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Exec Board cuts summer camp - Camp Black Mt, WA

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  • Exec Board cuts summer camp - Camp Black Mt, WA

    Annual losses were about $50K, Mount Baker Council gave the Friends of Black Mountion until Dec 31 to
    1. raise $60K to cover potential losses, FoBM raise $64,560
    2. Get at least 300 campers over 3 weeks, FoBM only got 251 by deadline. Fewer than 20 signed for first week.

    Just know what I read in article, but it seemed the Council focus was just on dollars and numbers and not the underlying camp summer program.

    I can't understand why we don't open scout summer camps to non-member boys sponsored by a troop or another scout. 4H and Y camps both allow and even recruit non-members to fill camp slots and hopefully join later.

    No summer camp this year, no camp next year?

    My $0.01 for being grumpy

  • #2
    "I can't understand why we don't open scout summer camps to non-member boys sponsored by a troop or another scout. 4H and Y camps both allow and even recruit non-members to fill camp slots and hopefully join later."

    The last two summers, I've had a couple of experiences that have me wondering the same thing --

    Daniel Webster Council, Griswold Scout Reservation -- they have 3 camps, two of which are Scout camps, and third is an Easter Seals camp. It is wholly-within the boundaries of Hidden Valley Scout camp. Easter Seals "campers" (co-ed, and it seemed like there was a 1:1 ratio of aides to campers) are fully integrated into the camp. They are in the dining hall, they are at the waterfront, etc.

    Then last year, we attended a camp in Quebec -- Tamaracouta Scout Reserve. The week we attended, their last I believe (although the staff told me there would be a few college and private groups coming in after us), I think there were only 3 Scout groups in attendance. Us, a mixed-age co-ed "Sea Scout group" (their system -- a "group" is like a pack, troop, crew, and rovers, all with a common committee) and a provisional Scout group.

    But the camp was full -- there was a group of about 50 Chinese teens in camp (a group called something like Kids To Kids), groups of Cub-age day campers, and (more or less) a group of day care attendees. There are also cabins that can accommodate family camping.

    Other than seeing (and hearing) the younger kids, there wasn't much interaction. You'd see them walking from place to place, but they were at program areas at a different time than Scouts were. It was actually very interesting how cleanly that all ran.

    But the absolute cutest thing I've ever seen: on a stroll from one program area to another, a group of 4-yr-olds, being led by a staff member, in singing "boom chicka-boom".

    It can work -- but the BSA would have to start thinking outside the box, do some research (hey, maybe Scouts Canada has figured out some things that we haven't yet!), and make some changes.

    Oh -- by the way. The DWC camps mentioned above. Looks like they are thinking outside the box. I noticed a change for this year. At their patrol-oriented camp (Camp Bell) and their advancement-oriented camp -- they've announced a program for second-year Webelos to attend camp. I find that very interesting. Our "feeder" pack's Webelos leader is already thinking it through. Get them out of the Cub Camp and into a real Scout camp.



    • #3
      The summer camp I attended as a youth was sold thru the same scheme.

      My parents gave money to the Friends of Camp ABC to save it. They met the Councils Financial goal, But the council still sold the camp.

      Same goes for Tinderman canoe base out of the Cleveland council.....But my understanding was that camp needed a new septic system......the council effectively killed it by not prompting it for a couple of years.

      while it is sad to see these camps close......It eliminates some of the Merit Badge camps many complain about.

      So what is wrong with the camp....The camp we attend has 200 the week we attend and has 800 or so for the summer. If the program and food is good they will come, just that simple.


      • #4
        National, if I remember correctly, has told all Councils that they need to be finanically stable. So, Councils are making the tough choices.


        • #5
          Mt. Baker is the council next door to mine. They seem to be having trouble and making poor decisions, not just about camps either. Don't know what the underlying cause is, perhaps financial pressure is getting to them.


          • #6
            My Council held a Summer Program for the first time in 15 years at our Local Camp last year. In My Day we had two on a Lake..We held 5 Weeks of Summer Camp..3 on the Lake and 2 at the River Camp...What Happened..we sold off the Lake Camp kept the River Camp and Never got around to improving it...Troops decided it was better to go long Distances to go to Camps with Facilities and Outdoor Activities..Summer Camp is no longer just about earning a few Merit Badges

            Boys want to go where the Fun is... Rappelling and Climbing Towers, Zip Lines...BMX Biking, Horse Back riding, ATV, Watercraft

            Look to the Summit as a perfect example of what Boys want..
            Youth want adventure not just Summer time lectures.

            There are monetary options as said if you open up to more the Just BSA. Look to the south of me and there is a Camp that Has all kinds of Options open to the Corporate Big Wigs...COPE Course, Cabins for retreats. They Make Bokoos of Money. Corporate Expenditures more than Make up for the BSA turnout...


            • #7
              This will probably make Camp Fire Mountain more crowded.


              • #8
                As a CBM Camp staff alumni. I have been givin the oppertunity to see some of the inner politics being kept from the public.

                1) First and formost, what is happening is less of matter of finacial stability, and more of an issue of inner politics. Our current council president has been quietly working to get the camp to this point since he took office. By systimaticly guiding the executive board to different dicisions to hurt the camp numbers. Over the last few months he has been quietly lobbying for the Council Board to make the desicion to close.

                2) The Friends of Black Mountain, the group that is working to find a stable plan for the camp future raised the 64K to meet the financial goal. By the end of year deadline, we had 251 kids signed up. in that very next week an additnal 20 kids were registered. A number of units where waiting to see what the future of the camp would be before regiestering there kids. Because it took 5 days after the deadline for the council to annouce any desicion and then another week or finalize it. a number of units showed interest in registering. We also had a donor offering up 50 scholorships for campers. and provisinals had yet to start registering.

                3) A large issue facing the camp is a council mindset that the summer camp season needs to pay every bill of the camp for the entire year. to everyone else in the council it seems very stupid to budget this way. when you account for ranger salaries and untilities bills, while factoring in that the council only offers 3 weeks of camp each summer, no way they camp can break even on that schedual with just the summer season. To make up that difference, you look to off season rentals. Filling up the weekends in the off season raises another issue because:

                4) There are members of the office staff who will turn away possible renters of the facility. Groups will call to reserve portions of the camp only to be told that the camp is booked through the end of whatever month they are calling. Yet when the weekend or month comes, the camp sits empty.

                5) There have been multipul instances where units would register for the summer at CBM, then in the months or weeks before camp starts, they would be called by the council office asking if they would like to change there reservation to fire mtn in stead.

                From september through Decemeber of last year there were a number of town hall meeting hosted by the council and the head of the study committee presented around the council. I had the opertunity attend a number of them. when the issues of the council turning away potential rentals and trying to move units from one camp to another, any professinal in the room would throw a particualy large temper tantrum and claim that office staff would never do that. But when you have different people at different meetings, who have never met, saying the exact same thing. you would think the council would see there is somthing going on.

                The closure of CBM is somthing that has been pushed for a while. especialy in this adminastration. there is a deadline for spring for a final disposition of the camp to be decided. this coincised with the rumored retirement of the Scout Executive and Council President. They are tyring to push this all through before they retire to make sure their succsesors dont go back and bring the camp back.


                • #9
                  The only wqy to fight this kind of thing is three fold. You have begun the first. Make folks aware of the politics. The second is to get ahold of the CORs, who are the "owners" of the council, they officially vote in or out the leadership. Get ahold of the corporate documents (public access thru the state) and make yourself knowledgeable. The third is to involve the press. There is a story here, and some local reporter is dieing to write it.

                  Google Owasippee in the Chicago Area Council for precedent. And on these pages( if they will work)

                  Follow the money. Who gets the credit for (on paper) making your Council "solvent"? Who retains their six figure salalry? Who would want to buy the camp? In what area? Into what would it become? Would the county zoning board like to hearabout this early on?

                  Once a camp is turned into McMansions, or condos or lake front resort , it will never see a hawk or owl hoot or the tramp of size 6 boots again....


                  • mozartbrau
                    mozartbrau commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I would add 4) Identify new Council leadership that has experience or knowledge in being able to turn around a financial mess. Without that all you have done is turn over the rock but forgot your can of Raid.

                • #10
                  It should be a job expectation for every Scout Executive to have an active summer camp program in the council that they manage. Failure to maintain a summer camp program means one of two things. Either the council staff is not doing its job or the concil has withered and should be merged with the closest successful council. In either case the SE becomes unemployed. That should provide some incentive to find a way to make the camps work.


                  • Kahuna
                    Kahuna commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Agreed. A no-brainer, not that it matters to lots of professionals.

                • #11
                  Yep national is pushing some standards that will close camps if they are not met. There is a 322 page document on the National Camp Accreditation Program page. Some have me scratching my head as a CSCD.

                  Yep the kids do NOT want Boy Scout Summer School, they want action and fun. Problem is that parents and leaders who do not know better are pushing for the summer school approach.

                  Now I admit, once upon a time I promoted summer camp as a good place to earn MBs b/c A) you had resources that may not be available to scouts, B) you have instructors who knew their stuff, and C) you are living Scouting for a week. 4-5 MBs is the most I'd recommend back in the day because you wanted the free time for swimming, boating, shooting sports, etc. You wanted night time activities for campwide games and troop programming.

                  Now I see a few camps that offer nothing but MBs. Some of which could easily be done at home like the Citizenships.


                  • #12
                    I fear we may be facing a similar situation in Catalina Council -- our primary summer camp has had little infrastructure added over the years, and was closed two years in a row (one due to fire danger, the second due to a water shortage). The council finally invested in additional water storage, but decided to cut in half the number of campers they'd accept for this coming year to less than 100 per week.

                    Thus, some troops (including ours) who have always gone to Lawton are now going out of council, due in part to
                    1) the uncertainty of camp closing yet again,
                    2) concerns over how good of a program can be put together with a smaller staff group
                    3) the lack of experience from a staff who for the most part have never worked together before

                    Essentially, summer camp just became a district camporee in terms of size. That's not what the experience is supposed to be about.

                    This year, it's camps closing.

                    Next year, look for councils consolidating, especially if the membership policy change causes larger than expected fallout...