Jump to content

New Policies for Authorizing Councils to Run Camps in NE Region

Recommended Posts

In the other thread about Kittatinny Mountain Scout Reservation (KMSR)'s possible closure, the original poster referred to a letter from the council to the scouters that mentioned how the camp wasn't meeting many of the "15 Traits of a Successful Camp." A little digging back then on the NE Region website found a powerpoint presentation that included the traits:

Camp operates for 6 weeks or more w/900+ campers.

Camp income exceeds all year-round expenses.

Camp Ranger is full time, exempt, National Camp School Certified Council employee.

Camp has detailed maintenance plan that included scheduled major replacements (roof, etc.).

Complete operating statements (all income, year-round expenses and operating statistics included) is regularly reported.

Camp property 50 miles from other Council properties or is best of those in 50 mile radius.

Camp fees cover all year-round expenses.

Camp staff - 50% over 18 years with low turnover.

60%+ of Council Units camp in Council camps annually.

All Camp personnel requiring certifications have current training cards for the positions they hold.

The Camp is Nationally Accredited.

Council has a current Strategic Plan that includes current asset and property management plans.

Council system tracks year-round property use, Scout and non-Scout users.

Council budgets, accounts for and reports all depreciation regularly.

Council surveys campers, leaders and staff regularly to determine satisfaction levels.

Not too long ago a new link on the NE Region website appeared:



According to the cover letters to Scout Executives in that link, there is a new policy now in effect in the Northeast Region regarding how councils will be authorized to run camps. Here's the summary as I read it:


A) All councils in the NE Region are asked to review their camps and asset management practices according to the 15 Successful Traits, and to determine whether their camps are operating at a deficit -- that is, determine whether the council is subsidizing annual camp operations (not just summer camp time, but year round).


B) If there is no deficit, and the usual regional camp evaluation process (including the 15 Traits) goes well, then the council will be authorized to run the camp.


Otherwise, here is what the cover letter says:

If a Councils audited Statement of Operations reflects an operating deficit and the Council is subsidizing overall annual camping operations; and,

The Council operates with a unit-serving executive to total available youth population ratio of more than 16,000 youth per executive (approximately the 25th percentile compared to all Councils); then,

Area leadership may conditionally approve the Councils application to operate resident camp(s).

The cover letter also says a little later: If a Councils performance, as defined by the benchmarks shown above, is not achieved for two consecutive years, Area leadership is authorized to deny a council application to operate resident camp(s) until appropriate plans and improvements have been made.

Finally, in another part of the Final Report on the NE Region Website link above, it says that the NE Region will strongly recommend to National that these regional policies be considered for inclusion into National policies.


The total collection of information at the site link is very interesting reading. Some statistics cited:

There are 127 camps in the NE Region.

Since 2000 there has been a 9.7% decline in attendance at scout camps.

Combined, NE Region camps operate at 37% capacity (I wonder what accounting this involves).

NE Region councils own 190 properties combined, and of that total, 26% have conservation easements or donor restrictions or deed restrictions.

The report also discusses whether councils with closed camps should merge or share program resources with those whose camps are open. I've always thought camps should be closed only if they fail to meet clear and fair standards for some period of time. Looks like the standards are coming (in the NE Region at least for now). I just hope there's enough time for those standards and their implications to get out to scouters early enough so that we can be part of solutions to problems now at still-open camps instead of mourners later at the gates of closed camps and merged councils.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, they do have a capacity problem in da NE Region in some areas.


But I really, really dislike when they do this welfare-for-executives malarkey.


A council camp IMHO should run at a deficit, with a net subsidy from the council. That's why we solicit FOS monies, eh? To provide camping program to kids. No other reason, unless our FOS solicitation is really fraudulent.


So it just isn't kosher to then expect camps to run at a net surplus.


The bit about "The Council operates with a unit-serving executive to total available youth population ratio of more than 16,000 youth per executive" is even more transparent, eh? That's saying that they're going to harass a council which has made a decision that running a camp for the kids is more important than paying another executive.


If that isn't backward priorities I don't know what is.


NE does need to reduce its capacity, but this sorta move is the worst way to go about it. They'd best hope nobody in the media gets a hold of the "close the camp to pay another executive" bit. This stuff is why good folks are sometimes ashamed to put on uniforms with yellow tabs.




Link to post
Share on other sites

The point on the FOS money is well taken. At every FOS presentation I've been to it is always stated that this money helps the council's camp and that Scouts could not afford the full price of a week of summer camp without help from FOS. Now it seems the NE standards are that a camp needs to be self sufficient on fees alone. Maybe instead of FOS we should be raising money for FOC (Friends of Camp).


Many of our troops go to other council's camps but I've always advocated supporting our camp by attending it each year. I believe that if we don't support our camp we will loose it. Interesting is the fact that at the last camp meeting the council's camp director stated that the emphasis is to attract outside council troops to camp. I suggested that they make at least the same effort in attracting local units too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the FOS also. Council camps are a service to the troops, not a business venture or fundraiser for council.


I also couldn't agree more with you, Eagle732. Sure ooc troops provide diversity in a camp and an infinite expanse of potential "customers" but serving the units in your council should be emphasized. If your own troops don't want to go to your camp, what makes them think that ooc troops will want to?


A couple more issues I have:

Camp operates for 6 weeks or more w/900+ campers.

If the camp is providing a quality program to the kids that are at camp and are relatively full what do the total numbers matter?



Camp staff - 50% over 18 years with low turnover.

This is pretty difficult to do especially if they are pushing the financial side of camp so much. A 16 year old is gonna cost you between 500 and 1000 for the summer where an 18 year old doing the same job is going to cost about twice that much. Camps have to offer competitive salaries or they are going to have high turnover. Also, the average turnover for certain jobs is high. Aquatics directors turnover every 1.4 years and COPE directors about 2.3 years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If this policy goes national, our council will be without a camp. We are a small, but healthy council, operating in the black, with a solid balance sheet and stable membership numbers. The camp operates near capacity, but for only 4 weeks. I don't know for sure, but I am guessing with less than 900 participants. I'm sure we're over the 60% troop participation requirment, though. It is a high quality program.


The camp budget is also subsudized by the council. When I look at the FOS page on our council website, it specifically states that the donations are intended to reduce the cost of camp for the scouts. If I understand the requirement correctly, a camp must recover 100% of its expenses from camper fees in order to stay open. If this is the case, then most councils will need to modify their FOS presentations and be prepared for a large drop in donations.


I can't imagine a camp in any small, predominantly rural council meeting these requirments. Is that the real goal here - to force consolidation of smaller councils?(This message has been edited by the blancmange)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

FOS doesnt only go to camps, at least when I do my presentations I make it clear that it goes somewhat to camps, but also to the programs the Scouts get all year long. I am sorry, but if camp isnt filling each week and is operating as a loss to the council then it isnt doing its job. The camp I used to work at would have 700 kids a WEEK for damn near 8 weeks. If the camp isnt bringing kids in the management needs to take a long hard look at why.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Between FOS and camp fees, a camp should cover its own expenses. That includes, utilities, supplies, equipment, salary and benefits for the ranger, program supplies, staff salaries for the summer, and strategic building funds for the ten year plan.


But that's utopia and it usually doesn't happen that way.


It sounds like the NE Region wants councils to downsize properties, sell them, and consolidate camp attendance.


Bad idea, imo.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Beavah the reality is that most BSA camps do and have not met these so called requirements ever. Council camps provide a low cost alternative to Philmont, etc., and in this economy and in many poorer areas of the country this is the ONLY camp experience with a well planned program that most of these kids will ever experience.


I too believe that this is more a ploy on Nationals part to justify the sale of camps to bail out poorly run councils to meet the ever increasing salaries of the FD's, SE's, and Directors. In my council currently the trend is to take all the scout cabins, with their properties, that were built by volunteers years ago and placed in the councils name for SAFEKEEPING and sell them for desperately needed revenue because the SE and his staff have been running the council into a financial hole for years now. This kind of financial incompetence has been going on in the BSA nationally for a long time now with no system of accountability in place. It is time for we volunteers to demand from both council and National executives to be more transparent in the financial dealings of all councils and National and for us to be directly involved in the financial decision making processes affecting our councils.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...