Many Scout Camps and other Camps are in Trouble
Camps across our nation are threatened with being sold for development. The time to save camps is now.
Children Need Camps
The average American child spends 44.5 hours per week, more than 6 hours a day, plugged into electronic media, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In author Richard Louv’s best selling book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, studies show connecting children with nature leads to lower levels of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), anxiety and depression. Nature increases critical curiosity and creativity skills leading to more children taking science and math classes and becoming more successful adults.
Note: Parts in the six paragraphs below from the American Camp Association’s (ACA) “Pillars of Hope“.
Intimacy With Nature
The Nature Conservancy states we have grim confirmation that our youth spend less time outdoors. The camp experience is the best way to address nature deficit disorder.
Exposure to nature allows children to develop appropriate attachments to places and spaces that help them better understand and become successful in their homes, neighborhoods, communities, and world.
Authentic Human Connections
The camp experience helps kids make friends and builds healthy relationships. The Search Institute tells us that 48 percent of younger children don’t have a caring adult in their home or in school.
When youth leave camp, they take with them newly formed relationships and interpersonal experiences that influence them for a lifetime. ACA research demonstrates that youth, staff, and parents believe the camp experience contributes to positive growth in relationship-oriented outcomes such as friendship skills, peer relationships, social comfort, leadership, values, and decision-making.
Human Powered Activities
The camp experience gets children up and moving with confidence. A study by Indiana University and Ohio State researchers found that children gain more weight over the summer than during the school year. A child’s summer camp experience can provide the structure and activity needed to keep kids healthy year-round.
Many schools today are eliminating recess and field trips. Camps promote life habits that support wellness, while society continues to move childhood indoors.
Preserving Water Quality, Natural Areas and Wildlife
Protecting and preserving camps protects water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and preserves natural areas and wildlife and future generations of children.
Camp Lands Donated
Some camp lands were donated by generous landowners to be used as camps for kids, not to be sold to raise funds.
A Growing Population
Between 2003 and 2025, the United States is expected to grow by almost 58 million people-a Census Bureau forecast that roughly continues the average 2.75 million to 3 million-plus a year increase since 1980.
We need additional camps because our nation’s population is growing each year. We should be adding camps, not selling them, as more and more children need access to camps and nature as our nation grows.
A blanced approach would have camp investment keep pace with our population. This would provide all Americans with a culture of conservation.
Camps Can Be Saved
Selling camps is preventable. It is possible to save camps, as they are doing at Camp Owasippe and other camps.
A diverse staff and council/board, complete with people with a “can do” attitude and strong backgrounds in business, fundraising, sales, marketing (including Web and Web 2.0) PR (public relations) and entrepreneurship, as they have at the Owassipe Outdoor Education Center, is critical to the success and sustainability of camps.
Maximizing outreach to individuals online and offline and having staff in place experienced in doing this, rather than relying on uncertain grants and foundation funding, is one key to building a sustainable organization.
Camps are Irreplaceable
Large acreage tracts of lands that make up many of these camps are simply irreplaceable. These organizations will rarely, if ever, and most likely never, have the large amount of funds required to purchase lands like these again.
As land gets subdivided as our nation grows, large tracts of land will simply not be available anymore, especially near suburban and urban areas.
Selling Camps Should Not be an Option
Selling camps should not be an option. There are hundreds of innovative, cost-effective fundraising and marketing ideas that should be implemented on a consistent basis.
In the extremely rare case that a camp needs to be sold, after all other fundraising and marketing methods have been exhausted, it should first be protected with a conservation easement.
Threats to Camp Lands