Re: Selling Camp Properties
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM)
Mon, 28 Oct 1996 19:31:43 -0500
At 02:02 PM 10/28/96 +0000, Jim Miller Sr. wrote:
>1. There is no conspiracy, or if there is no one has asked me to join it.
Agreed, although I remember, some time back, hearing some comments made
about national, or region, preferring to have larger "regional" camps which
would be used by the Scouts from several councils so that much of the land
currently owned could be sold. This might just have been some sort of urban
myth, coming from the urban that held the land - the same urban that would
probably have become your council's "regional" camp if the policy had taken
>2. In SOME cases, selling camp properties may make sense.
>After a merger, for example, a council can be saddled with
>excessive camp capacity and without the funds to support it.
This is absolutely true. I am generally opposed to selling camp properties
because they can never be recovered, but I am pragmatic enough to understand
that it is real difficult to finance the holding of under utilized
properties. Also, many councils are too small to operate a summer camp
program for most of the summer and so they run for four weeks. That makes
it very difficult to hire staff, etc. It would be much more efficient to
join forces with another similarly situated council and to run one GOOD camp
for the whole summer, rather than two SO SO camps for part of the summer.
This could lead to selling one of the camps. This has also, fortunately,
been one of the consequences of (and maybe even one of the reasons for) many
of the recent mergers.
However, I also believe that providing the opportunity for Scouts to have a
quality summer camp experience is, or should be, one of the principal
purposes for the existence of the council. Therefore, I am almost
unalterably opposed to those councils who close down (whether the camp is
sold or not) their ONLY summer camp program. So, while I had only minor
problems with Long River Councils (now Connecticut River Councils) closing
down Lake of Isles (even though it was where WE camped) because they had two
other summer camps still in operation, I had major problems when Nassau
County Council stopped running a summer camp operation at Onteora, or when
Dutchess County Council (now part of Hudson Valley Council) shut down their
only summer camp operation at Nooteeming, or when Fairfield County Council
shut down their only operation at Pomperaug, etc. (You can tell I'm in the
NYC area from the councils involved in these decisions.)
The only time I can see this type of thing is when the council has made
other definitive arrangements for their Scouts to have a summer camp
experience by joining with a neighboring council to make more efficient use
of a property, etc. Otherwise, if the council just tells its troops to go
find another camp I believe they are abdicating a significant part of their
responsibility as a council. But on to Jim's thoughts.
>Why don't we create a land preservation trust
>(like the Nature Conservancy) 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 the land for camping in
>perpetuity but give up the right to sell it or to develop
>it for commercial or residential use. It would be a kind
>of private national parks system. The money we realize
>for the sale of these rights could be used to deliver better
>program to kids.
This is a great idea, but not original. And, I'm not even sure we would
have to create the groups to purchase the land. In many places those groups
already exist, including the Nature Conservancy itself. There was, I
believe, just such a sale in a council nearby to you. I believe that
Westchester-Putnam Council sold the developmental rights to their Clear Lake
Scout Camp in Putnam County (or maybe its Dutchess County) to just such an
environmental group. They got the money they needed without actually having
to turn over either of their camps. (Both Clear Lake and Siwanoy were, as I
understand it, on the block with the plan being to sell whichever one would
yield the best deal.) Thus, the sale of the development rights at Clear
Lake preserved, for the time being, both access to Clear Lake AND the
ownership of Siwanoy.
>Well that's my pitch. What am I looking for? I need
>comments, criticism, discussion. I need to find people
>in organizations that can help make the idea work.
>Maybe Wall Street types to create a "bond" to raise
>the funds. Maybe people with contacts in the Nature
>Conservancy. Maybe YOU!
I think that it shouldn't be hard to find the organizations that exist
already. If you contact an organization such as the Conservancy and express
an interest in consummating this type of transactions they could probably
put you in touch with the similar organizations in the camp's area which
might be interested in purchasing.
Its a great idea and I would hope that it would catch on nationally to
preserve both the wilds and the access of the Scouts to their camps.
Bruce E. Cobern
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City