Preserving Wizard Ranch for Future Generations of Scouts – FAQs

The New Birth of Freedom Council is currently working with the Lancaster County Conservancy on a planned sale of Wizard Ranch to the Conservancy that would convey ownership of the property to the Conservancy but still preserve Wizard Ranch for use by future generations of Scouts and the general public.

Once transferred to the Conservancy, Wizard Ranch will be managed as part of the Conservancy’s network of public nature preserves along the lower Susquehanna River.  The Conservancy already owns, or has under contract, over 700 acres of forest and riparian buffer land in the area.  Its Hellam Hills Nature Preserve project is an incredible resource for many species of wildlife in the area and ensures that the open fields and woodlands at Wizard Ranch will be conserved forever, to be enjoyed by future Scouts and the general public.

To better explain the details of what is being proposed, we have prepared these Frequently Asked Questions.

What Are The General Terms Of The Proposed Agreement?

  • The New Birth of Freedom Council will sell to the Lancaster Conservancy all of what is known as Wizard Ranch for the sum of $7,000 per acre, subject to certain conditions and commitments for future use of the property by the Council.

What Are The Conservancy’s Plans For The Property?

  • The Conservancy plans to maintain the property in an undeveloped state. It will be made available for the general public for hiking, exploring and primitive camping.

What Is Being Preserved?

  • All 252 acres of Wizard Ranch currently owned by the BSA will be preserved in perpetuity, with the Conservancy preserving the usefulness of current camping and primary use areas that the Council will need in order to conduct Wizard Safaris. This will include retaining the pastures and open areas used for camping and program areas.
  • The two existing stone cabins, climbing spars, town facades and electric service used during Safaris will remain on the property.
  • The Conservancy will continue to have usable restroom facilities (either permanent or portable toilets) available.
  • The Wizard Ranch name will continue in some form in perpetuity, most likely as “Wizard Ranch at Hellam Hills.”

What About Future Wizard Safaris?

  • A “Future Use Agreement” between the Council and The Conservancy is currently being created. This agreement will be binding on any successors to the Council or The Conservancy.
  • The Conservancy is excited to host future Wizard Safaris on the property (to take place every four years in late September or early October) for as far into the future as the Council would like. The Conservancy will provide the Council with use of the property for the Safari, including prior to the Safari to prepare the site for the event.
  • The Council will be responsible for any improvements needed in order to conduct Safari events, such as applying gravel to roads, cutting of grass to desired height, maintaining the town facades, etc., and restoring the property after Safari.
  • Should inclement weather force a postponement of the Safari, the Council’s use of Wizard can be modified to accommodate this possible scenario by rescheduling for up to two weeks before or after the set date.
  • The number of types of activities and events traditionally available at Safaris would not be impacted. Future Safaris will continue to provide the same number of types of activities for Scouts of all ages, including the traditional fireworks display during the Saturday night show.

What About Non-Safari Use of Wizard by Scout Groups? 

  • The Conservancy will work to create opportunities for ongoing use of the property by the public, and the Council or Scouting units.
  • Pursuant to funder requirements it is the intent of the Conservancy to establish camping areas for ongoing use by individual Scouting groups and the public.
  • If the Council wishes to hold a small camporee or other event on the property (other than the Safari), as with the public any permitted camping will require a Reservation and a nominal fee may be charged and/or insurance required.
  • The Conservancy may limit camping to certain times of the year like spring, summer and fall seasons.

Will Other Groups and the General Public Be Able to Use Wizard?

  • Yes – other groups and the public will be able to camp and hike at Wizard Ranch.
  • The Conservancy is developing plans to move the current Mason-Dixon hiking trail off nearby roadways to travel through the Wizard Ranch property, with hikers being able to camp on the property.

 How Will the Council Use the Funds Generated from the Sale?

  • On April 2, the Council’s Executive Board approved the creation of a “Wizard Ranch Fund,” which will function much like a camp endowment fund, with annual distributions being used for capital improvements (such as major renovations and equipment purchases) at any Council-owned camp in the future.  The distribution model approved by the Board would initially generate nearly $80,000 per year to benefit our camps, with an eye to growing that amount over time as the invested value of the fund will hopefully increase. 

How Can I Find Out More or Ask Questions?

  • You may contact Ron Gardner, Scout Executive, at (717) 843-2042 or with questions or to discuss further.

Additional Information Is Available