MAPLE FALLS - A group trying to keep Camp Black Mountain open said it needs help raising $60,000 and registering enough Boy Scouts to attend camp next summer.
Friends of Black Mountain has until Dec. 31 to do both under a deadline set in September by the executive board of the Mount Baker Council of Boy Scouts of America. That was when the council was grappling with how to end an annual operating loss of about $50,000 in recent years for the camp. Council members considered two options:
End operations, mothball Camp Black Mountain and prepare to sell part or all of the property.
Suspend summer camp and develop a plan for the property, due by May 31.
The board picked the second option, although members amended it to allow summer camp at the property on Silver Lake near Maple Falls for summer 2013, provided the Friends met the following conditions by Dec. 31:
Deposit $60,000 into a trust account to cover any potential loss while operating the camp in 2013.
Get at least 300 campers over three weeks - i.e., an average of 100 a week over three weeks - to sign up and commit to attending camp.
As of Friday, Dec. 14, donations totaled about $4,200 and the number of scouts registered for summer camp totaled 174, Brent Richards, president of the Friends of Black Mountain, said in an email interview.
Richards camped there as a boy and worked there as summer camp staff.
He said the Friends "have some preliminary commitments from some longtime donors to match donations in order to help us reach the $60,000 mark."
But those donors want a show of support.
"What those folks want to see is more from the 'rank and file.' We need to move the thermometer up at least to the halfway mark in order to see those matching funds," Richards said, referring to the graphic on the Friends website that tracks donations.
As for the Dec. 31 deadline, Richards said he hasn't heard of potential "wiggle room."
Duane Rhodes, spokesman for the Mount Baker Council, confirmed that.
"The council's board has not discussed any kind of an extension," he said.
That doesn't mean the board couldn't change its mind, he said, but there has been no discussion so far about doing so.
Meanwhile, developing a long-term plan for the property continues; proposals are due May 31.
"The Friends of Black Mountain, among other interested parties, will be working on plans that will demonstrate to the council that the camp can be managed and operated in such a way so as not to be a financial drain," Richards said. "We believe the camp has enough to offer, enough potential, to at least be self-sufficient."
Keeping the camp going this summer for scouts is important in the short- and long-term, according to Richards.
"Having camp open for summer camp 2013 is vital to our plans," Richards said. "Getting a camp up and running again after closure is not a mountain we want to climb."
Camp Black Mountain has served Western Washington since 1929, according to the website for the Mount Baker Council.
It is one of two camps operated by the council; the other is Camp Fire Mountain in Skagit County.
HOW TO HELP
To register for the Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Black Mountain and to donate to the effort to save the camp near Maple Falls, go to friendsofblackmtn.org.
The deadline for both is Dec. 31.
Reach KIE RELYEA at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2234.