This page is dedicated to the spread of information regarding the string of fires that have ocurred at Owasippe Scout Reservation. OSR is 90 years old this year, and this recent rash of possible arson is a black mark on what should be an historic event. The more people that care about this landmark Boy Scout camp, and also the more people that are willing to help, the closer we get to a solution to this nagging problem. This can be accomplished through the spread of verifiable and valid information regarding these events.
E-mailing the proper Chicago Area Council representitives is a good way to show them that there are people who care. Adresses are listed below for several coucil executives as well as those for several influential people regarding Owasippe and its dealings. Any e-mail's sent should be simple, polite, and to the point. Many of us are angered by various factors resulting/contributing to the happenings here, but our concern should take priority over our other emotions as to have the greatest positive effect.
Any new information (which can be referenced or properly backed-up) that you feel should be posted should be sent to the Webmaster of this page, the address is at the bottom of this page. Thank You, and may our mutual efforts bring about and end to this destruction
CAMP CARLEN UPDATE, JUNE 19TH
Recent reports from those who have visited Carlen have given some clue to the extent of the logging there. Four of the twelve sites have been completely cleared of trees. The roads in the camp have been severely damaged, and debris is scattered all about. Whoever approved this venture has done more damage to the camp than the arson, removing the great woods campers come for to get some money out of it. Who is going to want to bring their boys to a wasteland? Or for that matter, to a scout camp that would allow such a thing to happen.
CAMP RENEKER RECOVERY, JUNE 16th
Some good news in regards to how the camp and their program are handling the disasters they've been forced to deal with for this summer can be found at the Camp Reneker homepage
This is the most recent news regarding all the fires at Owasippe Scout Reservation, courtesy of The Muskegon Chronicle
A federal agency has joined the investigation of a series of suspicious fires at the Owasippe Scout Reservation in Blue Lake Township.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms became involved at the request of the Boy Scout camp's owners, who said they are not satisfied with the efforts of the Muskegon County Fire Investigation Bureau.
A spokesman for the county bureau defended his group's work, saying it's difficult to collect evidence when buildings are burned to the ground. He also said the bureau, which is made up of fire investigators from several area departments, has only received vague leads, which will take time to investigate.
David Glotzbach, a Muskegon Township fire inspector and a team leader for the fire investigation bureau, said local investigators will welcome any assistance from the ATF. In fact, local investigators independently contacted the ATF about a year ago for help with the case, he said.
In the meantime, no determinations have been made about the cause of most of the fires or who might have started them, despite the work of the two investigative agencies.
"When (several of the buildings) burn as completely as they did, it's pretty hard to collect any evidence to support a theory," said Glotzbach. "Until we have hard evidence to back it up, it's hard to form an opinion that would hold up in court."
The 6000-acre Owasippe reservation, owned by the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has been hit by five fires causing approximately $1 million worth of damage over the past two years. One of the fires has been ruled an arson while four have been determined to be "suspicious" in nature.
Three fires were in dining halls or buildings that resembled dining halls, while two were at the home of the camp director. All the fires occurred when there were no Scouts at the camp.
The latest fire, which destroyed a dining hall May 15, occurred after the Chicago Area Council was notified that its fire insurance was being canceled. But the insurance is good through July 1, so the building was covered at the time of the blaze. The council is currently seeking another insurance policy.
Mike Marquardt, a Grand Rapids-based agent for the ATF, was recently at the Scout reservation to investigate the latest fire, which caused an estimated $400,000 damage. Marquardt could not be reached for comment.
Detectives from the county's fire bureau have been investigating the fires since the first blaze. Their limited success to this point led to frustration among Chicago Area Council officials, who responded by asking the ATF to investigate the latest fire.
"I would say that we were not satisfied," said Steve Adams, director of camping for the Chicago Area Council. "Obviously, we wanted the guilty parties caught and they have not been caught."
Scouts are due back on the reservation July 1, he said.
Investigators from the local bureau are interviewing people who may know something about the case and waiting for lab results from several pieces of evidence, Glotzbach said. In the meantime, they have to worry about the rest of their workload around the county, he said. Marquardt has been assisting the county bureau with its work on all five fires.
Indiana authorities, meanwhile, are continuing to investigate a $750,000 fire that destroyed a large building at another Boy Scout camp on Jan. 15 of this year.
The blaze at Camp Kikthawenund, northeast of Indianapolis, has been listed as an arson, said Alden Taylor, spokesman for the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office.
"We've been in contact with the Michigan state fire marshal's office," Taylor said. "I can't go into details, but we didn't see any resemblance between the two (cases)."
Taylor said there were no suspects as yet in the Indiana fire. The building that was destroyed was under construction and was nearly complete. It housed a 450-seat dining hall, conference room, showers and laundry facilities.
FURTHER DESTRUCTION TO OWASIPPE!!!
On top of the destruction caused by the arson, further crimes have been committed to this reservation by the hands of its own. Loggers, chosen to "selectively cut" trees in the Carlen area reportedly cut between 50%-75% of the tree growth out. This is shameful, in violation of current policies as well as ecological sense. Someone should be made to answer to this just the same as one would answer to any crime. Also, those of us who have left our hearts on these grounds should not allow this defamation to ever happen again, and should demand that those responsible be dismissed from their positions of "service". If anyone can offer good information regarding the logging company and who is accountable please send it to the webmaster.
The following is (to the best of my knowledge) an excerpt from The Muskegon Chronicle, Sunday, May 20, 2001, Editorial Section
Scout Fires Call for all-out Investigation
Scout Fires Call for all-out Investigation
The number of unexplained fires at the Owasippe Scout Reservation in Muskegon's Blue Lake Township is starting to look a lot like serial arson, and must be made a top investigative priority.
Since September 1999, the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America has been watching its camp buildings in northern Muskegon County go up in flames like campfires on a hillside.
Five fires, one definitely the work of an arsonist and three others suspicious in nature, have occurred there, the most recent being last Tuesday's destruction of a dining hall at Camp Carlen.
That might well have been the highly coincidental result of one or more lightning strikes during that dark and stormy night. But no one can say fur sure, nor can anyone predict when the next one will occur.
So far, there is a little evidence to go on; apparently whoever is behind this mysterious rash of fires is not so inept as to leave obvious signs of his or her identity behind. The scarcity of solid leads suggests the arsonist is too smart to brag about these deeds. We join the Chicago City Council's Anthony Gibbs in appealing to readers for their help. Anyone with information should call the sheriff's department at (231) 724-6351.
The Muskegon County Fire Investigation Unit still cannot point to the cause of these blazes, damage from which has now exceeded $1 million, which is more than enough reason for local authorities to call on all resources at their disposal.
Just what the real reason behind these fires is, no one in authority has been able to say so far. But it must be discovered, for a great deal of damage has been done by what could be a very focused, very dangerous individual, not just to property, but to Scouting itself.
And it may not be over yet.
NOTE: In order to spread the word to as many people as possible, this is the repreinted text from a mass emailing from Ron Kulak sent out on May 22nd, 2001. If you wish to comment or respond to the author, do not send mail to the webmaster, but to Mr. Kulak (address listed below).
I know that you undoubtedly share with me the frustration and despair resulting from the recent destruction of the Carlen dining hall last week Tuesday. While arson is suspected, it is not yet proven. One theory does exist that it could have been a lightning strike...but is not likely because of the intensity of the fire (during a driving rainstorm?) and the proximity of a construction crane near the dining hall which would have attracted any lightning strike. The series of events since all this began with the Blackhawk dining hall and continuing with the destruction and vandalism occurring at Reneker is, at best, sickening and troubling to us who have worked on staff and to those who want to bring their Scouts to Owasippe
What needs to happen is for the Chicago Area Council to deal with this with a large degree of urgency and to establish a plan of action to rebuild the camp similiar to what was adopted by the Indianapolic Council and the Cincinnati Council when they had buildings torn down. For anything constructive to happen, the action must be dictated and prioritized by the current council board of directors. They are only spoon fed information by the council executive and professional staff and who knows if all the details are presented or if they are sugar-coated. The board members are, unfortunately, not in most of our social and e-mail circles. What is needed is a grass-roots effort to bring to their attention the gravity of the matter and to insist that they take immediate action to do what is necessary to:
Insurance proceeds from the ranger's home burning down were allegedly absorbed into council operating funds with no promise to rebuild the ranger residence or to use it for the benefit of the camp. Curious, huh? Questions that remain....Why has the Council not chosen to reveal all the details of the prior fires and the resulting investigations to the volunteer Scouters and to the camp staff? Why hasn't the Council rallied its volunteers and inspired its units and corporate constituency to join in a capital campaign drive to rebuild the camp (Selfish about wanting available resources to support payroll???)? Why were fire pictures asked to be removed from the Camp Reneker web site? Why haven't they more closely monitored the investigation from local authorities? Why hasn't their been more involvement from federal authorities? Why has this happened now after 90 years of operation...have we become bad neighbors to our friends in the White Lake Area or have we done some injustice to some employee??? Why was the Reneker fire site cleaned up so quickly last Fall? I'm sure you have your own questions as well amidst this backdrop of destruction such as "Why haven't staff contracts been sent out at this late date?" and "Why haven't Camp Carlen leaders been contacted and assured that operations will continue as planned?"
At this point and for other reasons, the stewardship and the competency of the current Council professional staff hierarchy should be challenged by any who care about the integrity of Scouting and the preservation of our 90-year old Owasippe jewel. I implore you to take the time to write or e-mail the current Council President, Lewis B. Greenblatt, and/or his Vice-President of Program, George Walper with your concerns, fears and ideas. Perhaps, when hundreds of letters get dropped on their desk, they too will understand how we all feel and how important this is to get resolved. It takes a whole village to raise a camp! Also, bring this up in roundtable discussions and get the support of your local District Chairman and District Commissioner as well as all of the Charted Institutional Reps who have a voice at the council board level. SPREAD THE WORD TO OTHERS NOT ON THIS LIST!!!! If others wish to respond also to me, I will be sure to forward your concerns and ideas to Ron Derby and to Chauncey and to share them with others as a kind of bulletin board. It has been said that "If you are not part of the solution, you are indeed part of the problem". Please take time to write and vent, ASAP!
This is a recently taken photograph of the remains of the Carlen dining hall. The dining hall could easily accomodate all of the staff, leaders, and boy scouts for all their meals. This dining hall was also used for banquets involving all the staff of the reservation and their families. Keep in mind the scale of this loss when looking at the ashes here.
Finally, this is just one of a series of pictures taken just after the fire at Reneker Lodge. To anyone who has stayed at Reneker, the importance of their lodge to program and every day activity is well known. To others, seeing the burned remains should serve as a reality check of sorts, making real what has been written about.