The Boy Scouts of America Leatherstocking Council announced this week what it calls an “extremely difficult and sad decision” to sell its historic Camp Henderson Scout Reservation amid declining membership and the Council’s significant required contribution to the national Sexual Abuse Compensation Fund.
The Camp, on the shore of Crumhorn Lake off Otsego County Route 35 in the Maryland, has hosted scouts for dozens of years. Ray Eschenbach, Leatherstocking Council Scout Director, told The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta on March 15 the decision was “truly heartwrenching.”
“It is with a heavy heart that this decision had to be made,” Mr. Eschenbach said. “Generations of Scouts have cherished memories of summers on the lake. Hundreds of volunteers, donors, and community organizations have poured their time, money, and Scout spirit into making Camp Henderson a beautiful place.”
“We wish there were another way,” he said. “We know the true legacy of any camp is the countless memories that were made there.”
“We are trying to be as sustainable as possible to keep the program alive all while addressing the needs of abuse survivors,” Mr. Esenbach said.
“As the National, BSA financial restructuring (Chapter 11) plans began to conclude, it became obvious the Council would need to contribute a significant portion of its endowment to the settlement,” Mr. Eschenbach said. “A properties evaluation committee was formed in August to look at all the Council’s properties to measure long-term viability, attendance, needed maintenance, operating costs, and ability to continue resident camping operations.”
Leatherstocking Council will continue to own and operate Camp Kingsley in the Town of Ava, New York, located north of Rome, New York. Camp Henderson, said the Council, requires approximately 10 times the needed maintenance improvements to maintain national standards than does Camp Kingsley. While Leatherstocking had filed in fall 2021 its intent to operate both summer camps in 2022, the national Boy Scouts of America denied the application for Camp Henderson. Among the challenges are what Leatherstocking officials say are “ongoing and unresolved dining hall issues that make it inoperable.”
Camp Kingsley, on the other hand, has no debt.
“The decision to sell Camp Henderson is not just based on making a profit,” they said. “Financial viability is indeed a key factor, but the other factors such as poor camp attendance, camp condition, and the denial to operate played a much larger part.”
Leatherstocking officials said Camp Henderson has a higher market value than does Camp Kingsley, and the group plans to direct proceeds to program endowment. The Council says it plans on running Boy Scouts of America events such as three-day mini-camps at Camp Kingsley so Scouts can work on required outdoor and Eagle-required merit badges.
According to the Leatherstocking Council, at least eight other Scout camps in New York will go to market because of the ongoing national restructuring. Camp Henderson is the third of four to be put up for sale within the Council, including Camp Russell in Woodgate and Cedarlands Scout Reservation in Long Lake. That property came off the market during national bankruptcy proceedings.