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Trying to save a BSA camp from sale? Be prepared! Part 3


camp owasippe lake Trying to save a BSA camp from sale? Be prepared! Part 3

Photo courtesy Owasippe Outdoor Education Center

This is the third in a three part series by editor Ken Jacobsen. Read Part 1. Read Part 2.

Best Way To Protect Camps is To Use Them
In fact the best ways to protect camps from possible sale by a council is to see they are well used by scouts and to establish a well funded endowment which the camp maintenance and operations can be well financially supported. Some BSA councils have sold the development rights of their lands through conservation easements and put that money into endowments for the camp’s maintenance and operations.

Conservation Easements
There is a lot of misinformation out there about conservation easements. Critics often say that with the sale of conservation easements, scouts can still utilize the property but will not be able to make any improvements to the property and that you better make sure there is enough land designated for program expansion or improvements. It protects the land from development but also limits its program potential.

Critics need to be educated that easements really vary in how they are written. With a conservation easement you can add “building envelopes” as long as they do not disrupt the conservation values of the property, and you don’t have to include the entire property in the conservation easement and conservation easements are flexible to meet the needs of the landowner: hence improvements, etc.

If the money raised from a conservation easement is put into an endowment, it can help maintain the camp. If the camp is still closed or sold, then conservation values of the area are still preserved through the easement.

Some Good Advice
As I wrote earlier, the potential sale of these BSA council camps and other youth camps are being driven for financial reasons. Most BSA Council leaders will tell you they don’t want to sell the camps, but feel they have to for the good of the council and the boys. If you want to save a camp that has been slated for sale to developers, you’ll have to convince them that it is in their best interests not to sell the camp. 

For those trying to save camps from sale, Ron Derby who is involved in the effort to Save Owasippe, one of America’s Oldest Scout Camps located in Michigan, from sale has the following advice:

  • fight it every step of the way
  • keep everything above board and transparent
  • try to always let the Scout oath and law guide your actions (this can be very tough at times)
  • get ready for what could be a VERY long and exhausting struggle… we are several years into it and no real resolution yet
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