The Girl Scouts of South Carolina’s Mountains to Midlands Council is building a new center in Columbia that will be the first of its kind in the country.
“This has been a long time in the making,” President and CEO Kim Hutzell said.
The “place of destination,” as Hutzell called it will be located ear the Congaree River. The Cathy Novinger Leadership Center will be a place for scouts from the Mountains to Midlands Council’s 22 counties to gather for adventure, education, community service, and fun. The facility will include office space, educational labs, gathering space and temporary residential space for overnight programs.
Hutzell said the central location gives girls from the council opportunities to see Columbia’s attractions while enjoying kayaking or other outdoor activities on the Congaree River. The Mountains to Midlands council includes troops from the Upstate and Midlands regions.
“We have multiple counties where over 40 percent of the girls have never left the county in which they’re born, so you don’t know what you don’t know,” Hutzell said. “If we can expose girls to what South Carolina has to offer, being a destination for girls regionally and nationally.”
“It will support programs in the STEM and career development. It will do financial literacy. Or how do you continue to handle the largest business — the cookie sale business is the largest business that the girls participate in and they keep all that money locally.”
Hutzell said the council asked communities, parents, leaders, and the girls themselves what they want and expect from the Girl Scouts.
“They wanted to get dirty, have fun, but then they also wanted to have the opportunity to sleep in the air conditioning at night,” Hutzell said. “They told us they wanted to learn more about careers. They wanted to have the opportunity to ask questions and have hands-on learning. They told very clearly that they want time just to be girls.”
According to Hutzell, the Girl Scouts wanted to provide this 32,000 square-foot facility since women’s facilities in South Carolina are not well-funded.
10,000 girls and 4,000 volunteers participate in Girl Scouts in South Carolina. It is the largest organization serving women and girls in the state.
Plans for the facility have been in the works for five years. The council had to consolidate and liquidate some of its other facilities to get enough money to pay for the project. At the groundbreaking ceremony this week, the council announced a capital campaign to raise the remaining $1 million.
The remodeling is expected to be completed in summer 2019.
For more information or to donate, click here or call 1-800-849-GIRL.