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To anyone who has ever camped at Treasure Island or is in the OA

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I just wanted to make everyone aware that the Cradle of Liberty Camping and Executive committees have "recommended" that Treasure Island Scout Reservation be closed effective October 1st. They have invited scouters to voice their opinions by emailing campinginfo@colbsa.org.


The official statement and an abstract of the report can be found here: http://www.colbsa.org/openrosters/ViewOrgPageLink.asp?LinkKey=2308&orgkey=541


For those that aren't aware, Treasure Island was established by the Philadelphia Council in 1913 and is the oldest operating scout camp in the United States. In 1915, the Order of the Arrow was founded by E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson.


If you have had any experiences with Treasure Island whether it be directly or indirectly, I ask you to please make your voice heard by emailing the Cradle of Liberty Council at campinginfo@colbsa.org



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While I really don't have an interest in Treasure Island Scout Reservation. I never have and more than lightly never will visit there.

I know that the youth from our Lodge thought going there and trying to save it was a big deal.


I'm not sure if we can always look at everything with a practical eye or put a price on everything?

I can and do see why a Council might not want to pour money into a site that maybe from their point of view is a liability.

I have visited the Tower of London.

The Tower really serves little or no real practical purpose. Still I'll bet if someone announced a plan to sell it, they might end up finding a use for it.

Having said that.

If someone asked me to donate money to save Treasure Island Scout Reservation, I don't think that I would.

It really doesn't mean all that much to me and I have other causes that I feel are more deserving of my hard earned cash.

Yes I am a member of the OA.

But I'd sooner donate locally and support the youth in my community than try and preserve a place I have never been.

Of course this is just me.

If enough people want to donate and can come up with a plan for saving and using the place I wish them all the best.


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You pointed out in your own post where the flaw in your analogy rests. "and folks who live in the area or have an interest in the history". The folks who live in the Cradle of Liberty Council (CoLC) are welcome to plead their case. My question was about PhillyScout urging people who do not live in the area, and who have never done anything to help strengthen the financial condition of the CoLC, to suddenly poke their noses into the Cradle of Liberty's business and expecting that their opinion should matter.


In the case you offer of the historic home, what usually happens is that either an outside group buys it and takes over the financial responsibilities that come with ownership, or the owner does what he or she wants with the property.


If people outside of the council corporation want to buy the property and maintain it for perpetuity as a campground, shrine, pet cemetery ...whatever...thats fine, they would then be the owners and what they wanted to do with the land is up to them.


But unless that new ownership happens, the property belongs to the council corporation and as a private concern they have the right to decide what to do with their own assets. While this land may be used by the scout units it is not owned by the scout units...it is owned by the council corporation.





(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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... or have an interest in the history.


BW - that's also key to my argument.


Of course, people who live in the area are not directly analogous to the Scouts and Scouters who support Cradle of Liberty. Just because I live next door to a 200-year-old house doesn't mean I have any more say in its disposition than the guy who actually owns the property. I haven't paid taxes on it or mowed the grass or fixed the plumbing. I *do,* however, have a vested interest in the neighborhood and the community - as do folks who may live in the next town over but research and document historic homes.


If every property owner (or council) followed the line of thinking that you suggest, there'd never be any common ground or compromises reached. No one would listen to each other, because the "I-can-do-whatever-I-want-with-my-property" argument would win out every time. The property owner is under no obligation to listen to anyone else. In fact, there are often compromises reached. I think the analogy holds up.


Preservation debates aside, I don't think anyone here is saying that Cradle of Liberty should be dictated to by people who aren't involved in their council. Rather, folks are simply arguing there is a greater purpose to be served by keeping Treasure Island open, and the council should consider that.


They're not looking to order COL around, but simply express their opinions - just as the council asked when it cast a wide net: "Scouters can e-mail campinginfo@colbsa.org to express their thoughts and opinions." Nothing there about it being limited to COL Scouters.


In the end, as you say, it will come down to money. If a group of OOC Scouters can pull enough money together to purchase TI, then I'm sure the council will be more than happy to sign the sale contract. With the flooding history and limited access, it doesn't exactly seem like a prime piece of real estate for anything other than a historic camp site or a nature preserve.

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If you would like to see someone do something different with their property then buy it, make it your property, and do what you want with it.


But you have no reason to expect to be able to tell other people what to do with their property. And you should have no resaon to expect that the owners want your opinion. The Councils legal obligation is to the finacial health of the council, not to preserving a "shrine" for people who do nothing to help support the finances of the council. Would you want your council to use the council funds to serve the scouts or preserve a shrine for people whoi do not even liven in your community.


Executive boarsd members have a legal obligation to make good business decisions on behalf of the corporation. If people outside the council want a shrine then they need to be the ones to get into the shrine business.


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A certain poster, not you, misses the point: Preservationists do intervene with private and public property owners, sometimes litigiously. They even win. In fact, there are legal tools out there to coerce landowners private and public into acts of preservation. That folks are simply asking COL Council to re-consider the historic significance issue before they sell Treasure Island.


Of course, if someone happens to think Council Executive Boards can do no wrong, then obviously the rest of the world is wrong.

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"But you have no reason to expect to be able to tell other people what to do with their property."


"This is 'Merica, Guinea Man."


I know that you took Civics in junior high so you should know that we have a Constitutionaly protected right to anyone whatever we think about anything. However, those we tell have a right to ignore us.

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While preservationists have been successful in stopping owners from altering a structure or force them to retain the archetectural style of a structure, or the natural resources of a property, I would challenge John in KC to provide evidence of a case where a a court action refused to let a private organiazation sell their own property.


If some folks want to try to force the new owner into a specifc land usage they could certainly try. But I would venture that even John cannot deny that the council has every right to sell their property.



Bottom line, this property is not owned by the local units or the local scouters, or even well intentioned or sentimental scouters anywhere. It is owned by a private corporation and it is their property to keep or sell as they choose.

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To Bob White...

I never said anything about anyone telling the council what to do with their assets or how to run their corporation. In fact, talk like that is contributing to the closure of camps. Everyone is too concerned about the bottom line anymore. Last time I checked, scouting wasnt about money or politics.


My original post was mainly meant to inform this community about the closure of the camp and to reach out to anyone who may have had experience with the camp. Even so, it doesn't matter what council you are in, we are all scouts. We are all a part of the same family. A voice is a voice, no matter who it comes from and the fact that they are asking for opinions prompted my original post.


To address the question about flooding, yes floods are a potential problem. However, Treasure Island has only experienced 3 major floods in its 95 year existence and had 50+ years between the first 2. Environmentalists have begun over the past two years to take steps to help prevent future floods. The storms that produced the floods are rare in this area and odds are that if the island does indeed flood again, it won't be for quite some time.



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And you should have no resaon to expect that the owners want your opinion.


But in this particular case, the owners do, as evidenced by the council's open call for comment on the Internet.


The COL report makes it clear that this hasn't been a secret among TI supporters in the council. Unami Lodge was involved from the start, since last October, and folks have been spreading the word and holding open discussions, including a "Support the Home Team" promotional campaign.


I'm sure they want to get feedback from more folks in the council. But they also seem very cognizant of TI's historic status in regards to the OA.





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"I'm sure they want to get feedback from more folks in the council."


Precisely my point, they want feedback from the members INSIDE the council. The people outside the Cradle of Liberty have their own Counil corporation and their own community Scouting program. They have no business interferring with another council's business.



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As I've noted in the past, Cradle of Liberty is my home council, so I do have a stake in this.


My son's troop was slated to go to TI for summer camp four summers ago (2004), when the first flood hit, and we ended up going to Ockanickon. Council rallied the troops, as it were, over the next year, raised money, and restored the camp in time to open for business the following summer (2005). Then the next flood hit, wiping out all that had been restored. Undaunted, Council repeated the process, raised even more money, and restored the camp again to open the following summer (2006). Unfortunately it's been a struggle ever since, as is detailed in the full camping committee report at http://www.doubleknot.com/openrosters/ShowPage.asp?36313734387L3837323831.


The figures in the report show that COL has lost $280,000 at TI in the last two years -- but what it doesn't show is how much money was spent in 2004-2006 to restore the camp not once but twice. I had a conversation with Bill Dwyer, COL's Executive Director, this past summer, and he told me how much money has gone into that restoration. Sorry not to recount the figure -- I don't have a head for remembering numbers -- but it was astounding.


Part of the reasoning in the camping committee's report is not just the fact that TI is losing money but what alternative is there if TI floods again? -- and the simple realization that pouring all that money into restoring TI has an economic effect on COL's other two camping properties, Musser Scout Reservation and Resica Falls Scout Reservation. How many councils today are operating that many scout properties anyway?


I note that COL has not said they intend to sell TI, nor that the camp will remain permanently closed. At this point, they have only determined that camp will not open in 2009, and they decided to make this decision in plenty of time so individual troops can plan accordingly.


Finally, here is the message sent out to Scouters by Chuck Eaton, COL Field Service Director, announcing the decision. I think it also is a telling statement:


News about Treasure Island


Last night the Council Executive Board ratified the recommendations of the Camping Committee and the executive committee to close Treasure Island for 2009. The evening featured a presentation from Mike Coyne our Camping Chairman along with a lengthy difficult conversation.


You can read the full camping committee report here.


The Executive Board did not come to this decision lightly. The Council has been working diligently to keep the camp open since the two consecutive floods of 2005 and 2006. The cost of the camp, sharp decline in attendance since the floods, and the increasing environmental restrictions forced the board to reluctantly ratify the recommendation 35 to 1.


The Camping Committee will host an ongoing committee to look at the long term future of Treasure Island. Scouters can e-mail campcmte@colbsa.org to express their thoughts and opinions. That committee will report back to the Board in the spring of 2009.


Scout Troops planning to attend summer camp at Treasure Island will clearly be hosted at Resica Falls, or may decide to camp elsewhere for the summer of 2009. Our troops will have first priority at Resica Falls, but we will NOT overcrowd Resica.


For information on the Council's quest to become self sufficient and a review of the August operating statement click here.




After the meeting is over, and everyone kicks the gravel in the parking lot some folks stay around to talk Scouting. Its an addiction. We love it. We all love it no matter what role we play Scoutmasters, Cub Masters, District Chairs, Board Members, merit badge counselors, parents, and staff. The meeting after the meeting is often about the real deal. Its about the things we could be doing better, the things we think someone else should be doing, the things that we never really get to do, the way Scouting used to be, or the way Scouting should be. In the past few years it has felt like everyday we get closer and closer to pulling together in the same direction. It is invigorating, and contagious.


Everyone knew we were experiencing difficult times, and everyone rose to the occasion.


I am personally sorry for this decision. I know how hard everyone has worked to make Scouting successful in our council. I would do anything in my power to avoid this day. I think of myself as a creative guy, I stayed awake night after night trying to come up with some type of creative solution. I am sorry that for my part I let you down.


Mike Coyne poured his heart and soul into this decision. The people involved with Mike on the camping committee are folks that have spent their lifetime volunteering. During this process there were times they didnt agree, but always kept their attention on how this council can and should best serve the Scouts of today and tomorrow. If I feel bad abut it, trust me they are sick about it.


The only way to stomach this day is to think about tomorrow. We are a great council, and this is a difficult decision, but it was unavoidable. It was, and is, the right decision. This decision will allow us to grow. Now each Scouter will make a personal decision


1. How they feel about this, and then

2. What they choose to do with their feelings.


It is my hope that we can put our attention on the Scouts of today and continue to lead and provide great Scouting for them. That is our only mission. Please read the work of the camping committee. Mark Chilutti, Steve Ranjo, Warren Marley, Chuck Tomlin, Dave Sirkin, Mike McGolderick and Mike Coyne camping committee full report


Yours in Service

Chuck Eaton



The simple fact is that the costs of camps, TI in particular, are not the only financial burden COL is carrying. Paying for two headquarters (the Firestone Center in Valley Forge and the Marks Center in Philadelphia) is also a huge financial drain. Face it, between restoring TI twice after two consecutive floods on top of the ongoing situation at the Marks Center has placed COL in a very tough place financially. What is not addressed in the camping report -- because it is an indirect effect and not properly the place of the camping committee to address it anyway -- is that the Marks Center situation is part of the reason for COL's difficulty in fundraising as well as having an indirect effect on Scouting membership within COL boundaries.


It's not an easy situation for anyone, and I recognize that the Council Executive Committee in voting 35-1 to close TI for the 2009 season was making a fiscally responsible decision, even though it is a tremendously wrenching one from an emotional standpoint. Nobody wants TI to close. But as stated in the full camping committee report in what I think are the key passages:


Our lack of a large dedicated funding base, inability to substantially increase attendance, looming large expenses, worsening logistic issues, ever-tightening regulations, potential floods and historically decreasing Scouting registration numbers force us to address whether it is responsible to open TI in the future.


Continuing operation means at best an average program that will use a disproportionate amount of our resources. This will place severe limits on the funding of our other properties, keeping them at that average status. The looming major problems, increasing expense and uncertainty of regulations and the uninsured status that exists due to location and weather patterns force the conclusion that continued operation is an irresponsible use of council funds and efforts.



I salute the camping committee and the executive committee for this difficult decision. The most helpful comments directed to them by email will not be the ones castigating them for making this decision but the ones that offer constructive suggestions for helping them find a way to reopen TI in a way that is fiscally sound and that will minimize losses and risk in the event of future flooding.

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Urban wilderness? It's already in the middle of nowhere. Maybe a suburban wilderness.


I'd say, get rid of the portapots too. Either make it a true wilderness experience by digging catholes or go with the seat over a big hole in the ground, when it's full move the seat and fill in the old hole.



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I am from the southern NJ council and we are going to TI this Friday. Out of council folks should be able to voice their opinion since we all use each other's facilities. There may be a trail to saving Treasure Island.


There may be people involved at Cradle of Liberty (Philadelphia) who are far more familiar with this designation than I.


National Historic Landmark Status


A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance. All NHLs are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Out of more than 80,000 U.S.-listed historic places, however, only about 2,430 are NHLs. It may include contributing properties that have buildings, structures, sites or objects, and it may include non-contributing properties.



NHLs are designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior because they are:


* Sites where events of national historical significance occurred;

* Places where prominent persons lived or worked;

* Icons of ideals that shaped the nation;

* Outstanding examples of design or construction;

* Places characterizing a way of life; or

* Archeological sites able to yield information.


Given the history of TI and the national impact of the Scouting Program and the Order of the Arrow on conservation, service, a way of life, America's first Scout Camp, et al, National Historic Landmark status (if applicable) would open the door to federal funding (maintenance) and relieve CoL council of a percentage of the financial burden.


CoL, please explore all options.



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