Cedarlands shutting down summer scout camp in 2012

— One of three Boy Scout camps in town will not be open for summer camp this year, forcing scouts throughout the region to find alternatives.

Officials from the Utica-based Revolutionary Trails Council announced recently that they will not be offering a summer resident camp program in 2012 at their Cedarlands Scout Reservation, a 5,000-acre property headquartered at McRorie Lake.

“Although this decision was not easy, it is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of our camping operation and our council,” camp officials wrote in a Jan. 17 letter to the scouting community.

The main reason for this decision was the declining number of campers at the Council’s three summer camps: Cedarlands; Camp Russell on White Lake south of Old Forge; and Camp Kingsley on Bullhead Lake west of Boonville. Only 25 percent, or 500, of the Council’s scouts attend their summer camps, and between 500 and 600 scouts from other councils join them. That’s not enough to make up for increasing maintenance and operating costs.

“At a critical time in preparing for camp, we simply do not have enough committed campers to offer a meaningful program,” Council officials wrote. “For the past 30 years, our council has been challenged with maintaining three summer programs and three camping facilities with limited volunteer, staff and financial resources. Unfortunately, the expenditure of these resources has not had a meaningful impact on increasing our membership or camp attendance. In fact, camp attendance has steadily declined over the past 10 years.”

If the council did not act immediately to save money, officials said it was likely that the council itself may not survive.

“Unfortunately, several councils in central New York have experienced such failures and their programs, membership and Scouts have suffered as a result,” officials wrote.

The council will still use Cedarlands this summer as a day-trip option for scouts looking for a “high adventure” experience. Council leaders plan to use Camp Russell as a base camp for high adventure trips around the region, including outdoor recreation destinations such as Cedarlands on McRorie Lake.

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