Say goodbye to another Scouts Canada camp

[EDIT] I have been asked to clarify my statement about Camp Impeesa being sold.  I was actually asked to take this post down until someone from SC could say something but I don’t think they really wanted that… because it would be the first for me and would require me to respond with something that might not have the desired effect.  I will absolutely clarify my position, and apologize if I was wrong.  I don’t believe that I was “spreading rumors” as everyone seemed to know that Camp Impeesa was being sold but the actual sale is apparently not concluded.  I am unsure as to whether SC holds the position that it isn’t being sold, or that a document hasn’t been signed but I will absolutely profess that I DO NOT know.  I am quite confident  that the cheque has been written so there is clear intent but this post is about losing Camp Woods… and Tamaracouta Scout Reserve… and so many more that we still have time to save.

I found an hour tonight to talk… about scouts.  Hopefully the word-count is as small as the time I am spending to type it…

Scouts Canada has posted on the Quebec council, that Tamaracouta Scout Reserve (TSR) is remaining closed for now.  If you don’t know the story, you probably don’t care… and should probably not be reading anymore.  Seriously.

If you do know the story though, you probably have an opinion.  There are a lot of them out there.  Feel free to check out FB to waste some time.

In May (six months after the camp’s closure), SC released the following statement:

Friends in Scouting,

On behalf of the properties team I would like to provide a status update pertaining to the temporary closure of Tamaracouta Scout Reserve (TSR). As previously mentioned, before committing investments for the future of TSR, we plan to engage the services of a professional asset management firm to complete an overall review of Scouts Canada’s property portfolio and assist in the formulation of a viable strategic plan for our properties. This process is still ongoing and as a result TSR will continue to remain closed.
As previously committed to, our community – Scouters, parents, youth members and employees – will be engaged throughout this process to provide feedback on how we can create a sustainable, mission-aligned camp for youth to safely enjoy. This engagement will take place as required, throughout the process.
I want to thank you for your patience and understanding.

~Kalie McKenna (Director, Property Operations)

Before I go too far, a bunch of Group Commissioners from the Montreal area have written a letter to SC and in it they ask for some serious questions to be answered about the future of TSR after almost a year of hearing nothing from SC.  The thing I enjoyed most was the quote from the scouts.ca website

Ours (sp) camps are a precious resource, ours to cherish, discover and support.
~ scouts.ca website

Here is the letter if you are looking for it: TSR Open Letter from Group Commissioners

Right about now there are many people reaching for some popcorn because they think I am about to unload on SC for the way they are selling off properties all over.  Fiona is shaking her head and Tonille is wondering how much damage control she is going to need because I refuse to stop talking… or typing.

Rest assured, I love finding hills to die on.  Most are absolutely NOT worth dying on, but oh how I love a good battle.  Moreso when I am right because there is something deeply noble in my mind, about any battle to fight the dark side.  But clearly being right is no prerequisite for me and I change my mind more than my underwear.  You are welcome to try to change it here as well.  These are just my opinions based on my personal observations (clearly with no input from SC).  Bring me some information and I will consider changing my views on anything.

First off, I agree with anyone who thinks Tamaracouta is on its way to be sold.  As for all those people pissed at SC for selling off their camps, I agree with you that there are better solutions but I also see the business end  where 60,000 youth might not be able to sustain the number of facilities that we have across this country.  What I don’t understand is all the people who think SC should find a way to sustain these camps with the status quo or that they are trying to sneak one by us by selling them off slowly.  Actually I don’t disagree with the last one so much.  Errol nailed what they are doing perfectly (in my opinion).

My problem is not with the people who think SC is selling off the camps, but with the people who are acting so shocked.  I am from Alberta, where we have lost 3 huge camps in the past 5 years or so and are set to lose another one in the next couple years.  Gardiner was released a few years ago and Camp Poole and Camp Impeesa have both been sold to the LDS church (who will take much better care of them) (see edit at beginning)… which will leave us Camp Woods in the center of the province and one camp in the NE area (Camp Vanier).  Vanier doesn’t cost much to maintain, but is also 3 hours North of any significant population so won’t be seeing much growth.

I have a question for all the people losing their minds on Facebook…

How many times does someone at SC have to say “we are not a property management company” right before they close or sell a camp for people to understand.  Scouts Canada is NOT in the property management business and more importantly, they don’t want to be.  The problem is not that these properties don’t make money but that they lose so much.  You can blame this on the statistics that scouting membership has dropped as much or more than any other youth organization has in the past 40 years but the facts are much harder to hear than that.  Especially if you want to be angry at SC for their actions.

Facts are a meal best served to the open-minded

While you may have come here to read my opinions and laugh a little, if you have read many of the other posts I have written you will know that I enjoy a good laugh but those opinions often come with some facts or details or some common sense argument which explains why I think I am standing on some moral high ground.  Here is the only fact that matters from the numbers that I have seen or heard for our two other Alberta camps that have closed (not counting Gardner because it had more to do with costly repairs than anything)…

You don’t use the camps.

That was it.  That was the fact that you needed to hear.

When Camp Poole was sold to the LDS church something like 14% of groups within a 2 hour drive had booked it in the previous two years.  How the hell do you expect to have it stay open when you simply are NOT using it (“you” being the scouters who run youth sections across the region)?  More importantly, where do you get the audacity to bitch at the council after the sale was announced if you had never used it?  Apparently you should not have a care in the world whether the camp succeeds because you had no care when it was open.

I wish that I had numbers for Camp Impeesa but now that it belongs to the LDS church as well, those numbers aren’t the important ones we need to think about.

Even now, after SC and Northern Lights Council worked so hard to secure a scouting priority to the new LDS camp (which is getting even more amazing by the season), we treat that camp like we always did, we book it and cancel without notice, we book it and pay for it like some over-worked SC staffer in Calgary has time to chase us down for the $300.  More and more today, we simply don’t book it.  Scouting booking are dropping every year and we probably have only one more year to enjoy Camp Tanner.  While I am more convinced that the LDS church will agree to continue allowing large council events like Cuboree and Great Edmonton Scout Camp to continue, individual group bookings will likely no longer be available as of Christmas 2020.  We need to show value for this camp now, more than we did when we owned it or the new owners will simply look at the declining numbers as one more reason to stick with their default setting, which says that no outside organizations are allowed to book their properties.

No matter what your opinions are of my opinions, I stand by my opinion that by 2021, Camp Woods will be on the chopping block… unless we change the way we think and act.  TSR and several other larger regional properties from across the country will also be missing from our available options as well.  We can chat more about this if I ever publish my Canadian Jamboree post.

We might not be able to do this for TSR due to its closure, but it is time for us to grow up and treat Camp Woods, and all scouting properties, as well as the people who run them, with the respect we instill in our youth.  If we don’t, we should be questioning what we are teaching our youth because if there is one thing I have learned over the past 30 years of raising my own nine kidlets… it is that they see, hear, and learn, from everything we do… whether we want them to or not.

2 responses to “Say goodbye to another Scouts Canada camp

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