Saturday, March 31, 2012

Save Westana ~ Westana Winter Camp 2011, troop 3391

Daily Interlake Editorial March 31

"And in the meantime, state officials could earn their own merit badge by taking another look at this exorbitant lease increase. At the very least consideration should be given to phasing in bigger lease payments over several years."

It’s ironic that just as the Girl Scouts have kicked off a centennial celebration for the national youth organization, the state of Montana stands ready to pull the plug on a local Girl Scout camp that has helped thousands of girls learn life skills for 50 years.

Camp Westana on Lower Stillwater Lake north of Whitefish could close because the Girl Scouts can’t afford an annual lease increase from $5,000 to $25,000. Scout leaders are weighing a number of options but already have said that kind of increase is cost-prohibitive.

A worst-case scenario is that Camp Westana would be bulldozed to clear the way for the state to do something more lucrative with the land. It would demolish five decades’ worth of hard work by countless volunteers who have expanded and improved the camp facilities through the years.
Since 1962 Camp Westana has been a special place to teach girls values such as fairness, courage, compassion and confidence. These young girls must be asking where the fairness is in this situation.
The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, mandated to capture full market value from all of its leases on nearly 5.9 million acres of school trust lands, has determined Camp Westana’s 7.2 acres and 300 feet of lake frontage is worth $500,000. That’s why the Girl Scouts’ lease is increasing five-fold.
The mandate to generate revenue to support public schools certainly is a worthy cause; schools need money, too. But it seems the pendulum has swung too far in recent years. This all-or-nothing approach makes it next to impossible for nonprofit groups to compete for use of the state lands. The Girl Scouts could buy a permanent easement for a half-million dollars, but unless some deep-pocketed benefactor steps forward that seems unlikely.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TV News Story Article: KCFW March 28

(Link to article and VIDEO)

*Also see Press Coverage Page for links to 6 newspaper articles and 2 news stories (including this one) since Monday

Local Girl Scouts Have Traditions Rooted In Camp Westana


POSTED: 6:51 pm MDT March 28, 2012
UPDATED: 7:08 pm MDT March 28, 2012
From daisies to ambassadors, Girl Scouts of all ages spend hours at Camp Westana.

"They learn how to set up tents, how to cook meals outside, and they learn camaraderie," said Service Unit Manager Naureen Sago, "They learn to get along with older girls and so they learn that there's more than just them in their unit."

Kendra Sago, a Girl Scouts Ambassador, says she completed her Gold Award at Westana, "It's kind of helped me realize that once you've made a goal it's very rewarding to actually go through and finish it and you can see the outcome of it."

Generations of Girl Scouts have learned life lessons at Westana for half a century - but that may soon be threatened by a lease increase of 5 times what the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming pay now. The lease is figured at 5% of the state's new $500,000 appraisal of the camp.

A group of Columbia Falls troop leaders wanted to get the word out and created a "Save Camp Westana" Facebook page and blog.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easement Application Process

As you can see throughout our sites, our lease has gone up above what we can pay.  There are multiple options to consider, none of which are simple (see the Lease Notice Letter link at the top of this blog).  We want to research them and be able to make proposals to council that are as viable as possible.

Options like paying the annual rate (even with the help of other entities), or a land exchange (which is complicated in general, but further so by the high appraised value of the property) are not off the table, but are problematic.  An easemet, as evidenced by the success so far of Kidsport (see the Interlake article linked to in the following post), is seeming like a viable avenue for us to pursue.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Daily Interlake article today about Westana!

I didn't notice we were in the paper today!  Take a look!

And area folks, don't forget to write your letters to council (see the tab at the top of the page)

Daily Interlake Article: Lease increase may doom Girlscout camp


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Look what I just found....a blog devoted to saving Girl Scout and Boy Scout Camps!

The site is, which offers the following description of their organization:
It seems that almost monthly we hear about another scout camp or nature camp being put up for sale. is a project of LandChoices, a 501c3 national nonprofit land conservation organization based in Milford, Michigan. is part of LandChoices’ Big Camps program to save camps for kids. was established to provide information about how Scout and other outdoor camps can be saved from being sold for development.
They have toolkits, tips, videos and links to resources.  Please take a look at their toolkit page and see if you can help sift through this site and see if their are tips you'd be excited about getting us going on for Westana or spearheading or at least bringing to our attention.  I haven't begun to sift through it myself, and it may be a few days until I can, so please let me know what ideas stand out the most!

If that seems daunting, no worries, consider book marking it and taking a look at it later.

For now, our top priority is letter writing (look for a tab/page on this blog for where to send it and more info).

Thanks, Angela!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mark the centennial by saving Westana! What could be more meaningful?

Girlscouts mark 100 years of closing gender gaps 

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Recruited over tea at the mansion of a Georgia widow, the first Girl Scouts went on to earn proficiency badges for cooking meals and caring for babies. In a nod to their changing times, they also learned to shoot rifles and self-defense tactics such as "how to secure a burglar with eight inches of cord."
Now a century has passed and millions of Americans have taken the Girl Scout promise, sold Samoas and Thin Mints by the truckload and gone on to careers from CEOs to astronauts. As they celebrate their 100th anniversary this month, the Girl Scouts of the USA boast a record of progressiveness built on combining lessons in domestic know-how with outdoor adventures and technical skills aimed at teaching girls they can do anything.

Read more:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Start by Liking us on Facebook, lots of support opportunities will be coming!

The facebook page is almost as new as this blog, so please join/like/follow and check back again in a few days to see how far we can get in getting our technology ready and getting ourselves rolling.

The value of this camp is too much to convey in a short starter-post, but there are photos and info on the facebook page about the lease increase notice (that will make the camp unavailable after September, 2012, if council has to sell/end the lease!)

If you start a blog, have Westana photos or stories you'd like to link to or share, and/or see other resources we should link to, tell me and I'll put links up on this blog.

There'll be pages on this blog with different kinds of actions we need help with (ranging from little to big) and different types of ideas we'd like to explore, but a great starting point is letter writing (see facebook page if you haven't been to Westana yourself, and see the lease notice page to see what our council is up against).