Girl Scouts fight to keep camps


By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

Macedonia

Girls and adults opposed to the closing of Girl Scout camps in the North East Ohio Region say they have gathered enough delegate signatures to force a board of director’s special meeting on the controversial issue.

The Girl Scouts of North East Ohio board has said it plans to close all but two of the 18-county region’s remaining seven camps, including Camp Sugarbush in Johnston Township in Trumbull County.

Camp supporters, known as the Trefoil Integrity Coalition, say in an email that it submitted 51 signatures to the Girl Scout office (50 signatures are required to force a board meeting) on Sept. 30, and that the board must have a special meeting within 30 working days.

In a statement via email, the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio said it has received a written request from some of the voting members of the general assembly requesting a special meeting. The request is under review by council staff, legal counsel and a parliamentarian.

If it is confirmed to be a valid request according to the GSNEO Code of Regulations, then a special meeting of the general assembly will be called within 30 business days.

If the request is in proper order, general assembly members will be notified not less than 10 calendar days before the scheduled meeting. At that time, an announcement of the special-meeting date and time will be posted on gsneo.org.

Lynn Scholle Richardson, a Trefoil Coalition spokeswoman, said delegates are girls 14 and older and adults who have been elected as delegate representatives.

The purpose of the special delegate meeting is to vote on a series of resolutions calling for a halt to the sale of local Girl Scout camp properties until the GSNEO plan “can be more fully evaluated.”

The resolutions to be voted on require that camps cannot be sold unless two-thirds of the council’s assembly approves, Richardson said.

According to Trefoil, in 2009 the GSNEO Board announced the closing of nine of 14 camps in the region. Seven of the camps were sold or given back to the property owners, leaving seven camps active.

Two camps — Crowell Hilaka in Richfield in Summit County and Great Trail in Minerva in Carroll County — were closed pending further discussion, but after protests, were partially reopened.

In April, GSNEO said five of the seven remaining camps, including Camp Sugarbush, would be sold to fund development of the remaining two camps — Camp Timberlane in Wakeman and Camp Ledgewood in Peninsula — into “Premier Leadership Centers.”

“The girls and their troop leaders fund this council through cookie and other product sales. They have questions that have yet to be answered by the staff and board of GSNEO regarding the sale of the camps. They expect and insist on having a voice at this critical time,” said Corey Ann Ringle, one of the delegates organizing the signature drive.

“We have been told it is not a financial decision, so why rush into selling the land? We need to make sure that every aspect is considered and every alternative option explored before we lose any more land. Once these camps are sold, they are gone forever,” Ringle said.

The GSNEO board has not consulted with its delegates or their membership in reaching this decision. They have not responded in any meaningful way to those who question this decision, Ringle said.

The Trefoil Integrity Coalition demands that members of GSNEO’s board respond to their members, or resign, she added.

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