February 4, 2022
Pine Tree Council is trying to sell Camp Bomazeen.
At the Pine Tree Council Annual Meeting, a leader from Kennebec Valley District presented the members of the Executive Board a packet of letters that he had collected in support of Camp Bomazeen. There were 29 letters, including his own. The letters came from current and former Scouts, leaders, and parents. The Executive Board appreciates his collecting the letters and bringing them to us.
All of the letters expressed their fondness for Camp Bomazeen and most of them talked about the great experiences that they had there. I appreciate their passion and I value their input. I could have written a similar letter. As a Scout, my troop would camp at Camp Bomazeen about once a year. It is a beautiful place where I have a lot of great memories. In the past, I actively worked to prevent the sale of Camp Bomazeen.
Good people who are trying to get to the best outcome can disagree on how to approach a situation. Unfortunately, the letters made it very clear that we are not all working from the same set of facts. It is important that we all understand what the facts are to understand why the Executive Board is making the choices that it is making.
Pine Tree Council, like all BSA Councils, must raise its annual budget every year. The recharter fees that people pay all go to National BSA. Fundraising comes, almost entirely, from three sources: Friends of Scouting and special events; product sales, mostly popcorn; and camp revenue. Traditionally, they are each about one-third of the budget. These days, it is difficult to be successful in all these areas, and if we do poorly at any one of these then the Council loses money.
Pine Tree Council has over $1 million in debt. This debt is the result of making some capital improvements to camps, including over $300,000 of improvements at Camp Bomazeen; and is the result of funding expenses to support operation of the camps during several years of poor camp performance. If we had had historically typical camp performance we would not be in debt. We have focused a lot of effort and talent around our summer camp program to improve camp performance.
The National BSA bankruptcy obligates Pine Tree Council to pay over $900,000 to the settlement.
For many years the National BSA has strongly recommended that local councils divest themselves of any properties beyond their main camp. National BSA is now saying that councils don’t necessarily need their own Scout camp.
The National BSA put more force into this position by not giving permission for long term (week-long) summer camp at Camp Bomazeen. Our understanding is that the National BSA will not give permission to have week-long summer Scout camp at Camp Bomazeen again.
The only activity that Pine Tree Council expects to be authorized to have at Camp Bomazeen will be Cub Day Camp, unit events, and district events.
It costs over $30,000 a year to maintain Camp Bomazeen. Unfortunately, the level of use Camp Bomazeen has seen is insufficient to pay for its maintenance.
Pine Tree Council is being sued by the Maine Attorney General and a group calling themselves the “Bomazeen Old Timers.” The Attorney General agrees that Pine Tree Council can sell Camp Bomazeen but believes that the proceeds should be held in trust to directly support camping activities for Scouts in the Pine Tree Council’s region, with a preference for Scouts from central Maine. The Bomazeen Old Timers take the position that Pine Tree Council cannot even sell Camp Bomazeen.
Even without debt and the National Settlement, Pine Tree Council cannot afford to maintain Camp Bomazeen because the events that are allowed to take place there do not pay for its annual expenses.
In selling Camp Bomazeen, Pine Tree Council could simply find the person who is willing to pay the largest amount for it and not try to preserve any use of Camp Bomazeen. Pine Tree Council has not done that, however, and has instead actively sought a buyer willing to allow us to continue Scouting activities that we are able to have there, like we did at Camp Nutter.
We had a purchase and sale agreement with one buyer who pulled out, partially because of some comments received from the public about the sale. Two more potential buyers who would have allowed continued Scouting use pulled out because people contacted them and convinced them that it wasn’t worthwhile. We now have a buyer who will allow continued Scouting use of a portion of Camp Bomazeen.
The bottom line is:
- We don’t have the option of returning to Camp Bomazeen operating a week-long overnight summer program. Unfortunately, that just cannot happen.
- We also can’t afford to maintain Camp Bomazeen to conduct the activities that we are allowed to have there.
- The best option for people in Kennebec Valley District to still have a part of Camp Bomazeen as a resource for the area is for us to sell it to a buyer who will allow continued Scouting use.