Skidder tracks make us doubt Council's motives

For an organization that depends upon public support, the Pine Tree Council, Boy Scouts of America, seems completely inept at public relations.

Local users of Camp Gustin in Sabattus were shocked this week to learn that the Council has begun an aggressive tree-cutting program at the camp.

The fate of the land has been in limbo for about a year, since it was learned the organization's property committee recommended selling the camp for development.

Supporters argue that the land was deeded to the Scouts by Charles W. Gustin in 1933 for use as a wilderness camp. Indeed, over the decades thousands of Scouts have had fun and learned outdoor skills there.

The Council's Executive Committee says Gustin is the most lightly used of the Council's camps and is a burden to the financially strapped district.

It is, however, hard to see how. The district pays no taxes on the land, maintenance is done by volunteers and the road is plowed free of charge.

All of which has led local supporters to conclude the district is only after the money a sale would generate.

A visit to the site Friday showed that the district is certainly not clearing the land. In fact, the area nearest to Loon Pond is untouched.

Yet, the work certainly doesn't resemble a selective thinning of trees. Muddy skidder trails run through campsites and all over the once heavily wooded back side of the camp, away from the lake.

Gustin clearly won't look like its former self, at least not for a long time.

Several facts make us suspicious of the Council's stated  intentions.

First, this work could have been done when the ground was frozen. Instead, the large, chained wheels of a skidder have chewed up the ground beyond recognition.

Campers next year will be pitching tents in the mud.

Second, the Council says this is part of an ordinary harvesting program. Yet, scouting sources say none of the district's other camps have been chewed up like this.

Finally, if it is part of a regular program, why start here? Why now? Why without even notifying local supporters that this was coming?

With the controversy over Gustin raging, why not start the cutting program at a camp that is not in dispute?

The Council says the tree-cutting is unrelated to the question of selling the property.

But they certainly should have seen how all of this, especially the secrecy, would be interpreted by the camp supporters.

In November, the sale question comes again before the Council for what may be a final vote.

We will repeat what we've said before:

As long as local Scouts choose to use Gustin for scouting purposes, the Council has a moral duty to abide by the wishes of Charles W. Gustin and his heirs.

If the district finds the camp burdensome, it should either deed it to a local group that will maintain it for scouting or return it to the Gustin family.

The first two requirements of the Scout Law say Scouts must be trustworthy and loyal.

Selling Camp Gustin would show that Council leaders are neither.

editorialboard@sunjournal.com

Rex Rhoades

Camp Gustin

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Comments

Bob Wright's picture

jojones80, I imagine some of

jojones80, I imagine some of the money is going towards the debt on the Taj Mahal in Portland. Instead of punishing the children with the raping and selling of the camp, sell the GD Taj Mahal and make the higher ups live within the means. These kids are busting their humps to support the elite within the council. The council needs to be replaced!

Bob Wright's picture

Marckus, the kids and the

Marckus, the kids and the local dens keep the majority of the popcorn money. It pays for the kids activities and camp. I agree with Skippy, clean house at the top.

 's picture

No more overpriced popcorn

No more overpriced popcorn for me.

Bob Wright's picture

Instead of raping Camp

Instead of raping Camp Gustin, then selling it, where plenty of kids gain confidence and self esteem, a place where friendships are made, why don't the scouts sell the Taj Mahal in Portland. The council can pay the debt and get a smaller more modest building. Let us also look at some of the salaries that people draw on the backs of the children.

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

It is time for local scout

It is time for local scout leaders from the entire State to open their eyes and take over command of scouting n Maine and oust the scoundrels currently running the program. Certainly the powers that be can be ousted and are not divinely appointed for life.

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