The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois is recommending closing and selling its four camps - an idea that has received some criticism this week after the announcement.
Despite growing Girl Scouts membership, leaders say, only 10 percent of the nearly 20,000 Girl Scouts in the council attend a Girl Scouts summer camp.
The numbers, leaders say, show girls' shifting priorities.
Stacy Conforti is director of leadership experiences for Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. She said Girl Scouts is about so much more than just how some people perceive it, "the whole idea that Girl Scouts is about camping, cookies and crafts, when, in reality, Girl Scouts is about leadership, and it's been about leadership for over 100 years."
With declining camp attendance in recent years, the council is looking to meet girls' needs in different ways. Conforti said numbers show the girls are more interested in travel and technology than traditional camping.
Dubuque Senior High School senior and girl scout, 18-year-old Madison Davis, said she's saddened by the possibility of the council selling its camps.
"It was shocking, and I had never even thought about camp being closed. It was kind of an unthinkable thing for me," said Davis, who is one of three girl members on the council's nearly 30-person board of directors. "It kind of broke my heart that I've had such great experiences at camp and I've become who I am because of what I've learned at camp and what I've done at camp and future generations of girls and future girls of this generation will not get that same experience."
This recommendation, however, is far from passed.
"Camping is one aspect of Girl Scouts," Conforti said. "We do over 360 programs for girls and we have focus areas. Outdoors and the environment is one of them. We will always do outdoor and environmental programs."
The council is currently seeking public input on the proposal. People can submit that online HERE or attend one of the public input meetings:
- WATERLOO MEETING: Monday, Feb. 11 @ 6-8 p.m. @ First Methodist Church
- CEDAR RAPIDS MEETING: Tuesday, Feb. 12 @ 6-8 p.m. @ the Girl Scouts Area Leadership Center
- BURLINGTON MEETING: Thursday, Feb. 21 @ 6-8 p.m. @ the Girl Scouts Area Leadership Center
- DUBUQUE MEETING: Thursday, March 7 @ 6-8 p.m. @ the Cathedral of St. Raphael
- QUAD CITIES MEETING: Tuesday, March 12 @ 6-8 p.m. @ the Girl Scouts Area
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois council board of directors will vote on the recommendation at its March 28 meeting.
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