Yours, Mine, Ours....

There is not a week that goes by without receiving a request about the use of the camp property for both season and off season use.  For the most part it is a Pack or a Troop or maybe even a Crew that requests a weekend so that they can come up, use a campsite and have a weekend together.  Then there are district events such as camporees that wish to use the entire facility for the district.  This is followed by council events such Woodbadge or training conferences.  Then we have a number of outside folks who wish to use the facilities for family reunions, weddings, work events (outdoor training) and things like that.  It is this latter group which is interesting because they usually find out about our facility through numerous listings on the Internet; none of which we actively participate in yet still are listed.  Many of these folks don't understand the concept of our "seasonal" work; in other words, they want to rent a part of the camp during summer camp.  That of course brings a chuckle from us, however it is understandable that people outside the program wouldn't know how this works.  We have been able to do some things though.  A school district contacted us and wanted to know if we could put on some challenges or leadership "games" that their teachers who were going to be on a training retreat could use.  We were able to accommodate that by sending our COPE/Tower folks to do team training at the arboretum.  The boys enjoyed it and the camp made a little extra cash for its effort.  Of course, we were dealing with another not-for-profit organization and we were able to align our schedules so that this did not interfere with the camp program.

However I am more interested in discussing the interactions we have with people within the program.  Although I amongst others feel the affinity and ownership of that facility on the Hood Canal, it is part of the Chief Seattle Council and has a purpose within the framework of the program presented by the council.  It has always been the goal to provide low cost, outdoor experiences for scouting youth and having several beautiful facilities within the Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of opportunities for that.  You have Camp Parsons on the Hood Canal, you have Camp Brinkley and Camp Pigott at the foothills of the Cascades and you have Camp Sheppard on the side of Mt. Rainier.  All of these offer opportunities for great experiences for a great price.....and as far as Camp Parsons goes, if you do a planned work project, it is "free".  Well, not really free as we take your work in return for your stay.....but a good scout would do that anyway.

Then we have a group of people who think that the facilities come part and parcel with their registration fee.  If they are a registered scout in the council, then they can go and use any of the facilities at any time and at no cost.  By extension, they truly feel it belongs to them.  Although we go out of our way to make everyone feel welcome and part of the camp at any given time during the year; part of being a good citizen is contributing your share to the group, in this manner there is a nominal fee mainly as a token and realization that there are resources spent in the maintenance and operation of the facility.  The more you use it, the greater the fee as there is a greater burden on resources.  Membership in the Chief Seattle Council gives you opportunity...not full access.  Many people falsely believe that Camp Parsons operates on the income it brings in.  They don't understand that the net gain that we bring in each year goes to the council as income and from that, a budget is generated (of which Camp Parsons is a part of) that we must live by.  So we just can't charge for something you use.....what resource is used must be part of the yearly budget from which operate from.  That is one of the reasons why we don't let people use some of the equipment (boats, guns, etc.) or facilities (cabins, kitchens, etc.) unless this is already taken in as a consideration of our budget.  Then again, why should we?   The facility is there for outdoor experiences; if you want to canoe, go to a canoe outfitter that will rent you the boat based on their usage, supply training and supervision as well.  We had one group that wanted to use Ken's office; they wanted him to move everything out except for the computers and printers so that they could use it for a weekend.  What they didn't understand was that it is a year round working office, not part of the facility or other words, it is not theirs, it is ours.

Ownership in the boy scouting program is a fickle thing.  Many people become attached to a facility due to experiences, time, etc and truly believe it belongs to them.  I can closely relate to those sentiments, however they are misguided.  You can probably go to any council in the US and you will find that this is a basis of division between professional scouting and volunteers.  You will have a property that is no longer serving a purpose and costing money, yet it has been a part of the council (and those "vested" volunteers) since the beginning of time.  What many of these volunteers fail to see is that ownership in this setting really means having pride in your work to make that facility the best it can be; physically AND financially so that it can serve scouting youth for years to come.  You may have influence on certain things but ultimately it is not yours to have.  Too many people think that they are entitled to certain things or the facility belongs to them when in reality, they are really leasing "space" and not things (like offices, backhoes, boats, etc.).  It is simply yours when you are looking for a beautiful place to spend some scouting time at; it is mine when I think of the years I spent there and it is ours in the sense that we all benefit from a little piece of heaven at the feet of the Olympic Mountains.