Michigan Crossroads Council Participation
August 15, 2019: This is a survey by the Friends of Silver Trails. To date, the Michigan Crossroads Council has sold 6 of 16 scout camps serving the Lower Peninsula of Michigan since the 2012 consolidation. The latest is Paul Bunyan Scout Reservation near Rose City, sold on August 12, 2019. Two more camps are for sale including Lost Lake Scout Reservation near Farwell and Silver Trails Scout Reservation near Jeddo. Two other camps, Greilick and Kiwanis, were given back to the Rotary Club of Traverse City and the Kiwanis Club of Lansing respectively. Camp Rotary near Clare is owned by the local Rotary Club. That leaves just 5 of 16 original camps currently owned by the Michigan Crossroads Council, even though the stated purpose of the consolidation was not about selling camps.

Sometime in late spring or early summer of 2019, the Michigan Crossroads Council signed a binding agreement to sell Silver Trails Scout Reservation to AMC Mid Michigan Materials for sand and gravel mining. This will be, by far, the most destructive sale of any of the Michigan scout camps. The sale is pending the results of core samples to test for gravel, but we have little doubt that significant gravel deposits will be found. The sale price is said to be $1.8 million dollars.

The financial condition of the Michigan Crossroads Council is unclear, but based on public information and a recent Detroit Free Press article, the council lost about $5.5 million dollars from 2013 through 2017. At the same time, they took in about $5 million dollars in camp sale revenue. There is conflicting information as to how this camp sale revenue is allocated. The council says that it is deposited in a capital fund for the maintenance and improvement of other camps. However, the Detroit Free Press article said that a portion of this revenue is being used to pay down debt.

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/08/04/boy-scouts-michigan-campgrounds/1868668001/

Executive compensation in the Michigan Crossroads Council, and Boy Scouts of America in general, is exceedingly high. Based on their 2017 Michigan tax return, executive compensation in the council ranged from a low of about $139,000 to a high of about $225,000. Based on their 2018 annual report, the council took in less than $15 million dollars in revenue, but spent over $15 million dollars. Of their total expense, 59% was spent just on employee compensation. The numbers are similar for previous years. To put this in perspective, the sale of Silver Trails Scout Reservation at $1.8 million dollars would provide council employee compensation for less than 3 months.

The financial situation with Silver Trails in the years since the 2012 consolidation has also been somewhat unclear because the public has not been able to review details, the accounting for camps is a complicated mix of material and program expenditures, and the Michigan Crossroads Council has controlled use of and investment in Silver Trails for 7 years. What is clear, is that the former Blue Water Council had an endowment fund of at least $1.5 million dollars, a portion of which was dedicated to Silver Trails. This fund was taken by the Michigan Crossroads Council upon consolidation in 2012 and co-mingled with other funds. The fund is never mentioned by the council when they talk about alleged financial deficits for Silver Trails. Whether all or a portion of the endowment fund was dedicated to Silver Trails is beside the point. Annual dividends from all of that money could have been used to off-set the costs of running Silver Trails. Council statements about the condition of buildings at Silver Trails have been exaggerated. Most are in very good condition. The Rotary Lodge has a new metal roof and working kitchen. The George Flott Nature Lodge has a relatively new roof. To our knowledge, other infrastructure is in good operating condition.

On top of all of this, the promises of the 2012 consolidation have not been fulfilled in our opinion, those being increased membership, more efficient delivery of the Scouting program, better program, and increased assistance to units. Total youth participation declined by about 7,000 from 2014 through 2018. The total number of Scouts declined by about 9,000 and total adult participation declined by about 2,000 to 3,000 during the same period. There are now far more paid employees in the Michigan Crossroads Council than there were in the former 9 councils of the Lower Peninsula, taking over half of the total council income in salaries and other compensation. Most unit leaders we have spoken with have not experienced significantly improved program or improved assistance to their units. The sale of Silver Trails has clearly demonstrated the lack of basic communication and transparency in the Michigan Crossroads Council.

The Friends of Silver Trails is not expecting that the Michigan Crossroads Council will retain ownership of Silver Trails Scout Reservation. We understand that there have been membership and financial difficulties in the Boy Scouts of America in recent years, and particularly in Michigan. However, we believe that much of this difficulty has been created by the Michigan Crossroads Council itself and failure of the consolidation plan. The Michigan Crossroads Council has had 7 years to prove itself, the last 4 or 5 years under favorable economic conditions. Our main contention with the council is how they have sought to sell Silver Trails. They did not notify St. Clair County, Grant Township, a land conservancy, or any other prospective buyer that could have purchased Silver Trails and kept it as a camp or park with one of the most beautiful natural settings in the region. Instead, Silver Trails was offered only to a gravel company with no forewarning.

For these and other reasons, the Friends of Silver Trails is seeking your input on participation in the Michigan Crossroads Council. Section 1 of this survey is for current BSA members only. Section 2 is for former BSA members and the general public. E-mail addresses are required in order to verify whether multiple responses have been submitted. E-mail addresses and individual survey responses are known only to the form administrator. We may use your e-mail address to update you about Silver Trails and associated events. If you wish not to be contacted, please let us know in your comments. Your email address, name, and individual response will not be intentionally revealed or distributed. You cannot add information or otherwise edit responses to the survey after you have submitted it. If you want to change your responses, you will need to submit a completely new survey. When we see duplicate surveys from the same e-mail address, we will contact you to determine which version you want us to keep. If you have any questions or need assistance, e-mail: rlester1967@sbcglobal.net . For additional information, see the Friends of Silver Trails Facebook page and http://www.SaveSilverTrails.info . Thank you.
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Section 1 - Current BSA Members Only
Please complete this section only if you are a currently registered member of the Boy Scouts of America. If you are a former member of the BSA or never have been a member, please skip to Section 2 of this survey.
Are you a Cub, Webelo, Scout, Venturer, Explorer, adult Scouter, or other Scouting member?
Are you currently registered in the Michigan Crossroads Council?
Are you currently registered in the Water and Woods Field Service Council?
If you answered "No" to the previous two questions, which council and field service council are you registered in?
Your answer
Will you register in the Michigan Crossroads Council in 2020?
Will you register with the Boy Scouts of America in 2020?
Are you considering membership in another scout-type organization such as Trail Life USA, Campfire, Girl Scouts, or similar?
If you answered "Yes" or "Maybe" to the previous question, which organization will you join or are you considering?
Your answer
Are you planning to camp at a Michigan Crossroads Council camp in 2020 and if so, what type of camping will you do?
If you answered "No" or "Maybe" to the previous question, where will you camp? Please explain why.
Your answer
Will you buy any BSA fundraising products in 2020?
Will you contribute to Friends of Scouting in 2020?
If you answered "No" or "Maybe" to the previous two questions, please explain why.
Your answer
Do you believe that your unit receives better service from the Michigan Crossroads Council now as compared to before the 2012 consolidation?
Have you noticed any improvement in unit service from the Michigan Crossroads Council in recent years?
Has membership in your unit increased, decreased, or remained stable in recent years?
Has participation in your unit camping and other activities increased, decreased, or remained stable in recent years?
Have you experienced program improvements in your unit that you believe are due to the Michigan Crossroads Council?
Please describe any changes in unit service, membership, participation, or program that you believe are due to the Michigan Crossroads Council.
Your answer
Did you vote in the 2012 consolidation that created the Michigan Crossroads Council and how did you vote?
Did you otherwise participate in the 2012 consolidation process that created the Michigan Crossroads Council and if so, how?
Your answer
Regardless of whether you participated in the 2012 consolidation, if you could vote now on returning to the original councils or on a reorganization of the Michigan Crossroads Council, how would you vote?
What is your opinion on the sale of Silver Trails Scout Reservation to a gravel company?
Your answer
What is your opinion on the sale of other Michigan Scout camps?
Your answer
Please share any other comments.
Your answer
Considering camp sales and other problems in the Michigan Crossroads Council, which of the following actions are you likely to take?
Are you willing to provide your name and/or unit number below? Doing so will help us identify legitimate responses to this survey.
Your answer
Section 2 - Former BSA Members and the General Public
Please complete this section of the survey only if you are a former member of the Boy Scouts of America (not currently registered) or never have been a member of the BSA. If you already completed Section 1 of this survey, please do not complete this section.
If you are not currently a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America, were you ever?
If you were formerly registered in the BSA, were you a Cub, Webelo, Scout, Venturer, Explorer, adult Scouter, or other Scouting member? Please select below.
Did you vote in the 2012 consolidation that created the Michigan Crossroads Council and how did you vote?
Did you otherwise participate in the 2012 consolidation process that created the Michigan Crossroads Council and if so, how?
Your answer
Regardless of whether you participated in the 2012 consolidation, if you could vote now on returning to the original councils or on a reorganization of the Michigan Crossroads Council, how would you vote?
What is your opinion on the sale of Silver Trails Scout Reservation to a gravel company?
Your answer
What is your opinion on the sale of other Michigan Scout camps?
Your answer
Please share any other comments.
Your answer
Considering camp sales and other problems in the Michigan Crossroads Council, which of the following actions are you likely to take?
Are you willing to provide your name and/or former unit number below? Doing so will help us identify legitimate responses to this survey.
Your answer
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