While efforts to save a Boy Scouts camp in Ovid fell short, local campers are devastated by the announced sale.
The 300-acre property along Seneca Lake is for sale, according to the Seneca Waterways Council. The camp includes waterfront access, hiking trails, and campsites with tents and lean-tos.
“A lot of my memories are right here in this space, this parade field,” said Matt Uttaro, who is reminiscing about his time as a young camper at Babcock-Hovey BSA Camp in Ovid.
“I’ve been coming to this camp for over a decade now. The best memories I have here is just being in the dining hall during meals with people and going out on the lake in a speed boat. There’s a lot of great things that I don’t think I would have been able to do; I’ve never been on a boat outside of this camp.”
Camp Babcock-Hovey to be sold, Scouting community reacts (video)
Uttaro and his friends are processing the news that this land is being put on the market for sale and its future is uncertain.
“To be 100% honest it’s been pretty emotionally hard,” he continued. “This camp easily made me who I am.”
“I’m disappointed with the camp being sold and also just sad,” added former camper Noah Ingalls. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do without this place.”
“Camp Babcock-Hovey is more than just a home,” said Camp Properties Committee Chairman, Matthew Crance. “It’s a family. And it’s a family that is hurting right now with the potential sale of this.”
One of the people tasked with making the decision is Stephen Hoitt, executive director of the Seneca Waterways Council. That’s the local affiliate of Boy Scouts of America. As BSA settles lawsuits brought through claims of sexual assault and moves through bankruptcy local affiliates like Seneca Waterways has a role.
Hoitt explained that sub-organizations like his have the opportunity to settle the bankruptcy, which in his region comes with an $8,000,000 price tag.
“For us, the only real way for us to participate is to sell an asset,” Hoitt said.
The asset that made sense to put on the market, he says, is Camp Babcock-Hovey. Hoitt said the multi-million dollar obligation to participate in the bankruptcy was necessary to support child abuse victims dating back to 1938.
“All of the alumni, we just absolutely adore that property and so sadly, nobody wants to get rid of the camps because they are absolute gems and it’s a beautiful resource,” he added. “But we’re also obligated to what we do to help support victims so we want to do something there that is appropriate as well.”
Through it all, Uttaro says, he still has hope that his childhood home away from home will be preserved, if whoever ends up buying it has a similar vision.
“A donor buys it and leases it to scouting at a low rate and we can still come back and operate this as a scout camp, that’s the best-case scenario I’m seeing right now.”
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].