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Camping season gets underway at Dunn Memorial Scout Camp

Lorelei Muller

After a slow, wet start to spring had twice delayed plans for the annual cleanup, the Dunn Memorial Camp Committee and two dozen members of the Huntingdon Scouting movement, from the youngest Beavers to grandparents, got to work on May 4. Venturer Scouts (age 15-17) assisted with replacing the roof over a well and painting the new front gate. As youth helped prepare the grounds for camping season, they accumulated hours toward section awards for community service, but more importantly, as expressed by Howick Venturer Travis Cavers, “I like helping out to keep the grounds nice. It looks better and I learned new skills like fixing and painting. Camping is fun and it’s good for younger kids to explore the grounds.”

After the first Scouts camped there in 1954, the wilderness camp of approximately 100 acres, in Elgin, near the covered bridge, was bequeathed to the Scouting movement of the Chateauguay Valley by Gordon Dunn. In 2015, with the passing of Evangelia Saridakis, the local camp committee was prepared to receive her bequest of an additional 144 acres of land adjoining the camp on the west side. However, despite the best efforts of local volunteers, in September 2018 Scouts Canada refused the gift. As per the national organization’s property policy, “While we believe that youth having access to the outdoors is integral to the Scout Method, we do not believe that owning or leasing real estate property is integral to our mission.”

Camping season gets underway at Dunn Memorial Scout Camp
Scouting members of all ages pitched in to prepare Dunn Memorial Scout Camp for the summer season photo Cynthia Roy

Colliers International, a real estate services and property management company, was recently engaged to review approximately 500 properties across the country owned by Scouts Canada. Many properties that are completely unused are expected to be liquidated. Quebec Provincial Council Inc. holds the title for four camps including Dunn Memorial and Tamaracouta Scout Reserve (TSR), 1,000 acres in the Laurentian mountains, established in 1912 and known as the oldest continuously operating Scout camp in the world. Scouts Canada has compelled the temporary closure of TSR pending its review, as the grounds need repairs and significant infrastructure upgrades to continue to be a viable, safe property for youth to enjoy. As one of the most valuable land assets and having welcomed thousands of youth over the years, TSR is expected to be among the first properties reviewed. According to George Craigie, Council Commissioner for Quebec, “Camps like TSR have rich history and deep support. They can be very viable if they are managed properly.”

Dunn Memorial is managed by a dedicated committee of local volunteers. Committee chair Linus Tucker notes, “We’ve got a great team including people with extensive experience in property management, construction, and non-profit administration. We’re lucky to have arborist Philippe Dandurand. Recently, my son Zachary designed and welded the new gate and we’re fortunate to have access to power equipment from J.T. Sport.” He continues, “We’re also grateful for great community support for fundraising efforts.” The wilderness nature of the camp means expenses for upkeep are relatively low; simple shelters on the grounds have neither electricity nor plumbing. The site provides a true outdoor adventure for youth. Says Tucker, “We hope that the review will be favourable and that the camp will continue to offer adventure for years to come.”
This spring the committee plans to complete road repairs, including replacing culverts. An assessment completed by Ambioterra, providing an inventory of flora and fauna along with recommendations for sustainable management, is eagerly anticipated in the coming days.

In addition to Scouts from the Valley and beyond, Dunn also welcomes guests from Girl Guides of Canada, Canadian Cadet Organization, and other groups. Members of Ormstown and Howick 4-H Clubs, along with exchange twins from Manitoba, completed the revitalization of the amphitheatre in the woods last summer. Twelve new benches were installed which can seat 80 people along with room for a dozen lawn chairs behind the back row.

Over various weekends in May, approximately 500 Scouts of all ages from Quebec, Ontario, New York, and New Hampshire camped at Dunn. This included a group gathered for the annual Bear Claw Camp which, after 34 years at TSR, was forced to find a new venue this year.
Fees from $2 to $4 per person are charged for day visits and overnight stays. Visits to the property without permission are prohibited. For more information, contact dunnmemorialcamp@gmail.com.

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