2 of 3 P.E.I. scout camps shut down

Falling membership numbers have led to the closure of two of P.E.I.'s three scout camps.
Camp Buchan is the only Island scout camp on the water. ((CBC))

Falling membership numbers have led two of P.E.I.'s three scout camps to close.

The western P.E.I. Camp Kildare was shut down in August, and Camp Buchan in eastern P.E.I. had its last event over the weekend. That leaves only Camp Riverdale, in the central part of the province.

Ted Cross, the provincial commissioner for Scouts Canada, told CBC News on Friday there were more than 1,000 scouts on P.E.I. just 10 years ago. Now there are about 300, and that's not enough to keep three camps running.

"In the 1970s there was lots of money around, lots of membership, economy was good, so we ended up with three camps," said Cross.

"Why would we have three camps on Prince Edward Island? We can barely support one."

Cross said Riverdale was chosen to stay open because it doesn't lose money like the other two.

Scouting history

The decision to close the camps has met with some controversy in the Island's scouting movement, particularly the decision to close Camp Buchan, the only one of the three that is on the water.

Riverdale has serious weaknesses as a summer camp, says Scout leader Chris Spenceley.

"Prince Edward Island is an island, and here we are, we're going be one group, one province, that doesn't have a beachfront for its scouting program? I think it's the wrong thing," said Scouts Council member Waldron McDonald.

"Once this happens and it's over with, we're not getting this property back again. It's gone, and that'll be the end of it."

Scout leader Chris Spenceley is also sorry to see Camp Buchan go, which has a 70-year history as a Scout camp.

"Riverdale, which is the one that they plan to keep open, it's in the middle of the woods. It's a great winter camp, but in the summer time there's no beach, and it's just thick with flies," said Spenceley.

"There's been so much scouting history on P.E.I. at [Camp Buchan], and it's a very good place."

Scouting Canada has not decided if or when it will put Kildare and Buchan up for sale. Some members are hopeful they'll still have time to convince management to change its mind and to save Camp Buchan.