WAPPAPELLO - Whether you're up for a general mix of fun, some waterfront activities or could use a little mystery in your life, Girl Scout Camp Latonka has just what you're looking for. There's even a session with night owls in mind.
Since 1951, girls in grades two through 12 have retreated to the 350-acre camp for some time away where they can make new friends, experience new adventures and explore nature.
"The traditions at Camp Latonka have withstood the tests of time and each year we build upon that foundation while bringing into the camp line-up some innovative and exciting program additions," said Renee Trout, program director for the Cotton Boll Area Girl Scout Council.
Along with the variety of sessions available, there are also different length of times offered. Girls can stay anywhere from two nights to 10 nights, with the first session, Brownie Adventure, running from June 9-12, and the final session, Paddle, Pole & Roll, scheduled for July 21-27.
Currently there are 265 girls enrolled for Camp Latonka. Registration is still open and campers are not required to be a Girl Scout to attend. However, two sessions, Mom-n-Me and Back In the Saddle, are already filled.
This year's camp director is Dexter native April Isbell who not only attended Camp Latonka as a girl, but worked as a staff member during college and volunteered as a counselor over the past years for a total of 16 years experience.
"April provides a mature leadership for the staff while offering innovative and fun activities for the girls," commented Executive Director Cynthia Weber. "She truly considers Latonka her home and works very hard to make all girls feel welcome and accepted."
Laura Hendley has many fond memories of her years at Camp Latonka. "I enjoyed everything about Camp Latonka, especially meeting girls from other towns, singing as we cleaned up after each meal and the variety of activities," she said. "I have lots of fond memories. The first night ever as a camper, I drew 'sweep around the table.' I'd just finished the third grade and had never really used a broom before. I was scared to death, but I made it. When I was in Outpost, we took a trip and floated Current River (a first with me) and then there were the three days of camping out at 'Rainbow Valley' when I was in Pioneer. I also remember being called to my freshman orientation group at Murray State University and having a friend I'd made at Camp Latonka in the same group. All of my experiences at camp were memorable."
Added Trout, "My favorite Camp Latonka memories are watching the older girls (CITs, Counselor In Training) and wanting to be just like them and then when I was a CIT, passing on all the songs and stories that I had been taught. That brought a lot of fulfillment. Like they say, the circle never ends."
Trout explained Camp Latonka offers much to its young campers, including learning independence, self-reliance and even self-discovery.
"Girls want a safe space where they can discuss real-life issues with a feeling of confidentiality and trust," noted Trout. "Camp Latonka, with its girls only environment, places the concerns of girls and their safety as its highest priority. The counselors at Camp Latonka serve as positive role models and encourage campers to explore and share their thoughts and feelings. When girls are secure in their surroundings, they have the opportunity to excel in achieving their goals.
"The best benefits for the parents are knowing their daughter is learning and growing in a safe and caring environment. Girls leave camp with a sense of fulfillment. They have accomplished new skills all on their own and developed a sense of belonging to a close knit group. Whether it's as simple as washing dishes together to get the job done or climbing 20 feet in the air to cross a rope bridge, the feelings of confidence and security never leave you. That's the gift Camp Latonka gives to each girl."
Hendley, director of the Sikeston Career and Technology Center, says Girl Scouting and attending Camp Latonka made a big difference in her life.
"Absolutely! All the experiences I had through Girl Scouting and Camp Latonka contributed to the person I am today," she said. "I was able to develop a variety of skills including leadership and management skills which I still use today. The benefits of going to Camp Latonka are enormous. In addition to the leadership skills, I made lifelong friendships. I also learned skills that I believe would make me a good contestant for Survivor (even though that does not interest me). Latonka was an amazing place for me as a young girl. I certainly appreciate all the opportunities it afforded me. Latonka and Girl Scouting still offer the same amazing experiences for girls today."
To register for Camp Latonka call 1-888-780-8373 or 471-1035.