June 25, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Cub Scouts learned the different steps to knighthood by the time they waved goodbye to fellow day campers Wednesday at Camp Agawam.
After almost a two-year hiatus, Boy Scout Camp Agawam reopened Monday, June 25 for the first of two summer day camp sessions.
Nearly 20 Cub Scout packs signed up for the first session themed Knights of the Round Table proctored by local troop leaders and volunteers.
Scouts still have time to sign up for the second session July 14 to July 16 online at www.michiganscouting.org/Contact. Day camp runs from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. and the cost ranges from $50 to $65.
On top of swimming, archery and shooting BB guns, scouts learned the grueling ways of the medieval page on Monday, became a helpful squire on Tuesday, and were knighted on Wednesday.
Boys and girls decorated den flags and their own wooden shields, learned sword skills and older scouts jousted.
Boy Scout members of the Order of the Arrow, the national honor society for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), also came back to Agawam to lend a hand.
Lake Orion Troop 186 Boy Scout Michael Lowry remembered blistering hot days years ago when Agawam was fully functional, swimming with friends and particularly loved shooting the BB guns, which his parents never allowed him to own.
"I came back because I like to pay it forward with helping everybody that always helped me when I was here," Lowry said.
From 1918 to 2012 Camp Agawam at 1301 West Clarkston Rd., a private camp owned by the BSA Michigan Crossroads Council, was a fully operational Boy Scout ranch. Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs could rent facilities, camp on site and participate in day and twilight camp sessions.
"We are very hopeful that they will fully open it back up," assistant camp director Allison Roberts said. "We were really sad to see it go, and very happy to be back this year."
Agawam volunteers and troop leaders received special permission from the Michigan Crossroads Council to utilize the camp for this summer only. Day camp sessions were moved to Independence Oaks last summer, and at this point it is unknown whether the camp will open again next summer.
Four Boy Scout camps were closed over the past couple of years when membership began dropping, funding became more scarce and consolidation of organizations and services was essential.
Roberts and other troop volunteers sent numerous emails asking the council to rethink summer programs at Camp Agawam and got their wish, even if limited to two summer sessions.
"This is a Boy Scout owned property so we just had to convince them to let us back in here because this is the right place for our cubs to be during day camp," she said.
The properties committee of the Michigan Crossroads Council made the decision to close the camp in January 2012 after an in depth analysis was conducted on the 16 Boy Scout camps used or owned in the lower peninsula. In addition to Camp Agawam, Camp Holaka of Lapeer, Lost Lake Scout Reservation of Clare County, and Paul Bunyan Scout Reservation near Rose City were also closed.
There are 12 Boy Scout camps in operation in Michigan.
Frank Reigleman, Outdoor Adventurer Director for the Michigan Crossroads Council, said the council granted the special permission this summer only to give local scouts a venue for their programs.
Reigleman said scout membership—which rose slightly last year after falling in the years before—was only one of the issues council took into consideration to consolidate.
"A lot of it comes down to duplication of resources and getting the right amount of properties and programs to serve the members," he said.
Apart from closing camps, the council has also consolidated administrative duties at the state and local levels.
"There's just not as many people (in the state of Michigan) and not as many kids, so it's similar to the same struggle with many school districts with extra buildings," he explained.
"We want to let people know that we are a good option to get their kids out of the house to reconnect with nature to let the scouting level come alive."