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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Volunteers fear that Girl Scout camp will be sold

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A southern Indiana Girl Scout camp that’s hosted decades of camping adventures for girls may be closed as part of a nationwide consolidation of scout councils.

Longtime Girl Scout volunteers Alice Oestreich and Sue Dukeman say a reported $1.2 million debt that the Bloomington-based Tulip Trace Council incurred over the past few years has added to their fears that Camp Belmont may be sold after the consolidation.

They said the financial woes have been kept from them and other volunteers who’ve dedicated much of their lives to girls and scouting.

Camp Belmont covers 283 acres in scenic Brown County’s hill country. It was donated to the Girl Scouts decades ago by sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and his wife, Clara.

Dukeman said that when she questioned Tulip Trace board member Kathleen Boggess about the camp’s possible sale, she got an answer that confirmed her fears and also suggests that the Girl Scouts’ new headquarters on Ind. 46 may go on the market.

“Can you find us a million dollars to pay for our building?” Boggess asked in an e-mail to Dukeman. “In the realignment, if and when it happens, both properties will likely get sold. We don’t want this, but it may have to happen.”

Tulip Trace board president Sue Wanzer would not confirm the council’s million-dollar debt. Girl Scouts USA is a private organization whose financial records and other information are not readily available to the public.

But Wanzer said that if the Tulip Trace’s merger with a Scout council in Indianapolis goes through as planned, it’s quite possible that Camp Belmont, officially called the Belmont Preserve and Outdoor Education Center, could be sold.

The consolidation involving the Tulip Trace Council, which has overseen Girl Scout troops and activities in 15 southern Indiana counties for nearly 50 years, is part of a nationwide plan that will merge 312 councils into 103.

Wanzer said she was disappointed that volunteers such as Oestreich and Dukeman did not wait until three upcoming town meetings on the consolidations to talk publicly about their concerns.

The women said they had received word that a buyer was looking at the Belmont property on Thursday and they worried that it could be sold without anyone knowing.

Wanzer said the property is not currently for sale and no buyers have come forward.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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