Attorney General and Camp Bomazeen supporters sue Pine Tree Council of Boy Scouts
BELGRADE – The Maine Attorney General’s Office, joined by a group of local lawyers to keep Camp Bomazeen in Belgrade as a Boy Scout camp, is involved in a state lawsuit against the Pine Tree Council of Boy Scouts of America.
Superior court lawsuit alleges council’s efforts to sell the camp to raise money to help get out of debt violate the terms of Great Pond’s Deed of Ownership in place since the place was offered by Dr George Averill in the 1940s as a place for Boy Scouts to camp.
The lawsuit filed by the state office AG earlier this year seeks to prevent the council from using the proceeds of the Camp Bomazeen sale project to pay the board’s operating expenses, creditors or debt. The lawsuit also states that any proceeds from this potential sale will be held in trust “for the purpose of directly supporting camping activities for Boy Scouts in the Pine Tree Council area, with a preference for Boy Scouts in central Maine.”
Local residents and longtime Scout leaders Bruce Rueger of Waterville and Scott Adams of China, along with the 300-member group Bomazeen Old Timers, joined as interveners in the case in April. They claim that the charitable trust, which initially received ownership of the camp and whose administrators were responsible for overseeing its use by the scouts, was never properly dissolved when the council took control of Camp Bomazeen. They therefore argue that the council should be ordered to end all efforts to sell the camp and that local stakeholders should be appointed successor trustees and given title and control of the property.
Stakeholders note that the camp “has been owned and operated consistently with the purpose of the charitable trust, continuously since its inception in 1944,” court documents filed for Krueger, Adams and the Bomazeen Old Timers by attorneys Russell Pierce Jr. and Adrian Kendall State.
“Throughout these decades, Camp Bomazeen has played a formative, educational, emotional and life-changing role for thousands and thousands of Boy Scouts and Boy Scout leaders in central Maine, throughout Maine and among the nationwide scout movement, ”the file said. “Camp Bomazeen has become the epitome of decades of traditions, experiences, memories and lifelong connections.
The Pine Tree Council, in legal files responding to the lawsuit, is seeking to have the case closed. In those documents, the organization notes that the deed specifically permits the sale of the Bomazeen property, claims that the board properly took control of the property in 2008 as no successor trustee had been appointed and there is no had no current trustee. They also state that the charitable trust created by the Averill deed failed, so the council took the title from the camp without any restrictions that were in that deed.
Counsel for the council, Eric Wycoff, also filed a counterclaim against the office of the AG, asking the court to declare that the council took the title of the camp with the only restriction whatsoever for “use and for the benefit of the Boy Scouts of America ”and that the use proposed by the Board of the proceeds from a sale of Bomazeen to repay its debt and support its operations would indeed comply with this restriction.
Court documents indicate ownership – which earlier this year seemed about to be sold, until this agreement fell through – is not currently for sale.
Matt Klutzaritz, scout director and CEO of Raymond’s Pine Tree Council, declined to comment on Friday and questioned council attorney Wycoff.
Rueger, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, is a former director of Camp Bomazeen and has been a region scout leader for about 25 years. He had previously said that a group of people were working to make their beloved camp a Scout camp, or at least a youth camp, and prevent its sale for private development.
Klutzaritz has previously said that leaders of the Pine Tree Council, which oversees Boy Scout programming in the south and central state, voted to sell the 76-year-old Camp Bomazeen, which spans some 300 acres, some on the beachfront, as a way to raise funds to help pay off council debt.
Local Boy Scouts opposed the sale and looked for a way to keep Camp Bomazeen available as a youth camp.
Documents filed by counsel for the council indicate that between 2014 and 2019, the council accumulated a debt of $ 1 million, part of which incurred for the maintenance of its properties, including $ 334,000 for improvements to the camp. Bomazeen and $ 450,000 in administrative expenses to support its four camps in Maine.
Klutzaritz said the goal was to sell Camp Bomazeen to a person or entity that would at least allow continued use by the Boy Scouts.
Council officials have since announced plans to try to sell two more of its four camps in Maine, Camp Gustin in Sabattus and Camp Nutter in Acton, in order to raise money for its part of a Boy Scouts fund. America for victims of sexual abuse. According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, Pine Tree Council chairman Jack O’Toole told Parent Scouts that the Boy Scouts of America were compensating victims of abuse and that the council will be responsible for a very large cash contribution for victims. ‘fund.
Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America, which filed for bankruptcy in 2020, offered to create a victim assistance fund of at least $ 300 million. National Public Radio last year estimated the group was facing around 300 lawsuits from former scouts who said they were sexually abused.
State AG’s complaint acknowledges that Averill’s act for Camp Bomazeen permits its sale, but clarifies that any proceeds from its sale must comply with the terms of the act, which require that product be used for purposes of direct support for Boy Scouts camping activities in the Pine Tree Council area, with a preference for Boy Scouts in central Maine.
It indicates that the Pine Tree Council’s intended use of the proceeds from the sale of Camp Bomazeen, to pay its operating expenses and debt, “is not permitted by the terms of the donation and would constitute a breach of the trust. charity, in violation of Maine common law… “
Clerks said the case was not yet scheduled for legal action. The parties, according to court records, have agreed to seek to resolve the issue through mediation.
Meanwhile, according to articles posted on the “Friends of Bomazeen” Facebook page, preparations are underway to have Camp Bomazeen ready for at least some use by Scouts this summer, with Scout camping weekends. scheduled for July 9-11 and July 16-18.
Part of the council’s court records show how participation in its programming has declined, as Scouting participation has also declined nationally. The number of scouts served by the council, according to court records, increased from 14,066 in 2000 to 3,066 in 2020.