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news article: not Manitoba too!

by on June 4, 2010

Closing of Girl Guides camp stirs outrage
By: Sandy Klowak

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2010 A4

A decision to close Caddy Lake Girl Guide Camp for the first time in more than 60 years has sparked outrage within the Girl Guides organization.

The camp, located in Whiteshell Provincial Park, announced in late May it’s closing its doors this season due to low registration rates combined with rising costs, said Debra Halligan, the provincial commissioner and chairwoman of the Manitoba Council of Girl Guides of Canada.

“(Attendance has) been going downhill for approximately 10 years,” Halligan said. While several years back the camp ran for eight weeks and attracted 600-800 girls a season, in recent years it had fewer than 100 campers in a shortened four-week run, she said. The camp provides programming for Girl Guides as well as non-members, and is owned and operated by the Girl Guides of Winnipeg.

But Danielle Paquette, public relations chairwoman for the Caddy Lake Camp Committee, says her group is angry about the decision to close the camp, and how it was made.

“I don’t think they have the right to make this decision in the way they have,” she said.

Paquette said the executive committee who made the decision didn’t follow proper procedure, including ensuring there was a voting quorum as mandated in the committee’s terms of reference. She has launched an investigation with the national office into the legitimacy of the decision to close Caddy Lake Camp.

“I don’t believe the camp was closed in good faith,” she said. “I don’t believe it was a good decision.”

Paquette says lack of financial viability isn’t a good enough excuse to close such an important service. She says running the camp at a deficit is the norm, and the financial hit is manageable.

“As a non-profit organization our first priority should not be to make money.”

Despite the camp’s many benefits, Halligan said it’s become too big a financial burden to the organization as a whole.

“It’s a terrible thing but the costs just keep rising. We have a responsibility to all our members,” not just those that benefit from the camp, Halligan said.

Paquette is a Girl Guide and Pathfinders leader whose 15-year-old daughter hasn’t missed a summer at Caddy Lake in nine years — until now. Paquette herself has strong childhood ties to the camp.

“It’s the type of place that gets into someone’s heart and once it’s in, it’s stuck,” she said. “It helps girls improve their self-esteem. It makes them more independent.”

There were rumblings about closing the camp in 2004 but the executive committee ultimately chose to keep it running. Halligan said the decision to close Caddy Lake’s doors will be revisited this fall to determine whether the camp will be reopened or closed permanently.

Meanwhile, Paquette is waiting to hear back from the national board about the closure’s legitimacy, and won’t be letting up any time soon.

“There’s a lot of us that won’t see it (the camp) go down without a fight,” she said.

sandy.klowak@freepress.mb.ca

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One Comment
  1. Dani Paquette permalink

    I was amazed to see that the story has hit Ontario too! Can I become a member of your group? I think my entire committee might be interested in joining!

    Keep fighting! I know I am going to!

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