Jim Miller Sr. (JJMSR@AOL.COM)
Fri, 31 Mar 1995 16:22:19 -0500
There has been some discussion in the past revolving around the sale of c=
properties by both Boy Scout and Girl Scout Councils in the USA. Most of=
has been along the lines of =93Save Camp Cookiemonger=94 or revolves arou=
conspiracy theory that either =93national=94 or that =93*#$@%!=94 council=
is/are sitting up nights figuring out ways to get the money out of the
property for their own dire purposes. As a BSA council officer, I have b=
through one camp sale, and now as council president I am constantly
confronted with people on one side of the issue or the other. For this
reason, and because I respect the collective wisdom I have seen in this f=
I would like to open a dialogue on the positives and negatives of sellin=
camps, and I would like to propose an idea to save camps (where appropria=
for discussion and debate.
DISCLAIMER: All comments are my own and do not reflect the views of my
council, BSA, or anyone else in the world as far as I know.
1. There is no conspiracy, or if there is no one has asked me to join it.=
2. In SOME cases, selling camp properties may make sense. After a merge=
for example, a council can be saddled with excessive camp capacity and
without the funds to support it. The camp we sold was severely underutil=
primarily because we didn=92t have the money to keep it up. It needed a =
road, new buildings, etc., and no one was stepping up to the plate to pro=
those funds. Yes, we tried the Army Corps of Engineers and all other ave=
to no avail. The question finally became =93is it better to have two lou=
camps, or put all our efforts and resources into one decent camp?=94 We
obviously concluded the latter. With all good intentions, we then placed=
$1,000,000+ (yes, that=92s 6 zeros) in =93trust=94 so that we could =93li=
ve off the
income.=94 Well, we=92re down to $250,000 and still eating away at the
principle. I wish there were some way to stop it but the bills keep comi=
and they have to be paid.
3. In SOME cases, selling camp properties really doesn=92t make sense. =
council currently has two camps. Once again we merged and wound up with =
property. We really can use both since one is about a 90 minute drive aw=
and makes an excellent long term scout camp (90 minutes from New York are=
isn=92t that far). The other is 30 or 40 minutes away and makes an excel=
cub facility and weekend camp. Both camps are =93full=94 all year. That=
book all the available buildings all winter long, but in reality they hav=
far greater capacity if we had more buildings. The only problem is where=
we get the manpower and the money to keep up both properties?
In our case, real estate taxes alone (yes, in many states boy scout counc=
must pay real estate taxes on camps) amount to over $20,000 per year. In=
addition, we must have a caretaker/ranger at each camp; must pay insuranc=
year round on both camps; must keep utilities going all year at both camp=
and must perform maintenance (constantly) on both camps. In addition sta=
salaries (without attributing salary for professionals who work at camp) =
to over $20,000 a year and get higher every time there=92s a rule change =
requires another person over 21 on staff.
How many work weekends can you run? We=92re already told that the volunt=
(including myself) are involved in too many things and that our council l=
activities cut into the unit programs. Property requires constant attent=
ask any landlord.
OK. So much for the trials and tribulations of a council president. Now=
the idea part.
As I understand it, BSA is the second largest owner of undeveloped land i=
the United States of America following the US Parks Service. Add GSUSA
properties to that and it=92s a lot of =93wilderness=94 or open space. W=
benefiting the public at large by keeping these lands undeveloped but WE =
footing the bill.
Why don=92t we create a land preservation trust (like the Nature Conserva=
and sell the development rights to our land to people who may not be
interested in scouting but who may be interested in preserving open space=
The trust could be written in such a way that WE retain the right to use=
land for camping in perpetuity but give up the right to sell it or to dev=
it for commercial or residential use. It would be a kind of private nati=
parks system. The money we realize for the sale of these rights could be=
used to deliver better program to kids.
There are similar government programs (in New Jersey it=92s called the Gr=
Acres program) but funds for these are drying up. This would be in essen=
=93privatization=94 of those programs (How=92m I doin=92 Newt?) It is in=
interest to keep our camps =93natural.=94 But that doesn=92t necessarily=
the government has to do it. We need to find a body of people who see th=
value of preservation and have THEM put up the money for it. They=92re o=
there, I just know it.
Well that=92s my pitch. What am I looking for? I need comments, critici=
discussion. I need to find people in organizations that can help make th=
idea work. Maybe Wall Street types to create a =93bond=94 to raise the f=
Maybe people with contacts in the Nature Conservancy. Maybe YOU!
Jim Miller Sr
Council President - Hudson Liberty Council BSA
Tiger Cub Group Coach - Pack 305 Kearny, NJ
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City