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Orion's Camp Agawam takes a rest



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The sign outside of Camp Agawam may never see visitors again. Photo by L. Farrell (click for larger version)
November 28, 2012 - Effective January 1, Boy Scout Camp Agawam will close its gates. That's the bad news. The good news is that the camp will not be sold and very well could return to operation.

Due to declining participation and funding, officials from the Great Lakes Council reluctantly made the decision to consolidate scout camps back in September. Their decision reduced the number of scouting camps in the state from sixteen to six. Unfortunately, Camp Agawam (1301 W Clarkston Rd) was on the list.

"I don't think anyone that enjoys the outdoors and understands the value of outdoor education is pleased when you have to close a camp. It was decision that was not lightly taken," Scout Executive/CEO Richard Fisher said.

Cub Scouts in Orion Township will now go to the D-bar-A Scout Ranch near Metamora, and Boy Scouts will have the option of going to the D-Bar A or other camps in Michigan.

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There are about 25,000 scouts in the three Detroit Metro area counties. The scout camps in this area are frequented by less than 50 percent of these scouts. Staffing, program and equipment costs at these camps plus under-capacity usage equals a need for consolidation.

Michigan scout camps are funded annually by family and friends of scouting, some corporate support, and the annual scouting popcorn sale. A small percentage of revenue is supplied from operational grants and trust income. These sources have dried up recently.

Fisher said as the regional economic situation improves and as more families move in to the area, he hopes revenue will go up along with membership.

"Our goal," Fisher said, "is to increase participation throughout the state so that there will be a need to open these camps at a future date."

Until then, Camp Agawam will remain Scout property. There are no plans to sell or otherwise dispose of the property, Fisher insisted. "The decision has been made that it will not be sold," he said.

In the meantime, current caretaker Carr will be retained and will be responsible for making sure the property is kept up.

"It is disappointing that we have to rest this camp," said Fisher, "but I am hopeful that through strong membership drives and quality programs that the camp will be open at some time in the future."

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