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Goodbye, Owasippe

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  • Goodbye, Owasippe

    The Chicago Area Council has tonight voted to see off the entire 4,700 acres of the Owasippe camp near Muskegon, MI. CAC has owned this camp since 1911, and it has provided thousands of boys with a wonderful camping experience in a truly beautiful setting.

    Unfortunately, the CAC has let dollar signs cloud their visions of what scouting is truly about. This pristine, tranquil paradise will now suffer the scars of development, and our scouts in the Chicago Area Council will have one less camping possibility. In fact, the CAC now owns absolutely no camping facilities.

    For the past several years, many parties have tried to preserve this scout reservation for the future of our scouting program. Unforunately, the CAC has turned a deaf ear to these proposals, and has only been concerned with achieving top dollar for this camp.

    It is truly a sad day to be a scout or a scouter in the Chicago area.

  • #2
    I am sorry your first post has to relay such sad news about a continuing and growing problem. While I have never been to Owasippe, I do join you in mourning the loss of scouting opportunities for future generations.

    On the bright side, our 2,000+ acre Council camp property was just this month placed in a land trust to forever protect it from development.


    • #3
      Staying outside of the council ramifications, if you'd like to see very similar pristine properties to Owassipe, there are several BSA camps in close proxmimity. Try Camp Gerber -- I believe this belongs to the council in Traverse City, MI. Or try Lost Lake, Lansing Michigan's council camp, or Paul Bunyan Scout Reservation -- which belongs to the Auburn, MI Camp on the other side of the state.

      None have flush toilettes in the campsites, but there are many beautiful places to camp in Michigan.

      This does not take away from the pain of your loss. However, I do hope you find alternatives.



      • #4
        Hi and Welcome.
        Like my dear Friend Unc. I feel for you. It does prove that we have to do everything we can to not allow other camps go the same way.
        We can do this by supporting our Council. Using the camping facilities that we have and doing what we can with financial support.


        • #5
          Being a staffer at Napowan(camp for another council in the Chicago area,) it is sad to see any camp closed. As was said by a camp staffer and good friend of mine "I've come to realize that Napowan (insert any name) really isn't a camp, it's a spirit, a minor tribute to all good things that can be looked back upon and relished...Napowan merely insists that you never forget its spirit, and what it did to you, how it molded you, how it connected you with both your own immortal soul, and the like-souls of the others there." Just a late night thought...(This message has been edited by bluegoose)


          • #6
            Thanks to all of you who have posted replies containing information on other great camps that are nearby. I'm sure we'll be taking advantage of those!


            • #7
              I too am very saddened by the closing. From what I understand this was the oldest camp in the country. We visited just to get a historical feel for what camp was like before we all had to get so comfy and soft. Our Council owns one of the other oldest camps around. Sure it's not all modern and it need some repair but it is one of the favorite camps on the boys list of places to go. It's a dark day when money talks and the future experiences of many of our youth have to take a backseat.


              • #8
                I'm sad for you, too. I'm in the Lansing, Michigan council (Chief Okemos Council), and I've never heard of Lost Lake. We usually go to the Northwoods Scout Reservation near Lupton, Michigan.



                • #9
                  This indeed is sad news. I'm from the Gerald R. Ford council whose camp, Camp Gerber is literally right around the corner from Owasippe. (I'm not sure if the property lines abut or not.) I fear the crystal clear nights may soon be drown out by the lights of development.


                  • #10
                    I fear dark days of development, traffic noise, and smog may be ahead.

                    I also fear not-so-dark nights filled with dusk-to-dawn lights and such are in store for us.

                    It may not be long before only the largest wilderness areas allow us to truelly get away from it all. Heck, even at Philmont you can use a cell phone in certain places. (ok, ok, that is a bit of stretch since Mt. Baldy is at 12,441 ft and has an unobstructed line of sight that goes on forever, but still it is true)


                    • #11
                      Although i am one of the people who will always say Treasure Island is the oldest camp, this news is terrible. All the great years of debate over who is really the oldest will be no more...


                      • #12
                        The saddest part of the Owasippi story is the manner in which it was sold. Actually it's not a done deal yet and some of us have not given up the fight. The Council Board of Directors has repeatedly ignored the opinions of the Chartering Organization Reps. The current executive board has failed to be approved three times. When the meeting to accept the sale proposal was set it was set in mid afternoon instead of evening which was traditional. Members of that board asked to be allowed to cast proxy votes because of work restrictions, they were denied. When the meeting convened and the board president realized the No votes out numbered the yes votes a conference call was established to allow extra yes votes to be cast. Today I found out that the Nomination committee meeting, to present a slate to the CORs on March 9th, was abruptly adjourned by the council president because the proposed slate removed most of the "yes" people. I always thought the board was composed of CORs or at least concerned scouters. I have found that seats are actually for sale. Some scouters who have taken action to organize efforts to stop the sale have been expelled from Scouting by the council board. One of those for allowing youth to voice their opposition to the sale. This was deemed a political statement and the long time scouter (40 years?), Owasippi staff member and father of 4 Eagle scouts was told he was to cease all contact with Boy Scouts in all forms. Region says it's a council matter and National just does not care. When I was a scout Chicago had 8 camps on the Owasippi reservation and 6 local camps. Today we have none. If the sale goes through as planned we will have the largest bank account of any council in the nation so I guess being number one is important to the current board. To bad the youth aren't .


                        • #13
                          Update. Finding no relief or help at the Regionalr National level a group of concerned volunteers have filed a court action to prevent the current Executive Board of the Chicago Area Council from taking control from the CORs. The Executive board, which was not approved by the COR membership has remained in power on a technicality for some 18 months. The board has revised the by-laws to allow them to re-elect themselves if the slate is voted down by the COR's. In my last post I said that the slate which the Nominating Committee proposed was voted out off order by the Executive Board president. At that time 40% of the COR's in the council signed a petition to have the slate brought up for a vote. The president refused to allow the petition to be presented by adjorning the meeting without a vote to adjorn. A new slate has been developed by the current board which, if voted down, can be retified per the by-law change and put into office against the wishes of the COR's. The law suit was presented to the court and a ruling preventing the vote has been given. Further motions and rulings are set for October 17,2005. The sale of the camps was the straw which broke the camel's back but the dissatisfaction of the COR's with the current administration has been an ongoing problem.


                          • #14

                            Keep up the fight! Why don't you get the Scouts involved? The Scouts can send letters to National and Region. I would even see if the press could get involved. I'm sure the Chicago Area Council does not want bad press.

                            Good Luck

                            Mark Maranto


                            • #15
                              I have to give a bit more perspective on the Owasippe matter.

                              The court action in Chicago is concerned about leadership of the Council at the Board level. The Council has had continuing problems for more than a decade. The fact that Learning For Life represents 70%+ of what the Council counts as "membership" is more an indication of the long-term problem in the opinion of many traditional Scouters. Are there other Councils where the traditional scouting programs represent 30% or less that what the Council reports as their membership?

                              The Owasippe sale is a seperate matter and something that has continuing difficulties because of the Council's residential rezoning request for the 7 1/2 square mile property. The summary of that issue is that there is no local interest in adding 3,000+ new residential homesites in the middle of a rural township. Unfortunately the Council has started court actions to cram their opinion down the throats of the local community.

                              There are a total of five different camp properties in the township, one being Owasippe. Camping, recreation and education on these properties is looked upon as the local industry and an economic base.

                              In essence the Chicago Council, after 95 years of camp ownership, is saying they don't care about local concerns....just do what we tell you to do so we can go home 225 miles away with the biggest wad of money.

                              Two entirely different matters involved here.