In the Reuters special report (link above), titled “A $439 million camp adds to Boy Scouts money crunch” we learn that the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, a 10,600 acre camp in West Virginia has been the subject of substantial cost overruns.
As the article states “The Summit is more than the ultimate Scout camp…[having] more than five miles of zip lines, a whitewater-rafting circuit, a 120-foot tree house and a stadium for 85,000 people.” Unfortunately, while it was “Initially budgeted at $176 million through 2013, the Summit’s cost is now estimated to reach at least $350 million by the end of this year and $439 million by the end of 2015, according to Scouts documents reviewed by Reuters.”
The article continues to paint a gloomy picture by offering the following statements:
The Scouts’ efforts to pay for the Summit are off target, too. Internal financial updates show that the Scouts’ national organization, based in Irving, Texas, was $108 million behind its capital-raising goal for the Summit as of the end of March. That was 32 percent shy of its projection of $342.6 million.
By 2015, cumulative spending is projected to reach $439 million, according to internal records seen by Reuters. That is more than the organization’s current $274 million endowment. To cover construction costs, the memo shows, the Boy Scouts last year more than doubled their borrowings for the project. The Boy Scouts added $175 million in new conduit-bond debt last year to a pair of existing issues worth $100 million – bringing total Summit borrowing to $275 million. The Scouts also increased a line of bank credit to $75 million from $50 million. The bonds were bought by JPMorgan Chase, which organized the deal, provided the credit line and still owns the debt today. The bank declined to comment.
Still, spending has grown faster than revenue. The nonprofit’s financial statements show that revenue from membership fees and product sales grew 21 percent from 2003 to 2012, to $229 million. But spending on salaries, insurance, and programs nearly doubled in the same period, to $212 million.
“It’s like spending your IRA to pay your bills, because you don’t have a job anymore,” said John Harbison, a former president of the Los Angeles Council. “That’s obviously not a sustainable model, and we won’t be able to do that for long.”
As of today (July 15, 2013), the 2013 National Jamboree launches at the Summit Reserve. It promises to be a spectacular event.
Perhaps we’ll look back in a decade and realize that this Jambo was the zenith of BSA’s history as it slowly unravels as an organization, or we may recall a watershed moment when BSA pulled itself together for the long-haul of the next 100 years.