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Camps and Cash

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In another thread about a camp closing it was said:

"It's a dark day when money talks and the future experiences of many of our youth have to take a backseat"

I agree whole heartedly that it is sad to see a camp, that people love and have over the years worked on and for.

Money is a driving factor of our organization, money is a driving force of every non-profit organization.

We have in our Council a large parcel of land that was donated to the Council back in the 1960's. It is very primitive. No flush toilets, no showers. A couple of wells that go dry when Districts stage events or have Camporees. One large building and a smaller one for the camp masters.

Talk to Scouter's in our Council and they say that it is a great place!! But they never camp there.

Cub Scout packs refuse to use it because there is no running water. Installing city water would cost almost half a million dollars.

During the summer no one camps there, they are too busy. The rest of the year we are lucky to see two or three troops camping there. The SPL's who come to our R/T meetings state that they don't want to go there because in the past all the Camporees were there.

The camp is located in a remote spot, ideal for underage drinking parties which end in damage to the camp. The electricity bill for the camp is over $3,000 a year. I don't know how much is spent on maintenance and repairs.

I love the camp and think that it's a great place to do some "Real Scouting", however the numbers show that I must be in the minority.

At this time there is no real plan to sell it off, but some people are looking at it and I feel sure that the day will come.

When it does I will have to put my emotions aside and will vote to sell it.

We can use the money we get and we save to serve the Scouts a lot better with the money.


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"Buy land. It's the one thing they've stopped making." ~ Mark Twain


The money will eventually be spent and the properties will never be reacquired. At the end of the day, nothing will be left except for the memories. Selling off council property is a short sighted solution contrived by marginal businessmen and perfunctory bureaucrats with little regard for the intentions and desires of those who originally donated the property, the many volunteers who maintained the property over the years, and the future scouts that will never have the chance to enjoy a scout camp experience. It is a scourge on scouting that needs to be stopped whenever it rears its ugly head.


Blaming underutilization is the easy road. It is the Council's current leadership, as stewards of the land legacy passed to them, to implement sound plans, promotion and events to drive utilization if it is lacking. If they are not doing their jobs, then they are the ones that must go, not the camps.



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With the greatest respect in the world I am afraid that I must disagree.

Everywhere I look I see non-profit organizations selling off buildings and property that they can no longer afford to maintain.

I attend the Area Committee meetings and see how so many Councils are really suffering due to financial hardship. Councils that are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Cut backs have to be made and small under used and under developed camp sites are prime targets. It is a catch 22 situation, we don't have the money to develop them and if we don't develop them no one is going to use them.

We in our Council think we are doing well with our Summer Camp program. The camp is up and running for campers seven weeks a year, attracting about 1,500 campers a year. This year the cost of a week at camp is $170.00. Take away the cost of staffing the camp and feeding the campers, there isn't a lot left to play with. Being as the camp is up in the mountains we can't even get in to it from November till spring thaw. Still the 27 roofs need to be replaced every so many years. Still people are looking for more and more improvements, new buildings that will in time require more repairs and on going maintenance. The last new building ran thousands and thousands of dollars over budget.

The equipment used for camp: The tents, the canoes, even the buildings and other equipment is never depreciated, that cost is never passed on to the camper. Camp trucks seem to have a very short life span, the new big John Deere Tractor seems to spend half the summer undergoing costly repairs.$255,000 for a year just isn't enough - But we find a way of making it work because it is important and 1,500 Scouts benefit from it.

I don't have a crystal ball, so I have no way of knowing if maybe one day the Good Camp Fairy will donate the money needed to update our primitive camp? I do know that if she had $3-million on hand someone would try and talk her into building a new dining hall and kitchen at the summer camp site. If she doesn't come through with the money and we put the entire $170 from the 1,500 campers toward the new dining hall it will take a little over 11 years to pay for it -But by then there won't be any campers.

Some choices are not easy but they are made because they have the best interests of the majority at heart.

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I hear you Eamonn.


The BSA is a poorly-run business. That is true at the national and council levels. Costs continue to escalate, while revenues continue to decline due to decreasing membership and loss of large donor support. National lacks the vision (and resources) to implement new and exciting programs, effectively market the scouting image, and do what is necessary to secure a strong source of significant donors and increasing membership levels.


The current Council-structure is archaic, producing substantial waste throughout the system. Council staffs of 25+ folks managing a budget of only a couple million dollars makes absolutely no sense in today's world of high tech web-based communications, marketing, reporting and financial management. Replicating this inefficiency several hundred times over throughout the system results in exponentially poor financial performance. The whole business side of the house is screaming for consolidation of the Council structure into Regional Centers that offer 24/7 call center support for members, full on-line distribution channels for information and merchandise, and an overhead structure that makes far more sense. As the business aspect of scouting is transitioned to a more 'impersonal' (albeit more efficient, professional and less costly) structure, the program side would benefit from a greater percentage of available resources that could drive attractive program initiatives and property improvements that can actually fuel membership recruitment and retention, with the resultant increase in fees and ancillary revenues. The local support of units w/should continue to be carried on by the mass of dedicated volunteer scouters who have always been the bulwark of the program, and who can best provide the 'personal/high touch' service that unit leaders have come to expect and will need to grow their units.


Until such measures are taken, scout properties will continue to be put up for sale to finance a highly inefficient and archaic business model. Why not change the business model (just like practically every other successful business has done over the past ten years of the information age), rather than sell off appreciating hard assets to support a fiscally inefficient system.


Absent an unprecedented surge in new members, something will need to be done sooner or later. Selling camp properties does not fix the financial problems that council's face, it only provides temporary relief to prop up an organization with a highly inefficient cost-structure. Council execs will think they are geniuses when they deposit $5 million in the bank after selling off acreage. Ten years later the next Council exec will wonder whatever happened to that money and wish they had another camp to sell.






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My council owns 2 camps.


One of those is used for weekend activities, but no major council activity can be held there. It was used as a summer camp, but closed as a summer camp in the late 1960s. It is too small to ever develope into a major camp. However, it is maintained mostly through the labor and money of the small number of units that use the place. There is no ranger, just a volunteer caretaker. Still, things do have to be fixed. Yet the place does have some income come from it do to district day camps, and periodic logging.


The other camp is huge and has great potential. It could easily house several seperate camping facilities. It is used for most council camporrees, JLT/NYLT, woodbadge, OA events, and cub resident camp. It is poorly developed since it has had no new development since it was closed as a summer camp in the mid 1990s. Several maintanence issues are becoming critical. Fortunately, it will bring in a bit of income from some upcoming logging.


Our council summer camp is a very nice place. It is located on a major lake. We don't own it, we lease it. It is better developed and maintained due to its continued use as a summer camp. However, it would be better if the lease money had been able to be put into improvements or program. Also, while the camp is a good size and has some room to grow, it isn't big enough to accomodate completely new developments (like a full Cub World type facility). There is still potential for using the large lake for more programs, and also using it as a base for a nearby national recreation area.


Now we could sell off our other properties and pour everything into the leased property, but that doesn't sound very prodent.


We could dump the leased properties and move summer camp to the location closed in the 1990s. However program would suffer horibly and our only major older scout programs would be lost. Also, the BSA as an organization would lose, for all time, its only chance at one of the nations largest lakes.


I remember reading something put out by BSA's engineering service suggesting that councils should be working to find there permanent camps because it will only be a short number of years before suitable sites for a Scout camp are gone forever. In fact the same thing mentioned that in some areas it was already almost impossible to find new camping property.


Getting rid of property is, more often than not, selling out the future to pay for what you actually can't afford to use today. It is like morgaging your house to pay for a vacation you can't afford.


Are there times it makes since to sell property? Sure there are.


However, this should only be done after the most careful consideration of all the possible benefits of selling as well as all of the future draw backs.


We have to think long term, not short term.


We also have to think outside the box.


Could that giant camp in Eamonn's council be turned into a money maker without robbing the future? Maybe. They could always try to lease the land, or sell timber, or any number of other things. Perhaps it should be closed and kept for future use.


I will tell one story of a council selling a camp that worked out.


In Louisville they had an old camp that found itself in a major, fast developing area. This caused the value of the land to rise very quickly, and it also ment the camp was no longer out in a prestine wilderness. So they decided to look into new options. They were able to sell the old camp for enough money that they could buy a new camp, and pay for a good portion of the cost of developing the new facilities on the new camp. So they still had the same number of camps, they just moved to a new shinny one. (There is a bit more to that story, but that is the simple version).


If you are going to sell land, don't ever put the money in the operating fund.


Either put the money into your capitol fund or your endowment fund.


That way future generations can benefit from the sale.

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I kinda think that I ought to spin off, but what the heck I started this so I will stay with it.

OJ called his SM on Sunday to ask if he needed any help at a pack B&G. Both the pack and the troop share the same number and the same CO. It seems that the SPL was ill. I only heard one half of the conversation. What I heard went something like:

"How many are we getting?"

"But all them kids quit"

What followed was OJ naming the Lads that had crossed over not last year but the year before and he was right they had all quit the troop.

I happen to think that the program that is offered by the troop is not that good. Yet I don't see that National or the Council or the District can be blamed for this. I happen to think that the opportunity for age appropriate activities are there for the taking or at least there for the making.

Sad to say that year after year the high point for the members of the troop that OJ is in is a week chasing merit badges at the same place.

I do agree that we as an organization do need to take a long hard look at our marketing. I thought the Good Turn For America provided a wonderful opportunity for some great marketing, sad to say the only people who seem to know anything about it are our own members and even they are not that excited.

I have heard the rumors about Council consolidation, but never from people who are on the job at either the National or Regional level. Only from people who have heard it from someone. I have even heard people spout numbers. I do know for a fact that at present we have 13 Councils in our Area. Two are looking at a merger. Not because they are being forced by anyone outside but because they want to look at it. They were to vote last week. I have yet to hear what happened. Many of our Councils are tiny. I visit camps that are open four and five weeks a year and have less then a 100 Campers a week.

When Council mergers or consolidations is looked at the thing that everyone seems to get hot under the collar about is camp sites and OA Lodges.

We sit on the edge of a very large metro Council. At this time we seem to be doing OK. Membership is holding its own and finances are not bad. The metro council has its Summer Camp in our Council. The programs they offer seem to be offer more youth appeal than the programs that our Council offers. I think if I were the SM I would be taking the PLC along to look at what they are doing.

On the other side of us we have a Council that covers a very large mostly agricultural area. They are really having a very rough ride and are very close to only getting a provisional charter. Sure a couple of counties do look very appealing to us, but we would never want to merge with them because the area is just too large.

Before I could say that Council-structure is archaic, I think I would want to see a new plan. I am new to this this Area Committee work,in fact I have only about six months in!! However already I see the Council merger that might or might not have already happened. By the end of the year I see one Council just not there any more (They are over $400k in debt) and within five years I expect two others to either merge, get chopped up or just not be there. So out of the 13 Councils that were there we could lose 4. This of course is just my suspicion, it is nothing that you could take to the bank - who knows someone might die and leave the Council that is in the red tons of money and the guys working in the other Councils could turn things around.


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ProudEagle - "In Louisville they had an old camp that found itself in a major, fast developing area. This caused the value of the land to rise very quickly, and it also ment the camp was no longer out in a prestine wilderness. So they decided to look into new options. They were able to sell the old camp for enough money that they could buy a new camp, and pay for a good portion of the cost of developing the new facilities on the new camp."


I live near the aforementioned camp that was sold. In ways I miss the old place. But, whenever I see the facilities and the beauty of the new camp, I realize it was worth it. The old place was run down. In fact, our troop had started going out of council more than staying at home because of it.

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I've seen pics of McKee's new dining hall. It does look nice. I worked on staff there back in the 80s. I always loved the camp. I've never been to Manchester, but I grew up near there. LBL is an awesome place. Our troop is going out of council next year, and those are two of the top contenders.

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