San Angelo Boy Scouts Win Court Battle Over Ownership of Camp Fawcett
ROCKSPRINGS, TX — The Board of Trustees for the Camp Fawcett Boy Scout camp lost a court battle this week in Edwards County against the Southwest Council of Scouts BSA based here in San Angelo. The 452nd District Judge, the Honorable Robert Hoffman dismissed with prejudice the Trustee’s attempt to wrestle back ownership of the camp property from the Southwest Council.
Camp Fawcett is a 173.45-acre camping site located on the Nueces River about 75 miles northwest of Uvalde. The camp was donated to the Southwest Council during the height of the Great Depression for Boy Scouts to use as campgrounds, similar to how Camp Sol Meyer near Menard is used.
Camp Fawcett has a board of directors who oversee the camp in coordination with the day-to-day management of the property by the Scout Executive at the Southwest Council with headquarters in San Angelo. The Trustees are a separate entity, not governed by Scouts BSA. The Trustees were organized to oversee the camp’s stewardship under the agreement to transfer the land to the Boy Scouts in the 1930s.
Camp Fawcett was founded in 1930 under the leadership of E.K. Fawcett who was a rancher near Dolan Creek north of Del Rio. Fawcett also served as president of the former Southwest Council in the early 1900s and later, sat on the board of the former Concho Valley Council that has since been enlarged to include the former Southwest Texas Council and Concho Valley Council. The combined councils were previously consolidated before being renamed the Texas Southwest Council about 10 years ago. Today, the jurisdiction of the TSWC extends from Uvalde to Eagle Pass to Fort Stockton and north to the Concho Valley.
The spat over Camp Fawcett between the Trustees and Scouts BSA began years prior to the filing of the lawsuit in 2017. The Trustees worried that the cash-strapped Southwest Council was neglecting the facility in favor of up keeping Camp Sol Meyer and paying for other operational expenses. Then, scheduling the use of Camp Fawcett became an issue because the main cafeteria needed extensive repairs and the Southwest Council leased Camp Fawcett to hunters during the deer season.
How the Southwest Council leased the property for hunting became the focal point during the court hearings.
The Southwest Council had been leasing the property since the mid-2000s for hunting, and in doing so, denied the use of the camp to Boy Scout groups in the Amistad districts when hunting was underway on the property. The Trustees argued that the most current hunting lease gave up operational control by the Boy Scouts to the lessee in violation of the original deed of the land when it was handed over to the Boy Scouts as a gift. Therefore, the Trustees sought to take back the camp and manage it themselves for the benefit of scouting groups, particularly those groups in the southwest Texas region.
After the judge’s ruling to dismiss the case last week, Brad Bradley, spokesman for the Trustees said there would be no appeal or future litigation.
“Following an unfavorable court ruling in the ongoing dispute between the Texas Southwest Council of Boy Scouts of America, which focused on the council’s lack of focus on area scouts which Camp Fawcett was intended to serve, the Camp Fawcett Trustees, unfortunately, see no reasonable path forward to continue the court battle,” he said.
“We sincerely hope that our pressure has forced the council to re-focus on the needs of area scouts who need this facility, instead of excluding boy scouts from the camp, in favor of raising revenue for the council, and continuing to allow the camp to fall further into disrepair.
“We intend to continue to watch closely to ensure that these scouts are well-served, and we are even happy to aid the council in the event they show signs that they’re committed to serving area scouts through resuming regular scouting activities at the camp,” Bradley concluded.
The Camp Fawcett Trustees are Victor Hilderbran, Homer Ray Smith, Ramon Castro, Dean Paret, and Brad Bradley.
A board member of the Southwest Council told us off the record that hopefully, this will be a distant memory soon and the focus can return to the scouts and not to lawsuits. The money spent on this lawsuit could have been used to bring the dining facility at Camp Fawcett back to code, the board member said.
The Trustees may still doubt that. They believe their lawsuit loss will lead to the Southwest Council selling the land to pay for operational expenses at the San Angelo office.
“Now the council can sell the camp and get the money they need,” Bradley said.
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