Girl Scouts Camp Prairie Schooner

Architect: el dorado inc.

Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Category Two: Up to $1,500,000 in construction cost

Exemplifying their own mission, the Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri and el dorado inc. set out to create a signature facility that would compliment their mission by focusing on STEM learning.

Camp Prairie Schooner sits high on the bluffs of the Little Blue River, about 15 miles southeast of downtown Kansas City. With 176 wooded acres, the camp feels like wilderness in a metropolitan area. Camp Prairie Schooner features a dining hall, five permanent units, two buildings for troop use, a 40-foot rappel tower, an archery range, a swimming pool and a zipline. The wooded site has creeks, hills, and a nature trail that circles the property.

"I really appreciate how this Girl Scouts Camp project reinvents the simple shed with small moves to create a big impact." ~ Jury comment

The Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri hired the architect to design a new trail center that functions as a troop bunkhouse, a modern restroom, and a shower facility. The trail center also includes flex rooms and kitchens that allow year-round use for up to 40 campers. Our approach identified the assets of the camp, and then leveraged those assets to build on the programmatic expectations of the project. This was achieved by locating the trail center adjacent to an existing dining hall that already served as the camp center. The new 7,200 square-foot buildings were positioned to provide a continuous drop off zone along the northern face that directs the girls toward a courtyard space, which serves both the dining hall and the trail center entries, and incorporate “council rings” that provide social and program opportunities for the entire camp. The buildings’ proximity to the road also serves as a way-finding mechanism by way of custom exterior lighting solutions that act as a lantern for girls walking about camp during the evening.

"The project is both durable and delightful. It’s smart about light, color, scale and materiality." ~ Jury comment

The load bearing walls of the structures are constructed of 2 in. x 6 in. wood studs, that in turn support a series of common and scissor trusses. The envelope is clad with corrugated metal panels, complimenting the wood aluminum clad windows and skylights. The end of the bunk houses are a combination of fluted polycarbonate glazing and painted concrete board over a rain screen system. All mechanical systems are concealed within the trusses. The pendant lights are custom fixtures designed and built by a former girl scout.

Additional information

Contractor: Haren Laughlin Construction

Civil and Structural Engineer: Wallace Engineering

MEP Engineer: PKMR

Code Consultant: Code Consulting Services

Landscape Architect: Confluence


2016 Small Projects Awards Jury

Marika Snider, AIA (Chair), Snider Architecture, Beavercreek, Ohio

Will Bruder, FAIA, Will Bruder Architects, Phoenix

Mira Locher, FAIA, Kajika Architecture PLLC, Salt Lake City

Elizabeth Ranieri, FAIA, Kuth Ranieri, San Francisco

Jonathan Tate, Office Jonathan Tate, New Orleans

Image credits

Camp Prairie Schooner 1

Mike Sinclair

Camp Prairie Schooner 2

Mike Sinclair

Camp Prairie Schooner 3

Mike Sinclair