my successful life. My family of origin was plagued with mental illness, dysfunctional family dynamics, divorce, alcoholism, drug use and abuse and illegal activities. I have been fortunate enough to be married for more than 25 years to my best friend who co-parents with me as a fully functional and important part of our union, a job that I have had for 33 years in which I make a difference in the lives of the youth of our community, no illegal activities, drug use nor alcohol abuse. My life could not be more diametrically opposite from that of my siblings...the answer...the 40 Developmental Assets that I built during the summers I spent at Camp Conestoga. The out of doors, at Girl Scout Camp, and the processes of learning how to go troop camping during the school year, literally changed my life. While the United Way spent thousands of dollars with promoting community wide support and development of the 40 Developmental Assets, I would hope that they would be extremely concerned about one of their United Way recipients demolishing one of the primary methods of building assets in the youth of today!

SandraKurt

Camp Conestoga was my first experience away from my home town, my family, my troop, and my school friends. It offered me the unique opportunity as a pre-adolescent to establish my own independent identity, where I wasn't the "brain" or "geek," where I didn't have to conform to anyone's expectations but instead only to the values and ethics of Scouting. It provided the opportunity to go on a week-long trip into the wilds where I and the girls in my unit determined what we needed to survive (with guidance from our counselors) & packed it and carried it on our backs. It was where we encountered a black bear and came away unscathed and with all of our food. I knew of no other girl my age who had similar adventures, and as I realized later, similar opportunities to build character, self-reliance and independence. I would need those skills and solid belief in myself & my abilities in my career as an engineer, where for over a decade, I was the only woman in my department. I call upon those beliefs and values daily as I serve my community as an elected member of Summit County Council here in Ohio. I am honored to represent the entire county with a population of over 540,000, addressing such issues as stormwater management and balancing environmental concerns around activities like hydraulic fracturing (fracking) with the economic benefits to landowners and consumers of natural gas. I cannot imagine having the belief in myself that running for office requires without the incredible formative experiences from my years as a camper and staff member at Conestoga. There is simply no substitute for the gift of going away to camp, discovering your true self based on your accomplishments away from the pressures and expectations of society at large, with only the natural world, your sister campers, and the guidance of your counselors as influences. To me, it runs counter to the core values of Scouting to deny the possibility of such growth opportunities to current and future generations of Scouts.

Runnergirl

What does having internet access have to do with camp? Nothing! These young girls need to have the experience of the great outdoors. Instead of saying the camps are not being used because the girls want all of the conviences of home is silly. Why look into updating a purchasing a new camp. Just send the girls to the local hotel instead for all the modern conviences. Try revamping what and how you offer the camp experience. It is different for every age. My brownie girls loved camping! They were intimidated by the older girl scouts who took over the camp. So the next time we went camping we did so with just our troop and they had a blast. Slow down in making this decision and listen to what the leaders are trying to tell you. If this is not done right the girl scouts numbers are going to suffer as angry parents pull their children out of girl scouts. Most girls in girl scouts loose interest in being a girl scout by 5th grade. It is hard to keep them interested in the program the council offers. Afterall, leaders to pay your organization to volunteer and girls pay dues to be a girl scout. They atleast should have some say in what they are investing their money in.

disappointed

This is just an easy way for the GS Council to help "ensure" membership growth in their eyes. They are simply jumping on the electronic and such bandwagons instead of holding true to the founding spirit of Girl Scouting and standing strong, against the already overwhelming unhealthy influence of an electronic/technologically burdened society. They are simply chasing the next "hot" item and will soon be on to something else when they "perceive" that girls "want" that new thing/experience. Unfortunately, they aren't considering what is healthy for girls in this world. In short they are selling out to be like everyone else. In which case, their fears of relevency will be realized and they will become an irrelevent organization. It takes courage. confidence and character to not follow the pack. They should consider the role modeling that is being put forth as they conduct their Town Hall mtgs concerning this issue of camp closure. Trust of the organization is prime in a volunteer-led organization. If I don't trust you or your motives I'm most likely not going to give you my children to influence. They should be bending over backwards to educate and work with/listen to their volunteers instead of alienating them by "telling" them how it is going to be. Could be the camps would still need to be closed but in the end they would probably salvage more of their volunteers and girls by taking a most transparent approach. As a side note: since when did a Girl Scout council cease to be for the girls and volunteers and the council staff simply there as stewards of the resources being directed by the membership? I think there are lots of ways you could encourage girls to attend summer/day camps and council programs held at camp if they wanted to. I believe they had no intention of wanting camp to be successful so they could arrive at this day trying to look justified. Remember, membership dues and sales pay for lots of things at the council level. On a side note, I think I saw that membership dues were increasing as well. It all hinges on how much the current adult membership is willing to swallow and keep coming back for more. After all, we are role modeling for our daughters as well.

Barb Ickes
Barb Ickes

Question: In addition to the comments here, I've received many email from parents who are opposed to the sale of the camps, because "I want my kids to have the chance to be unplugged."
But you are the parents. The children are yours. Why don't YOU unplug them? Why is it up to the Girl Scout Council to remove the electronics from your children's lives?

EnjoyOutdoors2

If children today are not given the opportunities to explore and enjoy the wonder, beauty and majesty of nature by attending rustic camps, who will be the future conservationists and protectors of our parks?

When I was growing up, children in our neighborhood spent countless hours outdoors, playing ball, hopscotch, building forts, playing with dolls and toys outside, going on picnics in local parks, reading under shade trees, riding bikes, going boating and fishing on the Mississippi River, picking raspberries, going for walks, and exploring, learning, and discovering the wonders of nature. We didn’t have computers, video games, or even color televisions back then, we used our imagination. Many families didn’t have air conditioning in their homes for years. People sat out on front porches or in back yards and visited with their neighbors.

Now, many children sadly spend most of their time indoors.

Rustic camps offer a progression of wilderness and outdoor skills and appreciation not found in urban centers. Young campers learn the safe and proper spots to build shelters and dig latrines outdoors, outdoor cooking and reading weather signs, because when they are teens, they are prepared for outdoor adventures, such as backpacking on the Appalachian Trail or canoeing in the Boundary Waters, where indoor plumbing, electricity and air-conditioned cabins are not available. Watching videos in an urban center about shelters is not the same as actually learning and building shelters in the woods.

GS Camp Forever

I hope you will continue to report on this issue. There are many troubling developments at the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois council that need to be publicized:
1. The vote on the recommendation to sell the camps has been rushed and the council board is not interested in slowing it to allow more input from the membership or to consider alternatives.
2. There is no definite plan for what to do with the proceeds of the sale of the camps, or if there is it has not been made public.
3. The possibility of selling the camps was never made clear to the membership until the February 6 announcement. The council has said it has held meetings about the issue for several years, but these were never publicized in ways that would alert the membership.
4. The “Town Hall” meetings with the Girl Scout membership have been led by a non Girl Scout facilitator who controls the discussion and does not allow sufficient opportunity for people to speak. This is inconsistent with both the traditional Girl Scouts and the American practice of free speech, and it suggests that the council has something to hide.
5. Uniformed security guards have been hired to be in attendance at the Town Hall meetings. This is entirely inconsistent with Girl Scout practice and has a chilling effect on discussion. If the council and board are concerned about security, inconspicuous plain clothed officers would have been a less intimidating choice.
6. The council’s own report on its camp usage contradicts the rationale it is using for selling the camps: “For the five-year period of 2008-2012, there was an overall increase of 33% of year-round camp facility usage, and an average of 10,538 Girl Scouts attended a program at a council camp…This is 57% of the average girl membership…” See: http://girlscoutstoday.org/media/2013/01/LRPP-Research-Review-2013_Part1.pdf
7. The council has not published data on whether current usage is dramatically different than past usage (prior to 2009)
8. The council finances are available through federal IRS 990 form: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2011/421/008/2011-421008848-07fbfe79-9.pdf and its Property Research report, http://girlscoutstoday.org/media/2013/01/LRPP-Research-Review-2013_Part3.pdf, but it remains unclear if the Girl Scout camps have ever made a profit or if a profit is even necessary for the camps to remain open since the council has other forms of revenue from which to subsidize the camps.
9. The council has not provided a detailed cost benefit analysis showing the financial impact of 1) keeping the girls scout camps, 2) keeping some of the Girl Scout camps and closing others, and 3) closing all four of the Girl Scout camps. This makes it impossible to see what alternatives to selling all four camps have been considered or that might be viable.
10. GSEIWI staff have been put under a virtual gag order except to echo the council board’s official position. Camp directors have been told that they are under contract as council staff and must support the board. The camp staffs have been told not to attend Town Hall meetings etc. or they might not be offered contracts for work this coming summer.
11. The Council is asserting that girls do not want rustic camp experiences anymore, but this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy since it and the national organization, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., have deemphasized camping in Girl Scout programming in recent year in favor of a business model that emphasizes cookie sales and other “leadership” experiences. Training Girl Scout Leaders (now called “Volunteers”) in camping skills is not a priority, and in turn Girl Scout Leaders who have no experience do not take their troops camping and do not encourage their girls to go to summer camp.
12. One of the most important resources for helping make Girl Scout camp a more viable and visible part of the GSEIWI council’s programming have been underutilized or in some cases turned away. The present and former members of Girl Scouts, some of whom have decades of experience and an intense love for the organization and for Girl Scout camps, have not been invited or encouraged to offer suggestions, expertise, or solutions that would help alleviate whatever problems have led to the recommendation to sell the Girl Scout camps. This is in direct contradiction to past practices in which traditions and skills were passed on through volunteer action and the GSEIWI council would be wise to reinvigorate this long-standing and fundamental element of Girl Scouts.

Many of us are working very hard to save the camps. Please go to http://saveourgirlscoutcamps.weebly.com/ for more information. As of 2/17 we have over 1000 signatures on an online petition at https://www.change.org/petitions/girl-scouts-of- eastern-iowa-and-western-illinois-do-not-sell-all-of-the-girl-scout-camps-in-eastern-iowa and we have launched a campaign to solicit signatures on a Request to Change the By-Laws petition to the GSEIWI which will enable the membership to have a vote on the recommendation to sell the camps. A significant groundswell of protest is growing on numerous websites and social media. Please help publicize this important issue. Girl Scouts are supposed to "make the world a better place." How does closing these precious resources make the world a better place? The Council and the Board members need to be held accountable. Juliette Low who founded the Girl Scouts would be ashamed of their actions.

Klaatu
Klaatu

A kid needs some balance. You aren't going to undo all the technology, but we gotta' get our kids outdoors too. My grandson loves his electronic games, but he isn't allowed to have a cellphone and he plays outdoors at least an hour every day, by his own choice. He loves to run and play, he wrestles, plays football and baseball, and of course Scouting. We can't let them sit indoors all year 'round and expect them to be healthy and normal.

Be Squigley

Oh - of course not every girl likes bugs! And yet I wonder where they will have the opportunity to learn about them, to see their value, to understand the eco system that sustains us? Where will they listen to rain, hear an owl, or experience the value of the wind? I am worried. In a world where there is expanding city and less sky why would the the Girl Scouts of eastern Iowa and Western Illinois even consider letting go of a national treasure. Open space that is full of possibility for learning, understanding and truth. I am concerned at the lack of thought for creating programs that are inviting and nurturing in the outdoor and instead aim at eliminating the possibility. Camping can be valuable... it is social interaction in action, it is fun personified, it is an opportunity for learning about the world. There is a quote from a book entitled "A Sense of Wonder" that states "“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

This is the possibility of Camp and what has been true for me!

krisgsings

What has always been true is that getting the Girl Scout programming to the girls depends on the adult scout leaders. If you talk to the girls about what they want to do, of course they will want to do what they always do - text their friends and play on the computer and go to the mall. If that 's what their leaders always do, that's what they will do.

In my day, I was stuck in a Junior Girl Scout troop with a leader who wanted to do crafts all the time. I was bored out of my skull, until a friend lured me into her troop run by a British couple who introduced their girls to camping and took us out into the woods as often as possible. And so the real adventure began.

I suggest that the Girl Scout leadership make a concerted effort to introduce the women and men who lead their troops to the real out of doors. Teach those adults some of the cool stuff we learned at Conestoga, so they can get excited about nature and pass it on to their kids. Years of neglecting this most important part of scouting is taking a terrible toll. If we don't teach our kids to love nature, they will not protect it when they become adults.

EnjoyOutdoors2

When staying in screened tents, campers listen to chirping and buzzing birds and insects, rather than numerous whirring cell phones plugged in to recharge in a lodge. While hiking outdoors to the dining hall, campers sing camp songs or discover how many different colors, sounds and textures they observe in nature along the way, rather than listen to music through headphones walking down a hall. Hiking back from the trading post, campers find and dig natural clay for making bowls and crafts, rather than use prepackaged clay. An afternoon hike becomes an adventure of imagination, pretending to walk on sticky peanut butter, or imitating how a hawk they just saw glides and dives across the sky, rather than spending an afternoon playing video games in air-conditioning. Campers exchange hand-written letters with family and friends, even on natural paper they created themselves, rather than emails and texts.

Children need to spend time outdoors unplugged from devices. Please save the rustic camps for generations of campers.

jidmid

I thought girls just wanted to have fun - oh yeah, kind of sad that the Leadership of our local Girl Scouts Council, is so into duplication of services. Don't they know how much computers are in the classroom/labs in the schools, wi-fi on nearly every mobile device & "play-station" our kids have had since they were 4 years old! Shoot girls now a days can even pick up themselves some wi-fi with their kids meals at MickyD's. Gosh when i was little we only got a toy as part of the maketing pitch for every new movies coming out.

FionaWink

As someone who has benefited greatly from the values and experiences I gained as a Conestoga camper in the 60s-70s I am deeply saddened and disappointed in the current council’s direction. Girl Scout camp is an amazing opportunity for young women to grow and develop a deep understanding of the outdoors and themselves. This experience pays for itself many times over as these girls, the backbone of girl scouting, go back into their communities and share that knowledge. This ripple effect serves to make Iowa communities all the stronger. Here are some of my thoughts with the impending sale as it now stands:


1. GSEIWI (the council that over see the four camps in jeopardy) had a net income gain in 2011 of $342,847 up 80,943 from 2010 according to their annual report. The camps program costs decreased in 2011. The council is not in dire straits to sell the camps. I’m not sure the camps have ever been self-sustaining, and if they now need to be, there are many options to get there. So why the rush to sell?
2. The council does not seem to have any concrete plan on how they are going to replace the camping experience that is now available to area girl scouts. They want to sell first and plan later, leaving area girl scouts scrambling for years piecing together outdoor experiences until something is finalized and built. This seems like putting the cart in front of the horse. It makes no sense.
3. The council owns the present land. Why would they want to sell these beautiful sites and perhaps not be able to afford their “dream” location? No figures have been given on the costs of buying and building a “central” location.
4. The camping experience creates strong bonds and teamwork. Friendships and memories that last a lifetime. There are so many other tech opportunities for girls during the school year. Let’s give them an opportunity to “unplug” and connect to the world around them in a healthy safe environment. Isn’t this a legacy worth passing on to generations to come?

Please help keep our girl scout camping program strong in Iowa. Sign the online petition at https://www.change.org/petitions/girl-scouts-of-eastern-iowa-and-western-illinois-do-not-sell-all-of-the-girl-scout-camps-in-eastern-iowa and let the council know what a “crying shame” selling the camps would be.

Barred Owl

When has Girl Scout camping been about keeping all the conveniences of home? Has this CEO ever camped at anything rougher than a Holiday Inn? When girls go to camp only to find jewelry, make-up kits, and glitzy t-shirts for sale at the camp, of course they feel like "been there, done that." Giving away "gift certificates" to entice girls to come to camp is hardly an answer when the Council has already given away the very core of what Scouting has offered to girls for nearly a century: a chance to leave aside the conveniences of everyday life and become immersed in the enchanting world of nature, while adapting to challenges, learning teamwork, and making friends that will last a lifetime.

pta mom

For the long-term, it would make more sense to keep this Heaven-on-Earth, and promote the benefits of such experiences to our girls and their families. Girls get enough Internet experiences the rest of the year.

jidmid

What I meant to imply in my comment above is all these plug in "toys" are sucking the life out of our children today. When the batteries run dry, the power cords keep them teathered to the chair or couch - walled in from natual sunlight or feeling a fresh breeze cool cheeks. Oh well, guess if they are sitting in air conditioning, at yet another computer lab in their life, to email mom & dad about the FUN they having a camp, their pale little cheeks may need to be warm up a tad to get a rosy glow. Maybe we could put a sweater on them....

jidmid

Gosh, my 10 year Girl Scout has a blast when she is "unplugged" from her mini-laptop, xbox, cell phone, my laptop, her school desktops and ipads orher brother's playstation3 that has wi-fi built in, or the DS & MP3 player that continuely needs to be recharged because the battery has had it sucked out of it. She just wants to have fun and play NOT be teathered to a power cord or walled in by an electrical outlet. She went to a week long overnight Girl Scout Camp for the first time last summer - was looking forward to going back again this summer with hopefully some of her 5th grade girl BFF's. She went to coed Camp Abe Lincoln with her brother the 2 summers before. She had fun there - but didn't really want to go back. SAD that the Camp she WANTS to go back to is going to closed and the land sold. It is a sad, sad day - now even the Girl Scouts are selling paradise and putting up a parking lots.

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