Saving Summer on Staten Island

A boy jumps from the swimming platform into the lake at Pouch Camp on Staten Island, NY.
Photo credit: 
Laura Barisonzi

A deep breath, a big jump, and the first splash of summer. It's a feeling city kids treasure year-round. Now, the permanent protection of a forest retreat on Staten Island means more campers will be making memories for generations to come. 

Campers fish from the deck above the lake at Pouch Camp on Staten Island, NY.
Photo credit: 
Laura Barisonzi

The hundred-acre Pouch Camp is the only Boy Scout camp in New York City; serving tens of thousands of scouts and other visitors every year. Its wooded trails and quiet lakes are many city kids' first experience in the outdoors—and an important resource for wildlife habitat and water quality. 

Boys jump from the swimming platform into the lake at Pouch Camp on Staten Island, NY.
Photo credit: 
Laura Barisonzi

So when a tightening budget forced the Greater New York Councils Boys Scouts of America to consider selling the property, we were eager to help them find an alternative. The Trust for Public Land worked with the council, government agencies, and an alliance of committed community groups to raise $11 million to protect Pouch Camp with conservation easements—special legal protections that prevent development. It's a solution we've used at camps around the country, including the Girl Scout's Camp Conowingo in Maryland. 

Camp couselors and campers take off on a rowboat ride on the lake at Pouch Camp on Staten Island, NY.
Photo credit: 
Laura Barisonzi

"Conservation is the best solution whenever possible," says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association. "The preservation of land is part of our value system."

Two campers with their arms around each other smile for the camera at Pouch Camp on Staten Island, NY.
Photo credit: 
Laura Barisonzi

Comments

Janet Cuenca, June 19, 2014
I'm always in favor of keeping greenspace open and green!FeemG
Meade Cadot, June 19, 2014
It's too bad both Girl and especially Boy Scout Councils have such a horrible record of selling off land--usually donated to them--so they can keep their corporate officers behind desks with carpets on the floor. Moral of the story. Never leave important land to Scouts!!!
Sara Smith, June 24, 2014
We need to preserve green spaces for ourselves and for future generations! <3
Michael Scarano, July 6, 2014
Hello Meade... you are right on. I have been involved in NYC Scouting continuously since the 1960s. I have seen the Council sell off treasured parcels in Nassau County, pieces of Camp Alpine, NJ, Sanita Hills (Dutchess County), and their latest threat at Camp Pouch in Staten Island. In all cases, the short term cash raised by the land sales were quickly squandered and permanently lost. Finally, they are down to their last few pieces of real estate and, lo and behold, looking for more cash. I applaud organizations such as TPL and the Nature Conservancy (of which I am a member), for providing this viable alternative.
Michael Scarano, July 6, 2014
Meade, an additional comment on the last part of your post... It is still possible to leave land to Scouts, and I would not discourage it. All the donor need do is insure that the proper language exists in the bequeathal that prevents the land from being sold off or developed (beyond that consistent with the original intent of the parcel). Many of the New York area Scout parcels were never put up for sale, for this specific reason.

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