SAN ANGELO, TX — At issue was how Camp Fawcett was being utilized by the Texas Southwest Council (TSWC), the Scouts USA organization in San Angelo that oversees both the southern camp along the Nueces River as well as Camp Sol Meyer located near Menard.
A group of Del Rio and Uvalde men sued the TSWC as trustees of the Camp Fawcett Foundation demanding that the TSWC surrender title to the Camp Fawcett land since the camp was not available year round for scouting activities for Uvalde and Del Rio scouts. The TSWC had leased the land to hunters during hunting season that made the camp off limits.
The TSWC argued, and the lower court agreed, that the Trustees had no claim to the title of the property, and no standing. The appeals court reversed those decisions with three determinations:
- The 4th Court ruled there is a condition subsequent (also called a reversionary clause) on Camp Fawcett held by the Trustees.
- The 4th Court ruled that the Trustees do exist, or affirmed that there are Camp Fawcett Trustees.
- The 4th Court did not agree that the hunting leases violated the original condition of use by the TSWC of Camp Fawcett. The court’s reason being that scouting activities were held while the hunting leases were in effect. The court learned that southern troops held a Frontiers Day when the hunting leases were in effect, for example. In court hearings, it was also learned that the hunting lease gave the hunters unfettered access to Camp Fawcett including exclusive rights to hunting and fishing. The lessors had to give approval to any scout to be allowed to fish, for example. The council later amended the hunting lease to correct this. The plaintiff’s viewed this as an admission of guilt on part of the TSWC in not serving youth first, as the Fawcett deeds dictate.
A day at the Nueces River at Camp Fawcett
The 4th Court left the issue back where it all started before the lawsuit was filed. The TSWC continues to run Camp Fawcett while the Fawcett Trustees have standing in how the camp is operated. But the court did not rule leasing the 173.45 acres located north of Uvalde to hunters violated the terms of TSWC’s deeded use of the land.
The TSWC stated in a later press release that the Fawcett Trustees were attempting to grab the valuable land for their own benefit, an accusation the Trustees vehemently deny.
According to Devin Koehler, Scout Executive who heads the TSWC, the Trustees were, “seeking possession of Camp Fawcett and the oil and gas rights to the property.” It sounded like a veiled accusation that the Trustees were in it for the money for themselves.
Why would a group of scouting volunteers, which is how Trustees describe themselves, want to involve a cash-strapped Boys Scout council in a costly lawsuit?
According to Brad Bradley, who is one of the Fawcett Trustees, “We (Trustees) would have never brought this suit had the council allowed the use of Camp Fawcett for volunteers to hold events, rather than finding non-valid excuses for non-use.
“We exerted great effort in dealing with the council, attempted to be solution driven, in order to find remedies to issues, rather than problems, for the benefit of the youth served.
“In an attempt to resolve issues of blocked camp use, lack of maintenance, and etc. Joe Ray Jones and I (on behalf of the Trustees) met with then council President Michael Jenike and the Scout Executive in 2015 and a new council President and the Scout Executive in 2016 to see if the council would agree to accept some monetary amount to walk away from Camp Fawcett. The Trustees were considering a 6 figure amount, to no avail.
“Out of frustration we filed legal action in 2017,” Bradley said.
In the 4th Court’s decision, the Court ruled that the TSWC, “presented conclusive evidence that it did not cease managing and controlling Camp Fawcett for the benefit of area Boy Scouts.” The Court of Appeals also disregarded plaintiffs’ allegations that the camp had fallen in disrepair stating, “no reasonable person could conclude that [the Council] failed to maintain Camp Fawcett to the extent that it is no longer appropriate for use by scouts.”
As for the Fawcett Trustees, they weren’t given much to appeal by the 4th Court other than to continue to argue the camp isn’t accessible year round or the maintenance is subpar, should the group decide to carry forth their case to the Texas Supreme Court.
Koehler, speaking for the defendants, hoped that the Council could return its focus to serving the scouts instead of having to use its limited time and financial resources on needless litigation and appeals.
More on the Camp Fawcett lawsuit:
- San Angelo Boy Scouts Get Sued Over Control of Historic Scouting Camp
- San Angelo Boy Scouts Win Court Battle Over Ownership of Camp Fawcett
Disclaimer: The author's company, Hyde Interactive, volunteers web hosting services for the Camp Fawcett website, campfawcett.org.