San Angelo Boy Scouts Get Sued Over Control of Historic Scouting Camp
SAN ANGELO, TX — There are 173.45 acres of prime Hill Country ranchland that is the center of a brewing civil war between factions of the Texas Southwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The southern part of the council, called the Amistad District, isn’t convinced the northern part, the San Angelo-based Concho Valley District, shares a fair portion of its resources with its southern partners. Camp Fawcett has become the issue where the Boy Scouts down south are going to make their stand.
A group of five men serve as Camp Fawcett Trustees, all of them from or near the area served by the Amistad District, but the Trustees as an organization are not formerly part of the Boy Scouts or the TSWC. They oversee Camp Fawcett, while the Boy Scout camp is managed day-to-day at the BSA regional headquarters in San Angelo. The Trustees filed a lawsuit Tuesday demanding the Texas Southwest Council revert control and ownership of Camp Fawcett back to the original owners, the Camp Fawcett Trustees.
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. It was renamed the Texas Southwest Council about 8 years ago. Today, the jurisdiction of the TSWC extends from Uvalde to Eagle Pass to Fort Stockton and north to the Concho Valley.
In the late 1920s, scout leaders in a nine-county region centered upon Uvalde and Del Rio acquired land along the Nueces River, one mile north of Barksdale and 47 miles northwest of Uvalde on the old Rocksprings Highway, for $6,000 for the purpose of operating a campsite for regional scouting programs. The land’s physical characteristics were approved by the national Boy Scouts organization at the time. Scouting programs commenced the first year the land was obtained, in 1930.
Fawcett was the benefactor, and the camp was named in his honor. The land was placed under the direction of the Camp Fawcett Trustees and an agreement with the Concho Valley Council (now the TSWC) to operate it was made in 1943. In that agreement, according to the Trustee’s attorney Andrew Aelvoet of Boerne, there are provisions the founding Trustees placed in the conveyance deed that specifically set forth the purposes of Camp Fawcett. That was, the Camp would be used ostensibly for the benefit of the youth in the nine-county region around Uvalde and Del Rio.
A map of where Camp Fawcett is located:
The 1943 conveyance provides the Trustees with a right of reversion, or the ability to take the land back from the Texas Southwest Council, if the Camp’s purpose shifted.
The lawsuit, along with a second filing asserting the Trustees right to a reversion, was filed this week in Edwards County, the jurisdiction of where Camp Fawcett is located. The filings are intended to remove Camp Fawcett from the Boy Scouts’ control.
“Problems arose in the last year which made it increasingly clear that managing the camp for the benefit of area youth was not a priority of the Texas Southwest Council,” Aelvoet, the attorney for the Trustees, wrote in a press release. “The most recent of several incidents demonstrating the council’s lack of focus on Southwest Texas area youth was when the council denied scout troops’ requests to utilize the camp, in favor of leasing the property year-round to a group of hunters from the Houston area. The move effectively locked scouts out of the camp, except at times convenient to the hunters.”
Aelvoet elaborated in a phone interview Thursday. He said the conflict with the hunters leasing the land means that scouts cannot use Camp Fawcett unless they effectively receive permission from the lessees themselves (the hunters from Houston), not the TSWC.
Now that the TSWC is leasing Camp Fawcett for hunting, the Trustees do not care to accept a TSWC substitute for the Amistad District scouts, the use of Camp Sol Meyer near Menard.
“My clients are not anti-BSA, they are pro-BSA. Unfortunately the scouts in the region that this property serves are not from wealthy families. Making something available to them near San Angelo really isn’t useful to them because it’s not practical for them to travel to San Angelo,” Aelvoet said.
Aelvoet said the Trustees are willing to negotiate to settle the lawsuit, but their position will firmly remain that the property will revert back to the Trustees. The Trustees intend to continue to use the land for scouting and other youth activities that benefit youth living in the nine-county southern region. The scouts from all over the TSWC, including scouts in San Angelo, will also be invited to continue to use Camp Fawcett.
“We do not view that we are taking something away from the Boy Scouts in any jurisdiction,” Aelvoet said.
In San Angelo, the director of the TSWC, Scout Executive Devin D. Koehler issued a statement. “The Texas Southwest Council has proudly operated Camp Fawcett for more than 70 years, offering a strong Scouting program to this community where youth can discover nature, learn life skills, and become leaders. We look forward to continuing to serve our youth members and this community at Camp Fawcett for many years to come,” he stated.
Koehler said he has not been served the lawsuit and will not comment further until he examines it with counsel.
The Camp Fawcett Foundation, a separate entity than the Trustees, but where some of the Trustees also serve as board members, is a client of Hyde Interactive, the parent company of San Angelo LIVE!. We host and maintain the Foundation’s website, CampFawcett.org.
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