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Supporters learn how to keep Girl Scout camp open

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A group that wants to keep a southwest Missouri Girl Scout camp open will need to fund half the camp’s operating costs and increase use of the 180-acre facility nine miles south of Joplin, according to the Girls Scouts of Missouri Heartland.

The Friends of Camp Mintahama launched an effort to save the camp when the staff of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland recommended earlier this year that it be closed and sold after the 2015 camping season. The council was inundated with pleas to keep the camp open, so the Girl Scouts’ board voted to give the community and volunteers until November to develop a plan to achieve that goal, The Joplin Globe reported.

Members of the volunteer group met with Anne Soots, executive director of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, last week to discuss the future of the camp, which has served Girl Scouts since 1946.

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

Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland said several weeks ago that for regional properties, including Camp Mintahama, the council will provide the full property, liability and vehicle insurance costs, and half of the operating costs. Community groups would need to fund the other half of the operating costs and all of the deferred maintenance costs. Usage of the camp also would need to be increased by 20 percent each year for three years.

If the volunteers didn’t raise half of the funding requirement in the first year, the rescue plan wouldn’t be allowed to continue.

Lisa Nelson, a member of Friends of Camp Mintahama and a troop leader in Carl Junction, said the group is discussing the details with Soots and the Girl Scout organization.

Nelson said the group can provide volunteer labor toward the maintenance totals, but it won’t be sufficient. The exact dollar amount needed has not been determined, she said.

“We’ll need some pretty significant community partnerships,” Nelson said. “In the long term, we can’t depend on grants and gifts. We’re just in the early stages of figuring it out.”

Brigitte Scott, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, said last week’s meeting was constructive and productive.

“We were all coming to the table with a way to make this work,” Scott said.

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