Girl Scouts fight to save Parkland’s Camp Telogia

Girl Scouts, volunteers and troop leaders flocked to Parkland City Hall last week, imploring city officials to ask the County Commission not to agree to a request from the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida Inc. to lift the deed restrictions on Camp Telogia in the city, the only Girl Scout camp in Broward County. The organization plans to sell the land and use the money to improve two other camps.

After a debate on the issue, the City Commission decided to pass a resolution urging the County Commission to keep the Camp Telogia site as open space. The city will accept the land, and maintain it as open space, if the county decides to hand the site over, it added.

The county sold the site, which is spread over 9.5 acres, to the Girl Scouts in 1961 for $1. According to the terms of the sale, the organization cannot lease or sell it without the approval of the County Commission.

The discussion on the issue at the City Commission meeting came after Girl Scouts approached the County Commission and requested to save the camp. County officials will vote on the issue on Oct. 13. A petition opposing the lifting of the restrictions on the land has been signed by nearly 1,000 people.

Girl Scouts from Parkland and other cities in northwest Broward who spoke at the City Commission meeting said they had many memories associated with the camp in Parkland. Having a camp close to home has many benefits, they added.

Camp Telogia is an asset that is irreplaceable, and it should not be sacrificed for money, said Scout parents and other volunteers. Marilyn Bonilla Krantz, leader of Troop 10164, exhorted the City Commission to ensure that the camp site is maintained as open space.

“It started with Camp Telogia for most of the Girl Scouts,” said Krantz. “It is the only Girl Scout camp in Broward County. We have to fight to save this site for future generations.”

Girl Scouts Lorna Brown-Burton, chairwoman of the board of directors of the parent organization, defended the decision to sell the land. The organization has had “absolutely no contact” with any developer regarding the property, she said.

Activities such as swimming and canoeing are not available at Camp Telogia, Brown-Burton said. “Girl Scouts simply aren’t spending as much time as they used to at Camp Telogia. While 2,336 Girl Scouts used the site in 2011-2012, the number dropped by more than a half in 2012-2013. There were 412 campers in 2013-2014.”

The other girls-only camp sites are Camp Nocatee and Camp Welaka; more Girl Scouts from Broward County went to Camp Nocatee last year than they did to Camp Telogia, said Lisa Johnson, chief strategy officer for Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida.

“The opposition to the proposal is from a single-service unit, and it is understandable,” said Johnson. “They have had the camp essentially in their backyard, and they want to keep it that way. But it is underutilized. We cannot continue to operate a property long-term for a small number of girls.”

“That area needs to be open space; I will never vote for any development on the site,” said Mayor Michael Udine. “If they want to give the land to Parkland, we will take it.”

Lifting deed restrictions on the land will set a bad precedent, said Commissioner Dave Rosenof. It is not good public policy and may encourage other organizations, such as the Boy Scouts and the Urban League, to follow the same path, he added.

“There was an intent behind giving the site to the Girl Scouts,” said Commissioner Christine Hunschofsky, who pledged $200 to support the campaign to keep the camp site open. “It was an investment in Broward County for Broward County. It is extremely bad policy to give away public land.”

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-cspf-telogia-1014-20151012-story.html

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