Two Boy Scouts camps in southeastern Massachusetts are being sold to pay for lawsuit settlements.
The Narragansett Council announced in May that its Executive Board decided to sell Camp Cachalot in South Carver, Massachusetts, to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to sell Camp Norse in Kingston, Massachusetts, to a separate nonprofit with plans to lease the property. Proceeds from the real estate sales will be part of the council’s $6.45 million contribution to a $2.6 billion sex abuse survivors compensation trust established as a result of a class-action lawsuit against the National Boy Scouts of America.
"Our council absolutely supports the establishment of the trust. We feel it’s the right thing to do and our board unanimously approved our support for that," said Narragansett Scout Executive and CEO Tim McCandles. "We absolutely want to make sure that trust is set and to make sure we are doing the right thing for people who in years passed suffered abuse and we want to make sure we do what we can to support that effort."
Hours of footage cataloged by the alumni association on their YouTube page show decades of scouts at Camp Cachalot which first opened in 1946.
"It’s fascinating to see the things that have and haven’t changed both in the scouting program and just in the physical property over the course of 75 years of operating the scout camp," said Dennis Wilkinson, historian for Camp Cachalot who was introduced to the camp as a Cub Scout and later joined the staff moving up the ranks as program director and scout master in the 80s and 90s. He says his favorite memories were the moments that brought people together.
"Whether that’s being paid to intentionally make a fool of myself in the campfire ring doing skits, some of the camp-wide games which involve things like building catapults to hurl sponges at your fellow campers, just really all of the friendships that you make during the course of spending a lot of time with the same group of people," said Wilkinson. "A lot of my closest friendships were made at camp or were made stronger at camp. I even met my wife there."
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He was among alumni celebrating the camp’s 75th anniversary when he learned the property would be sold.
"It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks. It hit a lot of us pretty hard but, we are trying to look forward. We are trying to figure out how to keep the family of people that have been the community at the camp together going forward."
Wilkinson said Cachalot canceled summer camp in 2017 because of declining enrollment.
In a letter to members, Narragansett Council leadership said that Camp Norse will continue without interruption, explaining they have similar arrangements leasing Camps Yawgoog, Champlin, Sandsland, Aquapaug, Buck Hill and Cub World from the same organization.
"Fortunately we are in a position where we are still able to offer several great camps locally in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for scouts and family to go to in spite of the fact that we had to make a difficult decision to sell Camp Cachalot but we’re please we were able to do so in partnership with the Commonwealth to make sure that property and land is a public domain and available for all people to enjoy," said McCandles.
The Narragansett Council ended its use of Camp Cachalot on May 31, 2022. Its final event was its annual Memorial Day Weekend event for families.