Parents and former Girl Scouts hope to keep Camp Laurel open

Connecticut

LEBANON, Conn. (WTNH) — Girl Scout Morgan Bonaiuto has been going to Camp Laurel since she was six. 

“It’s one of my favorite places,” said Bonaiuto. “I call it my home.”

The Lebanon location is one of four Girl Scouts of Connecticut camps now slated to close. The other three are Camp Carlson in Bristol, Camp Candlewood in New Fairfield, and Camp Katoya in Milford. 

“It’s kind of upsetting to me,” said Bonaiuto.

Girl Scouts of Connecticut says it can’t afford the upkeep on all its thirteen properties so four must go as part of its long-term property plan. 

“It’s necessary first of all because there’s significant deferred maintenance at each of the camp properties,” said Melissa Perkins, Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer for Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Those costs total $5 million and that’s in addition to the upgrades like modernized bathrooms they say most campers surveyed want.

“They’re not really personally important to me,” said Bonaiuto.

Three of the four camps, including Camp Laurel, will be sold and the money is expected to be reinvested into other camps like Camp Yankee Trails in Tolland which is where the Camp Laurel Program will be relocated.

Parent Jennifer Bonaiuto says that’s too far for one New London troop leader who she says told her.

“If Camp Laurel closes that’s it. My girls will have no more trips. They have no more places to go,” relayed Jennifer Bonaiuto.

“We are looking to expand out transportation options to help take some of that burden off of families,” said Perkins.

Sarah Perry went to Camp Laurel and so did her daughter who was thinking of becoming a camp counselor like her mom. 

“I”m just shocked,” said Perry. “It’s just sad.”

A group of former Girl Scouts some of whom have daughters who are now in scouting are really pushing to try to save at least two of these camps. 

At Camp Laurel there is a big effort. There is a ‘Save Camp Laurel’ Facebook page, a change.org petition and also a gofundme page because they say if the organization needs money they are going to try to raise money for it.

“The biggest thing we need to do is we need to change that board’s mind,” said Bonaiuto.

“It is a board approved decision and at this point it is planning on moving forward,” said Perkins.

Camp Laurel will remain open until Camp Yankee Trails is ready to take over that program.

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