Camp Mintahama has been serving girl scouts for generations. It has a significant impact on the outcome of girls lives. It creates leaders and gives girls the confidence to do what it takes to make a difference and work to "Change their World" and to make it a better place.
We propose that the Board of Directors vote to: Instruct GSMH staff to work with the Friends of Camp Mintahama Committee to set, and work to achieve, reasonable financial and utilization goals for the period July 1, 2013 to August 31, 2015, with the intention to reconsider the divestment of the Mintahama Program Center in September 2015, assuming satisfactory progress is made.
On June 4, 2013, GSMH members were given 10 days’ notice of the content of a Property Committee Recommendation being presented to the GSMH Board of Directors on June 14, 2013, namely: “Retain [the Mintahama Program Center] until September 2015 and then begin divestment process. Future proceeds to be used for future capital improvements.”
Within a week, nearly 800 people liked a Save Camp Mintahama Facebook page. In response to this recommendation, two meetings of concerned girls, parents, volunteers, Service Unit leaders, and alumnae were held to formulate a response. Because the Property Committee provided no insight as to what metrics resulted in its recommendation, three assumptions have been made:
1. If the Mintahama Program Center is financially sustainable, it need not be sold.
2. It is reasonable to cultivate investment and support for a regional property from the local community.
3. Alumnae giving will be more successful when linked to personal experience.
GSMH has stated that the purpose of Council property is to achieve the 15 outcomes for girls identified in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE), and that the Board must balance programmatic, environmental, and financial concerns in regard to all property assets.
Property planning is intended to support Council strategic priorities and be part of the on-going strategic learning process. The goal of the Property Committee is to include membership and staff while developing a property vision that promotes the mission of GSMH and meets the needs and interests of existing and future girls. At this point, the Property Committee has presented a decision, but no future vision.
In 2011, the Joplin Service Center, built through a multi-year capital campaign, was sold as part of the GSMH property alignment process. The community effort put into raising $2.2 million for that 8,000 square foot building in central Joplin AND to build a new activity lodge, camp challenge course, and rappelling tower at Mintahama cannot be underestimated. When it comes to property, the Joplin area has already made one significant sacrifice with the sale of its 10-year old Joplin Service Center valued at $630,000.
In 2013, Districts 1 and 2 sold 14 percent of all cookies sold across GSMH (16,348 cases of the 118,066 total). Knowing that product sales account for up to 70% of the annual budget, we play a substantial role in sustaining our Council. Many young girls and parents are motivated to sell cookies because they can utilize Cookie Credit at Camp Mintahama, a safe, nearby opportunity with a variety of campsites. Loss of Mintahama has the potential to threaten motivation to achieve high cookie sales.
Market and Membership Drive Program & Program Drives Property
Market & Membership: Districts 1 and 2 - Joplin is the second largest population center in the GSMH service area, and the fourth largest metropolitan statistical area in Missouri, hence a vital center for future growth of Girl Scouting. The Joplin Service Center represents 17% of GSMH Service Units, including the twelve (12) Service Units from Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma that form Districts 1 and 2.
The Southwest Region is an underserved area, characterized by poorer than average health statistics, high rates of teen pregnancy and substance abuse, low educational attainment, and wages significantly lower than state average. In 2011, an EF-5 tornado destroyed a wide path in the center of Joplin, displacing 22 Girl Scouts and killing one. This significant social disruption, combined with a six-month suspension of operations at the Joplin Service Center after its sale, significantly impacted membership recruitment and program participation during 2011-2012, but did not prevent the Jasper County Service Team from exceeding its cookie sale goals in 2012 and 2013.
Program: Districts 1 and 2 - The most recent GSMH 990 tax form states, “Camps provide a focus on environmental studies, sports, self-esteem building, and health and fitness. All Girl Scouts are given the opportunity to participate in camp.” In fact, only four (4) Council programs have been conducted at Mintahama from 2010-2013: Pioneer Weekend, Survival Weekend, Archery, and a Service Day where girls and volunteers PAID to provide labor and materials to benefit the property.
In contrast, independent of Council-planned events, the Service Units of Districts 1 and 2 provide high quality, affordable programs every year. In 2012-2013, such programs included a Cookie Rally attended by 200, World Thinking Day attended by 80, Derby races attended by 50, a Juliette Gordon Low Tea Party attended by 320, Day Camp attended by 80, and a Fall Campout attended by 150, and a Spring Campout with reservations of 180, to mention a few.
Property: District 1 and 2 - We have good reason to believe that Council statistics documenting property utilization under-report use of Mintahama and do not represent its potential for utilization with Service Unit-led programs when undertaken in conjunction with Council. We propose closer tracking and documentation for long-range decision making during the coming 24 month period.
Year-round utilization of Mintahama has been prevented due to unwarranted concern about hunting season and winterization issues, and consequently, camp shuts down for six months every year. Allowing groups to utilize the property during these six months would increase utilization and increase financial sustainability.
Service Unit and troop property contributions have been sustained and responsive. Monetary donations have been made (as in 2012 to repaint the pool), multiple clean up days organized, and leaders participated in preparing sites before camp outs, all examples of volunteer dedication to making Camp Mintahama a great place for girls.