By AMY LINDBLOM
A week-long camp program that up 250 Tuolumne County Girl Scouts attend each summer is in jeopardy because the owner of the Pinecrest camp, the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, wants to raise rates by at least $6,400.
Each July for the last 15 years, Tuolumne County's Girl Scouts spend a week at Camp Sylvester learning to canoe, swimming in Pinecrest Lake, hiking, learning about nature, working on merit badges and just enjoying the woods. It is the largest Girl Scout camp in the Muir Trail Council, which encompasses Merced, Mariposa, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties, said Alice Anderson, Girl Scout camp director.
For the last few years, the scouts paid a flat $8,000 to the farm bureau to use the camp for the week, said Paul Howay, a Girl Scout parent helping negotiate a new contract with the bureau.
Generally, junior high and high school-aged scouts spend the entire week at the 22-cabin camp with parent volunteers as chaperones. Younger Daisies and Brownies, ages 5 through 8, are day campers, and have paid a lower price for camp.
Howay said he recently received a new contract calling for a dollar-per-day increase from $11 to $12 for each scout, regardless of whether they are day campers or overnight campers. At that rate, the total price for 200 campers for the week would be $14,400, Howay said.
"We simply cannot afford that, and a lot of girls will not be able to go to camp," Howay said.
Ron Macedo, farm bureau director in charge of negotiations with the Girl Scouts, said the $8,000 fee the Girl Scouts have been paying doesn't cover the cost of running the camp for a week.
Macedo also cited an increase in the bureau's liability insurance premium.
"We haven't come to a final price, and we will take into consideration the day campers. We are trying to make it fair for everyone," Macedo said.
Other camps in Tuolumne County charge considerably more than Camp Sylvester. Southern Baptist Jenness Park Encampment, near Cold Springs, charges $54 a night per camper, and San Jose Family Camp in Groveland charges $38 a night for adults and $15.50 a night for children between the ages of 3 and 5.