Of the many services provided by the New Birth of Freedom Council to our members, most people would agree that our camps and the programs available at these facilities are among the most important things we do as a council.
We operate four properties that are used for camping (Camp Tuckahoe, Hidden Valley Scout Reservation, Wizard Ranch and Camp Conewago). Each of the properties has a unique identity and focus within the Council. Two of those – Tuckahoe and Hidden Valley, are used for summer camp programs.
As with any organization, we must periodically evaluate all of our resources, including the properties, to ensure that we are best able to support our mission. Not surprisingly, to be relevant to our membership’s needs, camps must evolve and that often requires substantial capital investments so that the facilities and programs offered meet those needs. We are currently at a point where significant facility upgrades are needed both to maintain what already exists and to meet the changing expectations of today’s youth and adult members. Since our resources are not unlimited, a strategic planning process is necessary to determine needs, priorities, direction and perhaps most importantly, a vision as to where our camping program should be.
A volunteer committee, to be co-chaired by board members Glen Grell and John Kotchish, has been formed and will be asked to develop recommended strategies to better serve our youth at our camping facilities. This committee includes volunteers from across the council and we anticipate that its work will take place over the next six months or so. It will then submit a report with recommendations to the Executive Board. We see this planning process as a potential game-changing opportunity to make impactful improvements to our properties through an upcoming capital campaign.
To assist the committee in its mission, the Council arranged for the BSA’s national office to provide an outside review and evaluation of all four of our camping properties to help us better understand our camps, especially in comparison to other nearby BSA camps, and receive recommendations for current and future capital needs at these facilities.
This review was led by John Stewart, Consulting Engineering – Outdoor Programs/Properties from the Boy Scout’s national office in Irving, Texas. Mr. Stewart was assisted by Sal Ciampo (a volunteer and Past President of the Theodore Roosevelt Council and current chairman of National’s Strategic Analysis and Camp Maintenance Task Force) and Charles Dobbins (Area Director for Area 6, Northeast Region).
The review team inspected all of the properties, analyzed the facilities, assessed strengths and weaknesses, and then compared all of that to the other camps in Area 6. They prepared a written report summarizing their findings and offering their recommendations. The report and recommendations were presented by all three members of the review team to our council’s Executive Board on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.
The team’s written report, as well as a broader Northeast Region Area 6 Camp Properties Study, are available for your review by selecting the links below. Please keep in mind these reports are an assessment of the camp properties, not a review of the quality of the programs offered at the camps. These reports will be helpful in the development of the council’s strategic plan for our camps.
The report’s findings and recommendations have been conveyed to the committee, which will carefully review them but is under no obligation to accept or implement anything in the report. At this point, no decisions have been made. Any final decisions as to the future of any of our properties will be made by our Executive Board. Its goal is to provide safe, outstanding and sustainable camping programs to as many Scouts as possible.
Many of us grew up in Scout camps and have fond memories and strong feelings about our camps. Please be assured that we do appreciate and respect the long and rich histories of each of our camps and we understand going into this work that any discussion about the future use of any camp will likely stir deep passions within many Scouters. As our study committee begins and conducts its work, Scouters should anticipate receiving more information via the council’s website and other communications. There will also be opportunities for in-person meetings with members of the study committee and requests for input from Scouters via surveys. Your insight is needed and your input will be valued as we consider an exhaustive range of possible options.
Yours in Scouting,
Dr. Kevin H. Mosser