Although change is not necessarily a bad thing, too many changes too fast is harmful for individuals. The same may be true of organizations. Excessive change may strain the structure of the organization beyond the point of sustainability, especially when the change is away from the backbone (camping and the outdoors) of the organization and its volunteer base.
In the past dozen years we have seen multiple, sweeping changes through Girl Scouting nationally and locally:
- rise & fall of Studio2B
- national re-alignments and our own council merger - Introduction of Journeys as the core GSUSA program
- restructuring of age levels and introduction of Ambassadors
- loss of 6 of our camps - badge options being completely re-done
- new handbooks for all age levels
Now we are also faced with the loss of most of our camps, leaving us with 2 when two years ago we had 13. In spite of the promises of the GSNEO board that camping is not going away, the reality is that our camps are a thread of continuity. The traditions and experiences associated with these specific parcels of land are important to the members.
It is possible to continue in Girl Scouting after having lost one's camp. But what if at the same time, you have also lost your familiar council structure, the familiar badges, and are asked to take on a whole new program format?
* * * * * On the other hand - what if we kept all the camps? * * * * * *
The program space is already there - we would need to arrange camp availability to facilitate Journeys for troops and short term groups. In-school groups could take field trips there.
Planning for camp is already a financial literacy experience as girls plan their meals and supplies to fit into their troop budget. We could emphasize this aspect more. During the 2008 -2009 program year (the most recent year for which council posted this information ). only 1,700 girls participated in financial literacy programs. If a program module were developed to use for troop camp planning, the rate of participation would skyrocket.
Camping has ALWAYS been a leadership program. At the most basic level, even when "camping" in a house, girls gain the independence of "surviving" away from their familiar home environment and learning to adapt. Girls take on responsibility for specific roles at camp and get immediate feedback on how well these were accomplished and plan what they want to repeat, what they want to change next time around.
Keeping the camps means keeping our options for the future open.
As the world becomes more technologically sophisticated, girls will need to develop parallel technical skills. But they will also need - more than ever - to have "training" in basic adaptability, problem-solving, group negotiations. Skills learned by hands-on experience at camp. They will also need grounding in the physics of the natural world - whose laws govern our lives even when we think we have devised ways to live apart from it. As environmental awareness becomes ever more critical - Girl Scouts - with their camps- will be ahead of the curve.
"Adapt or die" is a driving force of nature that has also become a business philosophy.
There is no question that Girl Scouting has to change with the times. But rushing forward into into the first thing that presents itself is not necessarily a change that will lead to success. In nature there are many early deaths. In business there are many failures. It's our job to make sure that Girl Scouting neither dies nor fails. It needs to stay relevant for today's girls while staying true to itself. It may not gather 100% "market share', but it will stay meaningful for those girls who want the uniqueness of the Girl Scouting program.
*This is NOT a financial decision. It is a PROGRAMMING choice.
Selling 5 camps to turn 2 camps into leadership centers will NOT save GSNEO money in the long run.
* What is a Premier Leadership Center?
* How did the GSNEO Board of Directors reach this decision?
* What are the true statistics of camp usage?
* What alternatives were considered?
* How will enough capacity to meet demand be maintained?
For more information, click on above asterisks.
More unanswered questions!
*Tell your delegate to vote yes on October 29th on the ammendment to stop the sale of the camps until a further evaluation with accurate data is conducted.
*Make a donation to help save the camps
* Talk to everyone you know
* Host a booth or table at community events
* Post posters in libraries
* Write letters to the editors of newspapers (Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, etc.)
* Write letters to GSNEO staff, GSNEO Board of Directors, and GSUSA
Click here for letter writing ideas and addresses.