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Saratoga County Cub Scout Camp To Be Sold

The emblem of the Boy Scouts of America

A scout camp in Saratoga County that has operated for nearly a century and served generations of boys will be sold. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports.

Word came this week that Camp Boyhaven, a Cub day and resident camp in Middle Grove that opened in 1924, would be sold by its owner, Twin Rivers Council.

Council Executive Richard Stockton said the decision was made after a careful consideration of all the camps held by the council.

That includes Boyhaven; two boy scout resident camps, Camp Wakpominee in Fort Ann and Rotary Scout Reservation in Poestenkill; and Camp Bedford, used for weekend camping in Malone.

Stockton said all together, the camps are too expensive to continue operation.

“I’ve got currently four dining halls, I’ve got four health lodges, I’ve got four of absolutely everything,” said Stockton. “And when you’re dividing up, trying to fix 75-year-old infrastructure, we just don’t have enough money to go around.”

Though scout camps often rely on donors and volunteers for work, upcoming projects like septic systems and water systems require a higher level of expertise – and price tag.

“Boyhaven is the one that we decided that it would be the least devastating to the overall program to let go,” said Stockton.

Last summer, the week-long resident camping for Cub Scouts was moved up the Northway to Camp Wakpominee. Wakpominee has seen its Boy Scout resident camp shrink from a six-week season to five. Cub day camp and a weeklong youth leadership training camp are also now held at Wakpominee, across the street from the main camp.

Stockton said he was confident the council would create an “equal if not better experience” for the scouts who attended Boyhaven at Wakpominee. He said the money from the sale of the camp would go directly into program at Rotary and Wakpominee.

But the news is no less heartbreaking for the individuals who attended the camps as boys, found jobs as teens, and worked volunteer hours as adults.

Drew Chesney began working at Boyhaven in 2000, including eight years as camp director, and most recently was properties chairman. He now serves as Vice President of Program for Twin Rivers Council. He called the decision to close the camp frustrating, discouraging, and upsetting.

“I’ve called that place home for 18 years now. I’ve done a lot of work up there, spent a lot of hours, made a lot of friends, and worked with a lot of great people. It truly is upsetting to me,” said Chesney. “But at the same time, to be objective about what we have in front of us is something we need to do too.”

Chesney said that over the past several years the group of volunteers at the camp dwindled from between 10 or 15 down to five or six. Chesney said on work weekends there would be more volunteers from local high schools seeking community service hours than scouts or adults with a direct connection to the camp. Scouting participation has been on a downward trajectory nationally.

The council itself, stretching from the Capital Region to the Canadian border, is made up of several smaller councils that have combined and consolidated over the years.

Boyhaven, historically used as a Boy Scout resident camp, once belonged to the former Schenectady County Council. In 1991, Twin Rivers absorbed Schenectady and Boyhaven then began use primarily as a Cub camp.

It’s safe to say that what’s happening now is nothing new.

Joseph Berlant, Twin Rivers Council’s unofficial historian, was a delegate from the former Mohican Council in the 1970s, taking part in a region-wide group called the Association of Adirondack Scout Camps.

“The reason the Association was started was to be able to look at scout camps because we knew they were becoming more expensive to be able to operate and they weren’t directly serving the needs of all of the scouts.”

At the time, Berlant says young people were travelling to camps outside their district that offered better programs. The group knew that cuts had to be made to keep local scouting relevant.

Evidently, the same idea is happening with Twin Rivers Council today.

“Again, this is not a new process. And it is a difficult process because of the emotional attachment that people who grew up attending a certain camp have for that camp,” said Berlant.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.