I was pleased to see that a June 24 Mail Tribune article published about Tomlin Outdoor Program Center honored the rich history of Girl Scouting in Southern Oregon and shed light on the dedicated volunteers that serve girls in the Rogue Valley. The article fell short, however, of looking beyond the difficult emotions involved in letting something loved go, and looking forward to the future of the most important people Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington serves — girls.
As a Girl Scout community, we've worked together to make difficult decisions about closing properties, affecting Southern Oregon and many other parts of our council jurisdiction. These decisions are painful, and hard to make. For adults, it's especially difficult to see a much-loved camp close — these places are tied to their Girl Scout stories and evoke nostalgia. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that while the outdoor experience may change, it is not going away. A new generation of girls will develop their own Girl Scout stories, from equally meaningful and valuable experiences in new places.
Camping and outdoor education are integral components of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, and have been a focal point of Girl Scouting since its founding in 1912. Our commitment to creating outdoor opportunities for all girls in our council has not wavered; on the contrary, it is stronger than ever. We have taken and will continue to take steps to provide these opportunities now and in the future.
A large component of the outdoor experience for girls in our council is delivered through Girl Scout day camp programs. These programs are 100 percent volunteer-run, and the majority of them take place on properties not owned by Girl Scouts. Programs like Tomlin Day Camp offer girls the opportunity to be outdoors, try new activities, grow leadership skills and make lasting friendships, which is why we are committed to helping the program continue in a new place. We have pledged support in finding a suitable new location for the camp to continue in 2014, and will cover facility costs in the first year.
In addition to continuing the day camp experience, developing strong resident camp and other outdoor education opportunities is now the focus of our council's Long Range Property Plan. The next phase of this plan includes determining what kind of outdoor program activities girls in Southern Oregon and throughout our council want and need. We will then make improvements to existing properties or explore opportunities at new properties (including those not owned by Girl Scouts) that meet girls' needs.
Funds from the sale of Girl Scout properties like Tomlin Outdoor Program Center will be used to benefit girls. Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington is committed to making investments in outdoor program opportunities for girls in Southern Oregon.
As has been the case throughout this process, we will continue in the coming months and years to listen to and seek input from our members. We look forward to partnering with girls, their families and the volunteers who serve them to home in on the experiences girls want and need, and work to make them happen in a financially sustainable way.
In Girl Scouting we depend on the support, commitment and understanding of our members and our communities. We are working hard to secure a strong future for girls in all areas of our council, and we cannot do this alone.
We are always open to your thoughts and comments. Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 2001 N. Keene Way Drive, Medford, OR 97504.
Karen Hill is chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington.