I have had the privilege to give back to the Scouting program now for 27 years. Ever since earning the rank of Eagle Scout during the summer of 1988, I have worked each year since (nine years of summer camp staff and 18 years as a professional Scouter) giving back to the program that made such a difference in my life. I was fortunate to have a great Scoutmaster, Mr. Payne, who never raised his voice although we gave him many opportunities to, always gave unselfishly of his time and taught his Scouts so much, even when we didn’t think we were learning. Scouting taught me life lessons and skills that I still use to this day and now share with my son, a Webelos Scout working on his Arrow of Light award.
I believe in the Scouting program and the values it teaches young people today. Kids today need Scouting and the values taught by the Scouting program more than ever before. In a world of entitlement and everyone winning a trophy, where sports stars and other “role models” for kids are in the news for behavior not what we should expect from role models; kids need real adults to look up to and serve as mentors.
So, when I hear comments made about Scouting, or the council I work for, that damage what is so important to me, it concerns me. For the past couple weeks, I have had people comment to me that they have heard that our council is not going to have summer camp in 2015. Well, I have to say that is news to me! We are busy doing all the prep work getting ready for summer camp: preparing a budget, creating a long term plan to buy new tents, cots and mattresses, writing a completely new set of leader guidebooks, working on a Cub Scout Resident Camp program requested by many of our leaders, getting ready to interview staff, etc. If we were not planning to have camp, I am not sure why we would spend all this time getting ready.
I have been spending the past eight months getting out and talking with and listening to our leaders and donors. It has been a great experience to hear other’s feelings about our council. In the past few months, we have been working very hard to raise the additional money we need to resume camp payments for Bayport Scout Reservation in February.
While we have a lot still to do, I am very happy to say that we have secured enough in donations and pledges to make payments through July 2015 and into the end of 2015. WE ARE OPEN FOR SUMMER CAMP IN 2015!!! I am not sure where the rumor got started about camp not being open for summer camp, it is simply not true. So, now is the time to get a reservation made to come to Bayport Scout Reservation in the summer of 2015. Reservations can be made by calling Eric Smith at 757-595-3356.
We are and will continue to work hard to keep Bayport Scout Reservation open for our Scouts. We are fighting to keep the camp open and I hope your Scout unit will attend our great camp. I do have to say that it would be disappointing to secure the funds needed to make the monthly bank payment and keep the camp open, only to have no one attend summer camp this year because of misinformation being spread. So I am making two requests: 1) make a reservation for Bayport Scout Reservation for Summer Camp 2015 and 2) spread the word that Bayport is open and ready for camp in 2015. If you hear the closure rumor, please take a moment to provide to accurate and correct message that Bayport Scout Reservation is Open for Business during the Summer of 2015!!!
Many of you received or have heard about the letter that was sent a couple of weeks ago from our Council President, Jeff Wassmer. A copy of that letter is below. Since coming to the council, I have tried to be very transparent regarding our council's operations and financial outlook. Visiting leader's roundtables this past spring helped me get out and share with many of you the opportunities and challenges our council faces. We chose to send this letter to remain transparent with those that have given so much to our council and the Scouts in it.
I wanted to take a moment and provide some more information and give an update to our progress since the letter was sent. First, more information. As I have visited with Scout volunteers and donors, I have shared with them the fact that our council's operating budget is in good shape. With the help of many donors, operating revenue is up over the planned 2014 operating budget and expenses are below budget. Our 2014 summer resident camp and other events at Bayport Scout Reservation are financially sound and the overall facility operations at Bayport Scout Reservation are not supported by other sources of revenue other than those related to Bayport. This is great news. Our camp's daily operations are financially self-sufficient. Our camp is a great asset both in a program perspective and a financial operational perspective. However, as many of you know, we do still owe over $5,600,000 on the purchase and construction of the camp. We look forward to hosting the 2015 Section SR-7A Order of the Arrow Conclave and planning for 2015 Summer Resident Camp continues to progress.
Now for a quick update. Since the letter was sent, we have heard from many Scout leaders and parents with their thoughts and concerns. We appreciate your input and the manner in which you have communicated with us. We are working very hard to raise the necessary funds to resume monthly payments to our lenders in February 2015 and will do everything possible to keep Bayport Scout Reservation open for our Scouts to enjoy the outdoor adventure that Scouting thrives on. We have received several donations already, commitments to make donations now or after the first of the year or invitations to visit and discuss possible solutions. We appreciate each of these. Now is the time to help, if you are able. As mentioned in roundtables this past spring, I need the help of many to help the council through these trying times. It's as if we are rolling a giant stone ball up a hill and this is much easier done with many shoulders pushing in the same direction. I hope that those that may be bystanders are able to become involved in some positive way and help us out. I appreciate everything that each of you do as leaders to deliver the Scouting program to our Scouts, our communities need Scouting more than ever.
With the help of many, we will be successful. We will be able to roll this giant stone ball to the top of the hill and watch as it rolls down the other side. We have some great positive momentum on our side, we will keep working to be successful.
I thank each of you once again for everything you do for Scouting in our council, we cannot do it without your help. Visit frequently to this blog to get more updates on the council.
Yours in Scouting,