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Lefeber Northwoods (Wi) Camps (Baird And Neidhoefer) Closing

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Three Harbors Boy Scout Council of Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties decided to close LeFeber which consists of two scout camps on 1,140 acres in the midst of the Nicolet National Forest. and a Cub Scout camp, the Robert S. Lyle Scout Reservation located about 17 miles away in Elcho.


Citing a drop in the number of Scouts visiting the camp, a survey of parents who don't want their boys to travel so far from home and the rustic nature of the place that does not offer a dining hall for troops, the council plans to focus on two mostly Cub Scout camps in southern Wisconsin and close its two Boy Scout camps in the north. (Supposedly Lefeber was still making a profit while Lyle was not -RS)



"Some Scout leaders and others have started a campaign with the name Baden-Powell Northwoods Experience to either keep LeFeber and Lyle as council camps or to purchase them to continue running them as other camps. The group is working with a lawyer to help it become a nonprofit and started a Facebook page.


"Our group believes the camp is financially viable and self-sustaining as long as there's no mortgage," said Crystal Grayl, a counselor with Boy Scout Troop 580 in West Allis. "Even if the council decides to close it and not keep it a Boy Scout camp anymore we think it can be used by other groups."


Dave Loosen, Troop 580 Scout Master, worked for Three Harbors Council for 38 years before retiring four years ago on good terms. He sharply criticized the council's decision to close the two northern camps and said Boy Scout leaders who use the camp were not consulted.

"A year ago this was never on the table, it wasn't discussed at any meetings of leaders who use the camp. The first we heard about it was when the email went out," Loosen said.


Loosen said the email mentioned that roughly $1 million in improvements are needed to bring the camps up to operational readiness. "When I asked about that, it meant all four of the council's camps, not the two camps up here, which was misleading to say it was only the two northern camps," he said.


Katie Clark, director of development for Three Harbors Council, said the deferred maintenance needed for both northern Scout camps and the two southern mostly Cub Scout camps is $940,750 — of that total $310,750 is needed at LeFeber and Lyle. The cost to improve the northern camps to a premier facility, though, is estimated at almost $6.6 million. And with the number of people using LeFeber and Lyle dropping over the last few years, the council's executive board decided it wasn't worth it financially to invest in the camps.


"They felt that it would be financially improper to invest in underutilized properties, and that because of the trends, camp upgrades would in no way ensure an increase in the number of camper days ... to financially justify continued operations," Clark said in an email.


Less than 50% of troops in the Three Harbors Council have sent their Scouts to LeFeber and Lyle in the last two years. But Loosen said that three years before that, 60% of troops from the council visited the camps. When he asked the head of the council why Scout leaders were not consulted, he was told an outside study was done. :mad:


"It was an online survey of 300 people, parents and leaders. One of the things it said was that parents of Scouts didn't want their sons to go long distance. I have 38 young men up here this week, their parents want them up here. That was something made by Cub Scout parents, so it was a small portion of people taken out of context," Loosen said. :mad:


Clark said a task force was formed when the Boy Scout councils in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties consolidated in 2011 to study use of the camps. Volunteers were invited to join the task force, which decided after two years of study to recommend in January closing LeFeber and Lyle.


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So... 3H won't have a council camp, it seems.  Neither IMR nor ODKT are set up to be Boy Scout camps - they're Cub-focused.  Neither has legit archery, rifle, or shotgun facilities, and the dining hall at IMR seats maybe 200, tops.



I hope they're successful in buying-out the property and re-purposing it.

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Our troop just returned today from our 17th year at Lefeber.  It was a bitter sweet week, knowing it maybe our last.  There were a good amount of tears shed by both scouts and leaders at our troop's closing campfire last night.  Lefeber is the classic Boy Scout patrol method camp, in the middle of the north woods, which is becoming a dinosaur, especially in the midwest.  An outstanding camp director, terrific staff, and while the facilities are not 100% ultra modern, certainly more than adequate for a week of Summer Camp. 


The two southern camps are Cub Scout camps within 30 minutes or so of Milwaukee, one being directly on I-94, with the sound of traffic in your ears all day and night.  Certainly not the north woods. 


I hope and pray the campaign to purchase the property is successful.  We will be the first to sign up!



Edited by eagle90
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  • 1 month later...

I haven't kept up with what National expects a Council Camp to be?

Right now buying the land might seem like a wonderful idea.

I'm feel almost sure that there is a group that is doing everything they can to keep this camp open.

The really hard part is trying to look down the road and think what the future holds?

What happens 25 or 30 years from now?

Who is going to do the up-keep and maintain the camp?

Is the goal to raise enough money so that there will be funding in some sort of an endowment fund, that will pay for the insurances, electric and water bills?

What part if any will the Council play in this?


Not to change the subject but...

Many Councils will not accept donations of boats.

The people who want to donate them expect to use the donation as a tax deduction.

Many Chartering Partners want no part of boat ownership.

This means that there are a lot of Sea Scout Ships who try to get 501c3 tax status.

The paperwork and fees are horrendous!

The reason why most Councils will not accept the donation is that the cost of upkeep is high and what happens when there are not enough youth and adult members using the donation?

I tend to think that a small group of interested people who want to save a camp are asking for troubles, if not today, then in a few years time.


I'm thinking that this isn't what you might like to hear? And for that I'm sorry.


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  • 9 months later...



About 100 Boy Scout camps around the country will close over the next few years, due to new requirements. According to Jaron Tauschmann, a long-time Boy Scout, having to include executive budgets into camp budgets is overloading camps.  :mad:


So, even at the cost of $5 million, the BP Northwoods group says his camp is well worth their fundraising. They need $3 million to buy the camp and an additional $2 million will go toward supplies, fixing up the camp and an endowment for underprivileged children to attend.


Baden-Powell Northwoods Experiences


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  • 2 years later...

Detroit real estate investor Dennis Kefallinos has purchased a large former Boy Scouts of America campground in Lupton about 10 miles from the Huron National Forest.

It's not yet known what Kefallinos plans to do with the 630-acre property at 3552 Lakeshore Drive, about 20 minutes northeast of West Branch, Chris Mihailovich, one of his top lieutenants, told me.

"We are evaluating what's the best use of the property going forward, wish I had some more news," he said in a text message Monday night, adding that he did not know the purchase price.

We at least know it was listed for $1.9 million, or $3,016 per acre.

Staff in the Ogemaw County register of deeds office said a deed was filed April 27 for the April 23 sale of the Northwoods Scout Camp to Ivory Properties LLC, which is the 30-year-old LLC registered to Kefallinos at 1600 Clay St. in Detroit. That's the address of the Kefallinos-owned Russell Industrial Center off I-75.

The campground, which closed in 2016, had been owned by Chief Okemos Council No. 271, one of nine scout councils that in 2012 had merged to create the Michigan Crossroads Council, which oversees Boy Scout properties, personnel and programs for the Lower Peninsula.


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The BP Northwoods experience for Camp Lefeber ended after the summer of 2016... so it lasted 1 summer after the council shutdown the camp.  I am curious what happened... was there not enough campers due to lack of affiliation with BSA?  

In any case, given the drop in BSA numbers I’m not surprised to see camps close.  However, I’m not a fan of selling the land... you will never get it back.  If needed, close it and lease it to generate income (private/BSA combined camping, selective logging, farming, etc). Selling it gets you a 1 time large payment but you lose control of the land forever.   

In the case just sited... the developer doesn’t know what he paid or what he will do with the land???  Wow.

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