Former Boy Scouts decry decision to sell Canyon Camp to help pay national sex abuse lawsuit

Local News

STOCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — The Boy Scouts of America have voted to sell Stockton’s Canyon Camp in order to pay a national sexual abuse settlement.

The Boy Scouts of America have reached an $850 million agreement with attorneys representing some 60,000 victims of child sex abuse.

Attorneys for the BSA filed court papers last week outlining a restructuring support agreement with attorneys representing abuse victims.

The Boy Scouts of America, based in Irving, Texas, sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020, moving to halt hundreds of lawsuits and create a compensation fund for men who were molested as youngsters decades ago by scoutmasters or other leaders.

The Council Executive Committee voted to commit Canyon Camp to the bankruptcy settlement on July 6th.

“It’s a short term, easy solution but a long-term crippling event,” said Kevin Lam, a former staff member and Boy Scout at Canyon Camp.

Canyon Camp, 4856 E Townsend Rd, has been used by the Boy Scouts since 1936.

Lam said the ide of selling the camp is devastating. “I still look back to the most meaningful thing I ever did, which was not just [to] teach someone how to swim, but helping people get over their fear of water, and it just happens there: singing songs and skits, but it’s a big learning experience. I was captivated, immediately.”

Dr. Kristoffer Tumilowicz is the president of the Blackhawk Area Council, and says the decision wasn’t easy to make, but the national Boy Scouts organization needs to find the funds to settle the sex abuse lawsuit.

“It was a difficult decision, but because Canyon Camp came at a higher number, that’s why that consideration was floated,” he said. “So, the Blackhawk executive council and the executive committee and the board have to decide: how are we going to come up with our fair share?”

Lam believes there are other alternatives to selling.

“There are lots of other options. They have other assets. They have other monies…[they could ] mortgage the camp rather than sell the camp,” he said.

Tumilowicz says the council’s hands are tied. “We do not want to close a camp. We don’t want to sell any of our buildings if we don’t have to. It’s not about having one of the camps survive. It’s about having the Blackhawk Area Council and the Boy Scouts survive.”

The executive board of the Blackhawk Area Council will meet on August 19th to decide if the resolution should be upheld.

Canyon Camp Alumni have started a petition to encourage the Blackhawk Area Council to save the camp.

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