It's a 'sham' — St. Thomas Times-Journal

By Ian McCallum
St. Thomas Times-Journal, September 10, 2004.

Elgin Scout leaders are becoming increasingly frustrated with the "sham" process they face in an effort to overturn a Scouts Canada property review committee decision to close Camp Timken.

Barely able to contain her anger, Karen Palmer, one of five local leaders working on a business plan to justify Camp Timken's continued operation, compares the exercise to "being led down the garden path." Palmer, who resigned as area commissioner in January, charges members of the Tri-Shores Council of Scouts Canada in London, Ont., are "changing the rules" following an Aug. 26 appeals hearing during which Elgin leaders were given until Sept. 30 to formulate a program plan for the 65-acre (26.3 hectare) campground located near Iona.

"As far as I'm concerned you don't offer to play a game, get acceptance to play and then during the game start introducing all kinds of rules that aren't agreed upon before the game started."

What has raised the ire of local Scouters is a memo from Grant Ferron, Scouts Canada executive director for southwestern Ontario, stating the Camp Timken five-year business plan "will be vetted" by the Tri-Shores Council before being passed on to senior Scouts Canada officials for consideration.

And Elgin leaders must use paid Tri-Shores Council staff and follow their business plan "template" when completing the Camp Timken program outline.

"In other words," explains Elgin leader Norm Toogood, "we should include the very people who initiated the property review process and put Camp Timken on the list to be sold. Does this make any sense at all? We are in a truly no-win situation."

Toogood refers to Ferron's actions as "circling the wagons against us."

"I, for one, think it's high time to end the sham business plan and appeal process."

But Palmer told the Times-Journal Thursday the five Elgin leaders will meet again this Wednesday to complete a draft copy of the business plan which may or may not incorporate the Tri-Shores Council "template."


"We have to stay focused," stressed Palmer, "and submit our business plan by Sept. 30 as agreed to in the (Aug. 26) appeal hearing."

She indicated the program plan will outline "how we will market the camp and how we will use it to increase growth in membership."

The camp was purchased in 1975 by the Elgin District Boy Scouts with the assistance of a $35,000 grant from Canadian Timken Ltd., through its Maple Leaf Foundation.

Palmer indicated Elgin leaders have already approached outside groups to consider Camp Timken as an environmental "classroom."

"We have approached Duncan Sinclair who heads the environmental studies program at East Elgin Secondary School and he's willing to use the camp for program studies. And we're going to be in touch with Ducks Unlimited who have an outdoor classroom program."

Camp Timken manager Norm Carsons told the Times-Journal that should the program plan be rejected by Scouts Canada, it likely would precipitate legal action by Elgin leaders.

"If we come up with a plan by Sept. 30 and they (Scouts Canada) turn it down, by Oct. 6 we could still have the notice of pending litigation in there."