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Letter to the Editor

Writer says sale of Girl Scout Camp Cofitachiqui "disgraceful"

web posted May 28, 2009
Dear Editor,
It is disgraceful that the SC Mountains to Midlands Council of Girl Scouts of America wants to sell Camp Cofitachiqui in Edgefield county two years after an administrative switch transferred it from Augusta’s Central Savannah River Council.  The Carolina Council is in a rush to sell off its lands in an effort to bring scouting “inside” to facilities like Columbia’s Urban Leadership Center.   Only three of its camps will remain.

The beautiful tract of land along the Edisto River’s westernmost tributary was donated by Aikenite Claudia Phelps - a contemporary of Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of the Girl Scouts.  It is an excellent example of the fall line zone – the transition line between the piedmont and sand hills with a wide variety of rare plants including loblolly bay, holly, kalmia and many wildflowers.  The land falls from sand hills to coastal plain along Paces Creek and its tributaries.  Animals include numerous birds, including nesting pairs of pileated woodpeckers, reptiles, amphibians, beaver, deer, and the occasional bear.

For over 50 years volunteers have built and maintained miles of hiking trails, a 250-foot suspension bridge, numerous tent platforms and shelters, and just recently a series of beautiful “tree house” shelters.  Thousands of girls, boys and families have forged lifelong friendships and bonds with nature in the camp. 

The Central Savannah River Council recently fought alongside local residents to oppose a major chicken factory farm that would have ruined the area.  They helped create a special rural-residential zone to protect the area from future threats.

The people of western SC were better served by the Georgia Council and should rise up in protest of the sale by the Carolina chapter that is so quick to throw away tradition, goodwill, and the hard work of local volunteers.   An injunction should be sought by local citizens through SC Administrative Law Court requiring that the sale of the land be to a group like the Heritage Trust, Sierra Club, Boy Scouts, the State, or any other group dedicated to the preservation of the land in perpetuity – as envisioned by its donor.   Ms. Phelps- would be appalled with the idea of selling off our heritage in order to move scouting inside!

Mark Roberts
Trenton, SC

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