Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada gets record gift of 70 acres

Updated December 18, 2018 - 5:18 pm

Receiving the largest donation in Girl Scouts history sure beats selling cookies.

The property of philanthropists Charles and Phyllis Frias in rural Lincoln County will be transformed into a camping haven for Girl Scouts in Southern Nevada and beyond, officials announced Tuesday at the Scouts’ Las Vegas offices at 2941 E. Harris Ave.

The Frias trust donated about 70 acres of land and property currently home to A Cowboy’s Dream Bed and Breakfast and Windmill Ridge Restaurant and Lodging, worth nearly $9 million, to the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada. It is thought to be the largest private donation in the history of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, CEO Kimberly Trueba said.

“Helping us to invest in our future female leaders is an investment in Nevada’s future,” Trueba said as she stood next to several girls wearing their Scout vests and bright grins.

No longer will Southern Nevada Scouts have to make the several-hour drive to a campsite in California, spokeswoman Linda Bridges said. Their soon-to-be campsite is about 90 minutes north of Las Vegas in Alamo.

‘A special place’

The campsite should benefit not only the more than 4,500 youth and adult members in Southern Nevada but also those in the Southwest and across the nation, Bridges said.

She said she cried when she visited the property for the first time last week.

“To be able to see it, to experience it, to know what our girls will experience, it truly is a special place,” Bridges said.

Exactly when Scouts will start using the property was unclear Tuesday. It’s still being determined how best to renovate the property to fit the needs of the groups that will visit, Bridges said. It’ll take time to turn the B&B into bunks for the girls and create a campsite atmosphere at the property, she said.

The timetable also depends on Girl Scouts’ efforts to seek additional funding from donors to help cover renovation costs, Bridges said.

But officials envision the land being used for horseback riding, water activities at a nearby lake, a high/low ropes course and various other outdoor and science, technology, engineering, arts and math activities.

One idea the Girl Scouts were considering is putting bunk beds in covered wagons at the base of a pioneer trail, which would work great for an astronomy program, attorney and trustee John Mowbray said.

In October 2017, local Girl Scouts abandoned the Foxtail Girl Scout Camp at Lee Canyon, which they had been using since 1953. The aging facility was surrounded by land protected to accommodate the endangered Mount Charleston blue butterfly, and the organization said it would’ve been costly to hire experts to navigate the red tape associated with the insect.

The Frias trust explored how best to use the land in a yearlong process and found the Girl Scouts as deserving as anybody, attorney and trustee Jack Hanifan said.

Attorneys with law firm Ballard Spahr helped arrange the deal, working pro bono, a release said.

“Local Girl Scouts would have to sell millions of boxes of Thin Mints to finance this dream,” said Maren Parry, a local real estate attorney who helped coordinate the donation. “This is a truly one-of-a-kind gift that made wishes come true on both sides of the transaction.”

Flip of a coin

The Friases flipped a coin in 1958 during a visit to Las Vegas to determine whether they would move there or remain in San Antonio. It landed on tails, and the couple put down roots in Las Vegas that year.

They went on to create the largest transportation company in Nevada, which now owns five taxicab firms, a limousine company and an airport shuttle service. Charles Frias died in October 2006, but Phyllis Frias continued the couple’s philanthropy until her death in October 2016.

Today, an elementary school near West Cactus Avenue and South Jones Boulevard in the southern valley bears their name.

Both Charles and Phyllis Frias had a soft spot in their heart for scouting, Mowbray said. He hopes the donation will allow girls to continue the Friases’ legacy of service to their community.

“It’ll propel them to the top of Girl Scouts nationally with these facilities,” Mowbray said.

A previous version of this article incorrectly characterized the history of the bed-and-breakfast on the property.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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