SPICER -- Tucked deep into a thick stand of hardwood trees near Nest Lake, Camp Sanderson has been a peaceful and popular retreat for area Girl Scouts for years.
But when the state's Girl Scout's councils experienced a geographical redesign three years ago, the ownership of the Spicer-area camp also shifted to a different region that included the metro area but not Kandiyohi County.
Girl Scouts from this area still went to Camp Sanderson, but their council did not have jurisdiction over it. Instead, the camps in their council were in Walker, Ely, Duluth and Minong, Wis., all some three to five hours from here.
That is now changing.
In October, the ownership of Camp Sanderson will officially be transferred back to this 39-county council, which is called Girls Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines.
"It's like bringing the camp back home," said Marge Hanson, membership specialist with the Girl Scout office in Willmar. Having jurisdiction over the camp will increase the "personal connection" Girls Scouts here have to the camp, she said. "It just makes more sense to have it with us."
Girl Scouts from Willmar and neighboring towns have been going to Camp Sanderson for years and "the community has helped keep it the beautiful place it is," said Tauna Quimby, director of communications for the Lakes and Pines council office in St. Cloud. "Now to have this jursidiction serving it, makes the relationship more complete."
The transfer of ownership will take place next month, she said, with a ceremony set for next spring when Girl Scouts of the USA also celebrates its 99th year.
Having Camp Sanderson owned by the Lakes and Pines Council will increase its usage because troops, especially those from the St. Cloud area, will like the convenience of traveling to Spicer rather than Ely, Quimby said. Her own teen daughter is "really excited about a camp that's an hour away," she said.
That, in turn, will help increase opportunities for leadership training for young women.
Increasing usage of the camp is also good for its host community, which can benefit from ancillary tourism dollars, Quimby said.
The community's support for Camp Sanderson has always been strong, with local volunteers providing leadership, financing and time, Hanson said.
"It's unique and amazing how the community steps forward" to take care of the camp, said Quimby.
More proof of that is the "S'mores in the City" fundraiser scheduled for 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday at Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer. The event, which includes appetizers, live outdoor entertainment, a silent auction and door prizes, raised $9,000 last year.
It's hoped this second annual event will raise $16,000, said Valerie Amberg, of Willmar, coordinator of the event.
Tickets for the event cost $35 each or $60 for two and are available by calling Val Amberg at CDS Administrative Services, LLC at 320-214-2922 or the Girl Scouts office in Willmar at 320-235-2125.
Because "a lot more girls" will be able to attend Camp Sanderson now, there is a need for additional financial assistance to help them pay for it, Amberg said.
Use of the camp isn't limited to Girl Scouts. The facility, which includes a lodge with winter sleeping, tent cabins and access to Nest Lake, and state bike trails, is available for use by other community organizations.
"People always think the Girl Scout camp is for Girl Scouts only," Hanson said. "That's not the case. It's a community facility."
Girl Scouts in West Central Minnesota
With an office in Willmar, girl scouting in West Central Minnesota facilitates families in 19 towns, including Appleton, Atwater, Montevideo, Murdock, Graceville, Grove City, Spicer and Sunburg.
There are currently 96 traditional troops with 677 girls in K-12 grade and 179 leaders.
The region also includes nine non-traditional outreach programs with 130 girls and 19 leaders. Alternative programs includes Girl Scouts Pathways and the Staying In School to Achieve Real Success (SISTERS) Club, which is in its second year at Roosevelt School in Willmar. The program combines physical activity with homework help.
Troops will be forming in Willmar at the registration night at 7 p.m. on Sept. at Kennedy Elementary.
For more information about Girl Scouts in West Central Minnesota contact Marge Hanson or Norma Carranza at the office in Willmar: 320-235-2125 or visit www.gslakesandpines.org.