Jul. 14—There's "no!" And then there's "hell no!"
Talk of selling the Frank Childress Scout Reservation near Joplin deserves a "hell no!"
Forgive us for violating that part of Scout Law — yes, some of us are former Boy Scouts — that requires us to be reverent, but selling the 180-acre camp to pay a portion of the settlement for victims of abuse by scoutmasters or other leaders deserves the strongest condemnation. You see, another of the 12 points of the Scout Law is being loyal — including loyalty to the principles of Scouting and to other Scouts who did not create this problem.
John Feick, with the Ozark Trails Council, told us the camp is not on the market but that an offer has been made, and the governing board of the Ozark Trails Council will meet Thursday to discuss the sale.
Feick also told us: "All councils are contributing dollars toward the survivors trust, and our council is faced with a significant aspect of that. We will be discussing options on more than one property."
What's happening in Joplin is happening around the country. Scouts in Illinois recently sold their Stockton Canyon Camp. The Grand Canyon Council, which governs most of Arizona, plans to sell its main summer camp near Payson and part of a Phoenix site in order to meet its share of the settlement. The Greater Hudson Valley Council in New York has put multiple properties up for sale.
The Frank Childress Scout Reservation features a year-round multipurpose building, swimming pool, dining hall, trout pond, hiking and biking trails, and themed features such as a pirate ship, Old West fort and an old mine. It has a dollar value, but memories made at the camp and the lessons learned there are invaluable.
A bankruptcy judge set a July 29 hearing on a proposed $850 million settlement agreement the Boy Scouts of America have with attorneys representing about 60,000 victims of child sex abuse.
Boy Scouts of America also has agreed to sell dozens of Norman Rockwell paintings to help raise money. That's heartbreaking, given Scouting's long relationship with Rockwell, but better than selling the camps.
DeGruson said local volunteers are exploring options to retain the property for Scouting use, and they have reached out to a volunteer group working to reopen Camp Mintahama, a former camp in Newton County used by Girl Scouts.
"Right now it's a waiting game, but we're trying to put pieces in place quickly and see if we have the opportunity to come up with the money to essentially buy the land," DeGruson told us. "While we have known this might happen, we've had only about three weeks to respond to this buyer."
Selling the camp isn't a solution, just another betrayal of the Scouts themselves.