Save Sabattis Adventure Camp

All of the other troops think that Blackfoot is the worst campsite at Sabattis Adventure Camp. That’s because it’s the farthest walk to the center of camp. Troop 77 knows that Blackfoot is the best campsite at Sabattis. We’ve been camping at that campsite every summer for years, far longer than our current scouts or their older brothers can remember.

Blackfoot is a very large campsite. It’s large enough that our Scouts can set up their tents far away from the adult leaders, fostering their independence.

I am committee chairman of Boy Scout Troop 77 in Westfield, New Jersey. When I camp at Sabattis with the troop, I set up my tent very near the Blackfoot campsite entrance. My patrol table seems about three football fields away. My son, now a Life Scout, one step away from Eagle, and his tentmate set up their tent beyond my patrol table.

Nature calls at 6 a.m., before the rest of the troop is awake, and I open my tent to the insanely beautiful view of the lake, which is about 50 feet in front of me. I walk through the campsite, expecting to be alone, and I see my son standing out in the lake.

He’s perched on his favorite spot at the campsite, a rock that’s about the width of a sneaker, and just more than a stride away from the shore. I join him, staying on the shore myself, and he barely acknowledges my presence. We don’t talk. We just sit there together, contemplating life and looking out at the early morning mist that’s rising from the lake.

That moment with just me and my son on this beautiful lake in the northern Adirondacks is seared into my memory forever.

My boy is growing up right before my eyes.

Unlike at any other Patriots Path Council camp, at Sabattis Adventure Camp our boys become men.

I awoke yesterday to rumors that the Patriots Path Council Executive Committee is voting in a week to close Sabattis Adventure Camp, which has been a source of learning and fun for Boy Scouts for 60 years, and sell the 1,250-acre property to developers in the Adirondacks.

It’s not clear why they are considering this move. Although many are aware this is happening, there is no official word from the council. There have been no public discussions, no consultations with those most closely affected by the council’s decisions: the troops, the packs, the scouts and their families.

It’s odd that a Boy Scout executive committee should behave this way. It runs counter to everything we teach our scouts at every meeting. It runs counter to the Scout Law and the Scout Oath that our boys repeat at the start of every troop meeting, every troop activity, and every sunrise at Sabattis.

I’ve emailed all members of the Patriots Path Council staff, urging them against the closure of Sabattis Adventure Camp, and I’ve received the exact same canned reply from all but one who’ve responded, even with the same typo:

“The council president has called a special executive board meeting to discuss the future of Sabattis Adventure Camp. Until the board meets there is no change with the Sabattis Adventure Camp program. If they are any changes it will be announced on the council website during the week of September 18th.”

There is no mention of a council president on the Patriots Path Council website.

It certainly seems the result is already determined.

I encourage all those with a stake in the future of the Boy Scout program — whether your sons are currently Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts or past scouts, whether they have attended Sabattis, currently attend or currently volunteer at Sabattis — to attend a protest scheduled to begin just before the Executive Committee meeting. The protest begins at 6 p.m. at the Patriots Path Council Office at 1 Saddle Road, Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, on Monday, Sept. 18.

Show the Executive Committee the breadth and depth of support that our community has for this jewel of a property that offers experiences and opportunities for learning that do not exist in other council properties. Not at Allamuchy, not at Winnebago. For example, at Sabattis, Scouts cook for themselves and eat in their patrols, unlike the other summer camps where scouts eat food prepared for them, in a communal dining hall.

You can also sign the petition at Change.org to save Sabattis. Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/save-sabattis, and add your voice in the comments.

Phone Patriots Path Council at 973-765-9322, and tell them that you want to save Sabattis Adventure Camp.

And share this. As widely as you can. Let’s mobilize our community to ensure that this amazing place is available to today’s Boy Scouts, and to our future Boy Scouts.

Gary Schwartz lives in Westfield, New Jersey, and is committee chairman of Troop 77, Watchung Mountain District, Patriots Path Council, Boy Scouts of America. This essay is also signed by the following from Troop 77: Don Pizzi, Scoutmaster; Dan O’Connor, Assistant Scoutmaster; Andrew Gibbs, Treasurer; Dr. Kenneth and Jeannie Arida; Jeffrey and Sonya Moore; Emma Schwartz; Frank and Jenn Silva; Evan Gibbs, Eagle Scout; Jonathan Silva, Senior Patrol Leader and Life Scout; William Arida, Life Scout; Logan Gibbs, Life Scout; Declan O’Connor, Life Scout; Gianni Pizzi, Life Scout; Joshua Schwartz, Life Scout; Michael Moore, Star Scout; Mason Gibbs, Tenderfoot Scout.

COMMENTS