Boy Scout camp to be sold in fall
FINGER LAKES--The Seneca Waterways Council, a regional Boy Scouts organization, has announced that due to financial issues created by the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy agreement, Camp Babcock-Hovey will be sold. In the meantime, the camp will continue to operate through October and is still taking reservations.
"When you give thought to how we allocate resources to our Scout units it seems odd that during the two best months of the year for units to go camping we do not have a space or facility available for units to camp. Opening up Babcock-Hovey Scout Camp for Scout units to go weekend and extended camping in July and August will help fill that void and in the long run, we will serve more youth during the summer than we were able to reach with summer camp alone," stated Stephen Hoitt, Seneca Waterways Council scout executive/CEO in a prepared statement.
In a letter sent to member families, executives justified their decision to sell the 283-acre camp located in Ovid on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake.
"Our volunteer executive board this evening made the difficult decision to begin the process of selling Camp Babcock-Hovey," wrote Seneca Waterways Council executives in a prepared statement to affected families. "The board made this choice only after nearly a year spent exploring ways to fulfill our obligation to the national BSA bankruptcy settlement, including a fully researched recommendation from the council's asset committee."
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February of 2020 after several states changed laws that allowed thousands of children to sue. A $2.6 billion proposed settlement is being put in place for child sexual abuse victims.
With all local councils contributing to the bankruptcy obligations, the Seneca Waterways Council was on the hook for $8 million. Along with the financial burden created by the bankruptcy, the financial impact of COVID has also had a negative impact on council financials.
"After using all our operating and capital cash assets, together with funds generated from aggressively logging at our camps, we still cannot afford to pay that amount without selling a camp," Seneca Waterways wrote to families.
On the Seneca Waterways Council social media many members are bemoaning the loss of the camp, with some even suggesting selling the other camps owned and operated by Seneca Waterways might be more prudent. Still, others were greatly concerned for the future of donated benches located throughout the park that are engraved with family names.
"The loss of Camp Babcock-Hovey is painful, especially for those who have spent treasured weeks of their Scouting careers there, or more than that, have dedicated significant portions of their lifetimes caring for that beautiful camp and providing leadership for its staff and campers," the letter reads. "We understand. Operationally, we plan to run the camp through the end of October when we would normally complete the seasonal shutdown of water lines."
After the sale of Camp Babcock-Hovey, Seneca Waterways will still have Camp Cutler, a 1,300-acre location in the Bristol Hills and Massawepie Scout Camps where scouting activities will continue year-round.