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Ohio Girl Scout cookie boycott continues
Group may challenge campground sales in court as well

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M.L. Schultze
Several girl scout troops in Northeast Ohio are not giving up their cookie sale boycout which began in protest against the closing of four camps in the area.
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Some Northeast Ohio Girl Scouts are continuing their boycott of their annual cookie sales in an ongoing dispute over the sale of four of the region’s seven scout camps. And WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that more direct action could be coming.

SCHULTZE Cookie sale boycott

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Donna Spiegler is a member of Trefoil Integrity, a group that tried to block the sales of the four campgrounds at a general assembly meeting in the fall. They fell  short of the votes they needed, and Spiegler says the boycott is a logical extension of that protest.

Spiegler: “When they sell cookies, they sell cookies to fund these troop camping experiences. If they’re not going to be able to camp at the camps they love – they’ve reached these conclusions on their own. That they can be Girl Scouts, but not sell cookies because there’s no point in selling cookies if they can’t camp at their camps.”

But the chief financial officer of the scouting council, John Graves, says the camps are too old and expensive to maintain. The council is converting the three remaining campgrounds into leadership centers, that could include climbing walls and adventure courses.

Graves: “When I talk to girls, they want certain things at their camps and as far as the location – they don’t care where they go. They want to have a good time, they want to be with their friends, they want to make new friends and they want to do some fun things.” 

The protest is not likely to end with the cookie-sale boycott. Spiegler says her group is raising money to sue the Northeast Ohio Girl Scout Council.

Listener Comments:

Thank you M.L. Schultze for continuing to educate the public, however please understand the girls are not going from 7 camps to 3. GSNEO has already closed 7 other camps! And going from 14 camps to 3 is neither financially necessary or advisable. GSNEO has the money! The girls and volunteers earned it for them!!! The GSNEO Board has elected to pay a 6 figure salary to their CEO, double staff and pay for expensive office buildings rather than serve the needs of the kids or listen to their members. I work directly with the girls. Mr. Graves does not. The girls DO CARE where they camp. The girls NEED and want the local GS camps they already have. Since GSNEO appears determined to take camps away from the girls, many girls decided not to sell cookies. Plain and simple. This Board clearly does not understand what Girl Scouting is all about. Maybe some 5 to 17 year old children can teach them.

Posted by: GS Troop Leader (Canton, OH) on January 20, 2012 1:01AM
John Graves is absolutely wrong about everything he says here. In the first place, these camps are neither too old nor too expensive to maintain. Many are old, but that doesn't mean our girls don't want them. Take a troop camping in one of the historic mansions at Crowell-Hilaka to see what I mean. It's a magical experience for them. Just because something is old doesn't mean we should throw it away. Secondly, the cost to bring all 7 camps up to code was estimated by GSNEO's own Vision 2012 committee to be approximately $2 million. The overall budget of GSNEO is approx. $11 million with $8.5 million being brought in by the product sales of the girls themselves. Those same girls want to keep their camps and have been ignored.
It is also blatantly untrue that girls do not care where they go. What we heard from the girls (and adult volunteers) at "visioning" meetings at Council headquarters this summer was that they love their camps just as they are, and only want what they already have. The research of the Vision 2012 committee also showed that troops did NOT want to drive over an hour to get to a camp. With three remaining camps, this will be the only option for many girls--particularly those in the South region--who wish to go to a Girl Scout camp.
As for adventure courses, Mr. Graves doesn't have to look far to find them. Crowell-Hilaka has a high ropes course (including a zip line), a low ropes course, and a rock wall. It would make much more sense to bring these courses up to code (after being originally neglected by GSNEO) than to scrap this entire camp and build these elements again elsewhere.
I am certain Mr. Graves knows this. All the board and higher ups at GSNEO should know this. Moreover, they've heard us say we don't premier leadership centers before. The board ignored a resolution passed by the delegates in October to cease and desist with all camp sales pending an honest and thorough re-evaluation of the usage of camps, and the needs and wants of the membership. Rob Richardson's comment is correct. We want our camps, but this is about more than camps. This is about the fact that the board of directors and higher-ups at GSNEO have made a mockery of the democratic process and needs and wants of the girls they are supposed to be serving.

Posted by: Rachel Oppenheimer (Berea) on January 19, 2012 10:01AM
As many people have told your reports repeatedly, the issue is not that camps are closing. It is the process GSNEO used to decide to close them. GSNEO has consistently ignored its own bylaws and those of GSUSA, ignored the will of its membership, and repeatedly and outrageoulsy lied to its members and to the media. Its actions have been meticulously documented at Click on the "Violations" and "Timeline" tabs for details. We, the members of Trefoil Integrity, have tried and tried and tried to get this aspect of the story into the news media, and we have been consistently ignored. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss any of this through any public forum.

Posted by: Rob Richardson (Bedford, OH) on January 19, 2012 7:01AM
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