Girl Scouts to Vacate Saki

4705377069_723b392842_zLooking Back

Located on the shores of Bass Lake in Traverse City is the home of Girl Scout Camp Sakakawea, fondly called Camp Saki by the many children and adults who use it yearly. It is also the home of wildlife, virgin forest, marshland and a pristine waterfront.

For years, Girl Scouts in the Traverse City area shared Camp Greilick with Boy Scouts and other organizations. All that changed in the mid-50s when Rotarians Dr. John Hayes and Dr. Frank Power, along with his wife Margot who was a longtime leader, drew the assignment of finding a new home for Girl Scouts.

Dr. Power would conduct camp property searches by air over Grand Traverse County until ultimately the site southwest of Traverse City on Bass Lake was found. In the summer of 1955, Girl Scouts (then Aspen Trails Council) held their first pioneer camp at what was to become known as Camp Sakakawea.

A trust partnership and 99-year lease between Rotary and Girl Scouts has been in effect since that time with Rotary as the financial partner.

The first major construction on the property was the Oleson Lodge completed in 1960. It was built in memory of the late Frances E. Oleson. Over the past 50 years, Camp Sakakawea has undergone major construction and renovation projects turning it into a year-round facility. To protect the property in its natural state, a conservation easement was donated to Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy in 2004.

Going Forward

Effective January 31, 2018 the Girl Scouts will vacate Saki. Rotary has resumed offering the Greilick Outdoor Recreation & Education Center (f/k/a Camp Greilick) to the Girl Scouts (and others), as it was from 1923 to 1955.

The Council has reserved 16 weekends through the end of 2019 to be exclusively for Girl Scout use. At the same time they sadly announced their departure from the Camp Saki, they announced a new cooperative relationship for the use of Greilick Outdoor Recreation & Education Center (GOREC). This helps Camps increase Greilick’s user-base with another solid anchor tenant, while offering all of Greilick’s great amenities to a new group of young people.

In a Letter to GSMISTS stakeholders, the Board Chair stated:

“We will all be sad to say farewell to Camp Saki, but the new partnership with Rotary Camps will enable us to use our resources wisely and assure outdoor opportunities for girls in the Traverse City area. With the savings, GSMISTS can help support the cost of using GOREC  and invest in the maintenance and improvement of other properties. We hope that you will see this as a win-win.”

It is also important to note that this new arrangement is about facility sharing only, and has nothing to do with the Boy Scouts recent announcement that they will be accepting girls and family units into their programs.