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About 31 acres in northwest Lincoln will become an educational facility for area Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska plans to run a year-round club on the site, which is north of Superior Street and west of 14th Street, that would focus on outdoors and environmental education.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission on Wednesday approved a special permit for the club as well as annexation of the 31 acres, plus an adjacent 28 acres.

Michael Davis, Girl Scouts council property director, said peak season for the camp would be April through September. The camp will have day programs only.

Programs will focus on ecological, environmental and horticultural subjects, said Lisa Hiatt, statewide program and outreach director for the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts are planning a 2,200-square-foot education center on the southwestern part of the property.

Davis said a groundbreaking is planned Monday, which is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts.

He said construction should start within a month or two and take about six months to complete.

Long-term plans call for another, larger building that would be headquarters for the Girl Scouts in Lincoln, but Davis said those plans are at least five years off.

The organization plans to keep the site largely non-urban and take advantage of its natural features.

It also plans to add some trails and plant more trees and hopes someday to form an arboretum.

The land for the camp is owned by the Hilltop Foundation, whose board president, Donna Wilcox, is a member of the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska Board of Directors.

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Wilcox is a former Girl Scout herslef, and her mother, Marian Othmer Schultz, helped form the local Girl Scouts chapter in 1941.

Jenny Cardwell, fund development director for the Girl Scouts, said Schultz used to host Girl Scout outings on the property regularly.

She said when the Hilltop Foundation started looking for a group to use the property, "we were kind of a natural fit."

"(Wilcox) definitely wanted to get Girl Scouts back on her parents' former property," Cardwell said.

She said the Girl Scouts have six other camps in Nebraska but none in the Lincoln area and none that will be similar to the Hilltop club.

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Reach Matt Olberding at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com

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