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Mancos Girl Scout adventure camp seeks to expand

‘Outdoor escape room’ open to more Colorado girls
A group of Girl Ccouts goes rafting during a past Camp Conundrum.

Two Mancos-area Girl Scout troops are opening their annual adventure camp to more people.

This is the sixth year troop leaders Frieda Knezek and Tressa Jukes have hosted Camp Conundrum, a mystery-themed camp for their Scouts. But in 2018 they hope to expand the guest list to include girl Scouts from all over Colorado. The camp, which Knezek described as an “outdoor adventure escape room,” will be held at the McPhee Recreation Complex in Dolores on July 13-15.

Inspired by Durango’s Conundrum Escape Room, each Camp Conundrum requires the Scouts to find clues and solve an imaginary mystery by the end of the weekend. Knezek said the Scouts often have to learn new skills or complete outdoor activities like rafting and hiking in order to find the clues.

Each year has a different educational theme. Last year’s puzzles tested the Scouts’ cryptography skills, but this year the theme will be science and engineering. Knezek said biochemists, engineers and a “white hat” hacker who specializes in computer security will help design the clues. She wouldn’t give away any details about the storyline, saying it needs to be a surprise.

“It involves rescuing puppies, and they’ll have to use their chemistry knowledge (and) physics knowledge,” she said.

Some of the registration fees, which cost $280 for older girl Scouts and $150 for younger ones, will go to fund a trip to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston for the Mancos troops. Knezek said they usually go on a big trip once a year, and the girls chose NASA this year over several other options, including Disney World.

“They wanted to go to NASA instead because they heard they could have lunch with an astronaut,” she said.

Some of the other proceeds from the camp will fund Knezek’s troop community service project for the year, which is volunteering for Mancos FoodShare, the pantry that operates out of Mount Lookout Grange. The troops will be holding can drives for the pantry in Mancos and Cortez in the coming months, and Knezek said they plan to use some of the proceeds from camp to buy “whatever is lacking” after those drives.

In past years, an average of about 40 campers have attended each Camp Conundrum, but Knezek said she hopes to draw about 100 people this year. While she expects most of the campers to be from Colorado, she said girl Scouts from other states may also be accepted. Some scholarships are available to partially cover registration fees, but they are limited, according to the camp’s website. Campers must pay at least a deposit on the registration fee by May 1.

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