JOPLIN, Mo. - In December, the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland closed Joplin's Camp Mintahama -- despite attempts from local troops to save it.
Now -- many parents and scouts say that -- and larger issues -- have caused them to start an effort to replace the board of directors.
Yasmina Mokhtar, Megan Walser and Mary Parker are all part of Joplin girl scout troop 70391.
Megan Walser, 14 year old Girl Scout:"I've learned how to actually take action and not just stand there waiting for someone to do something."
Now, they are putting that to use.
In December, members of their troop and several local parents created a petition to prompt a change of leadership in the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland.
Yasmina Mokhtar, 14 year old Girl Scout:"we felt like we were not being heard by the council and our girl scout board."
The petition would work to remove the current board of directors, select a new board.. and prompt an audit of current finances and plans.
It's something that was started after the troop met with the council in November to look for different avenues for outdoor activities.
Kristy Parker, Troop Leader:"Unfortunately when those questions were asked at the special meeting, they were met with no answers or really vague answers, or no solutions. And that's when the girls realized that really this was a bigger issue of governance."
Joplin resident Sarah Gould has two daughters in girl scouts.. and says she hopes the effort is successful.
Sarah Gould, Parent:"I would want the leadership to change so that we have a sound organization, we have true transparency, and we have voices that are being listened to.. so my girl's being listened to."
No matter what happens, the troop hopes the entire process will help girls learn to stand up for what they believe in.
Walser:"You do actually have a voice. Just keep persisting."
For action to be taken, the petition needs 28-hundred signatures.
They currently have a little more than 300.
We reached out to Anne Soots -- Chief Executive officer for GSMH -- who says that the council is aware of the petition and its contents, but declined to comment further regarding the petition itself.
When asked about transparency for decisions and plans, she responded with a statement that reads: “It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland to take action and make decisions that are in the best interests of our entire organization - decisions that serve girls across all of the counties served by our council. In making this recent decision, the Board took into consideration a property task group recommendation, efforts made by volunteers over the past ten years, the direction of the Girl Scout Movement, and the finances of the council. When the property sales are complete, GSMH will be able to shift the dollars we are currently spending on property to the areas of membership support and recruitment. Additionally, the net proceeds from the sale of these properties will be used to support future growth strategies for the council.”
We also reached out to Lisa Nelson with friends of Camp Mintahama -- the group that helped manage the camp for more than 5 years -- for her thoughts regarding the petition.
She says, "Unfortunately, the petition is a necessary wake up call. For many years local girls and volunteers have been asking council for more outdoor programs, leadership opportunities, and regional representation, and have been ignored. The Joplin-Pittsburg-Miami area has a wonderful girl scout program, thanks to the incredible leadership troop leaders and parents who work with girls, not due to council policies.."
If you would like to learn more about the petition itself, follow this link.
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