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Girl Scouts' Telogia Camp to stay in Parkland

Commissioner withdraws motion to allow sale of land

PARKLAND, Fla. – Girl Scouts in Parkland are celebrating after Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter withdrew a motion Tuesday to allow the Scouts' mother organization, Jupiter-based Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, to sell its Telogia Camp.

Girl Scout mothers and their daughters said they are happy by the decision, but said they were disappointed that they didn't have an opportunity to have their voices heard.

"We were told the decision had been made, and the decision was final, and this decision will not be reversed," Girl Scout mother Cynthia San Severino said. "So we were here to give our voice and we're disappointed that there are girls here who wanted to speak out, and we wanted to show them what Girl Scouting is all about."

"I missed school. I missed all my classes to come here and give a speech and say my beliefs and I wasn't able to," Girl Scout Annalee Shapiro said.

The Telogia Camp has served as a retreat for Girl Scouts in the area for 54 years, ever since Broward County taxpayers gave the 9.5 acres of wilderness in Parkland to them back in 1961, with the caveat written in the deed that it always be used for the benefits of Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida asked commissioners to allow them to sell the land because they claimed it was underutilized and too expensive to maintain.

The issue caused a major rift between local Girl Scout leaders, like Marci Talisman, and the Southeast Florida Council.

"I feel that Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida has kind of lost touch of what is important to girls, pushing things that our girls don't seem to be interested in like mall madness lock-ins or spending the night in a movie theater," Talisman said. "Those are things they could do any night. They look to scouting as a different experience -- an outdoor experience."

Ritter presented the motion to allow the sale, saying she drives by the site every day, only to see it locked up. But Talisman and other leaders said the camp is utilized through the school year, and it is locked up at all times, whether girls are there or not.

Talisman is one of several Scout leaders in Broward County who wanted to save the camp from what they claim is little more than a money grab by the organization, and what they believe is a methodical liquidation of assets in Broward County in favor of surrounding counties also controlled by the council.

Talisman said the camp is utilized by hundreds of Girl Scouts and costs less than $20,000 a year to maintain.

On Tuesday, the local Girl Scouts went to the Commission prepared with $40,000 in pledges to save the camp. Commissioner Lois Wexler also gave $20,000 out of her discretionary fund to help the camp. 

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