Lake Orion’s Camp Agawam, a Boy Scout camp on West Clarkston Road since 1918, is one of three Michigan Scout camps that will not operate in 2013.
In a message posted on the Boy Scouts of America’s Great Lakes Council webpage, the council announced that the “difficult, but necessary” decision was made to close the camps after a committee review of the council’s Michigan camping programs and properties. The move comes after a 2011 study found that Scouting membership and revenue have declined “precipitously” in Michigan, due at least in part to the recession.
A letter posted over the signatures of Scout executives Jack Chandler and Richard Fisher states that, “An extensive nine-month review was conducted for each camp’s program strengths that evaluated facility conditions, location to population centers, attendance and financial sustainability. As a result, a recommendation …was presented to the MCC (Michigan Crossroads Council) Executive Committee and approved on September 10, 2012.”
Camp Agawam was established in 1918 at a time when the Boy Scout movement in the U.S. was new. Originally named Camp Pontiac, it was renamed in 1933 after the Pontiac Council was replaced by the Oakland Area Council.
Orion Township Clerk Penny Shults speculated that the camp could go up for sale. Part of the camp was already developed into upscale, lakefront homes. A vacant lakefront lot on Tommys Lake is currently for sale at $149,900. Assessing records indicate the Boy Scouts still own 125 acres in the area, all of it tax-exempt.
“Back a few years ago, when the economy was great, developers were fighting over buying it,” said Orion Township Trustee Neal Porter. “Now that it’ll be available, it’ll be interesting to see what the developers are going to do.”
State Rep. Brad Jacobsen of Oxford said he attended week-long summer camps and winter weekend camping at Camp Agawam.
“I’m really sorry to hear” that it’s closing, he said. “I know they’ve been struggling financially for a number of years. They were talking about closing a few years ago.
“It’s certainly a prime piece of property if they decide to sell it,” he said. “With such a small amount of access on Clarkston Road, I don’t think people realize how big it is.”