The Camp Bomazeen entrance on Horse Point Road in Belgrade on July 17, 2020. A day earlier, the board of the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to sell the 75-year-old property along Great Pond. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

A landmark Belgrade camp that is being sold to save the regional scouting organization from going broke may go to a new owner who will allow Scouts to continue to use at least some of the Great Pond property.

Officials of the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which oversees groups in southern and central Maine, voted last July to sell the 76-year-old Camp Bomazeen in Belgrade. Generations have learned about Boy Scouts and life in the outdoors at the camp. The council’s vote came after an emergency task force recommended the property sale as a way to raise money to help address the council’s dire financial situation.

Matt Klutzaritz, Scout executive and CEO of the Raymond-based Pine Tree Council, said the council is currently working with a buyer to finalize the sale of the property. That potential buyer, whom he declined to name, would allow some use by the Scouts on at least some of the property, Klutzaritz said.

“They would still allow some Scouting activity,” Klutzaritz said. He said the buyer is “an admirer of Scouts, they like the Scouting program, and they’ve talked to us about how they want to keep parts of the property available for Scouting.”

Central Maine Scouts with ties to Camp Bomazeen said while they’d still prefer the camp remain in the hands of the Scouts, if it must be sold, the unfolding arrangement is preferable.

“I’ll take part of a camp, versus no camp,” said Chuck Mahaleris, of Augusta, who maintains the history of Camp Bomazeen and whose son attended the camp as a Cub Scout. “Nobody wants to see a camp sold, because once they’re gone, they’re probably gone forever. It won’t be the same camp, which is sad. But the idea (the potential new owner) is letting Scouts continue to use it is probably the best we’re going to get.”

Klutzaritz said the deal to sell the property has not closed yet and he wasn’t sure when it might. In a recent newsletter for members, council officials said they anticipate the deal could close sometime in the first quarter of the year noting, “This arrangement is a good solution to a difficult situation.”

The situation the sale is meant to help address is the council’s precarious financial position. Klutzaritz said in July if they did not raise some cash soon, the council could run out of money within a matter of months. The council hoped to raise enough funds from the sale to pay down its debt and mortgage on other council properties, and provide cash flow to the organization, and also sought to sell it to an entity that would allow the Scouts at least some use of the property.

They said they didn’t want to sell Camp Bomazeen, but it is necessary in order to save Scouting in central and southern Maine.

The sprawling property off Horse Point Road, with beachfront on Great Pond, is exempt from paying property taxes for now because it is owned by a nonprofit organization.The property is assessed by the town of Belgrade at just under $1 million.

Klutzaritz, who has been CEO of the organization since last January, said the council has debt going back years, including for construction of a new dining hall at Camp Hinds in Raymond. The organization’s financial crisis was worsened, of course, by the coronavirus pandemic, which has limited Scout activities and made fundraising a challenge due to the difficulty of not being able to interact with people directly.

He said last week the organization has cut staffing at its headquarters and received some donations that have helped the organization stay afloat while the Bomazeen sale is pending.

The council has about 4,000 kids in its Scouting programs across Maine.

Staff and Scouts practice archery during a previous season at Camp Bomazeen in Belgrade. Photo courtesy of Virginia Parker

Klutzaritz said the Pine Tree Council is planning for a full summer of activity, including use of its other camps, but also has a plan B in mind for a lower level of activities should the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions meant to prevent its spread require that activities be limited.

He said they’re also talking with volunteers about running some Scouting programs at Camp Bomazeen this summer.

Last year was also Camp Bomazeen’s 75th anniversary year. Bomazeen (named after the Native American chief of the Norridgewock band of Abenaki) opened in 1945 on 200 acres, but previous land sales have reduced its current size to about 100 acres.

Numerous area residents have shared photos and memories of Camp Bomazeen, and have kept tabs on current happenings, on a Facebook page, Friends of Bomazeen. They include Oakland Scout Zachary LeHay, who attended Camp Bomazeen and previously designed a patch for Scouts. LeHay said his favorite thing about  the camp was all the activities, including camping both in the summer and winter.

The property, according to Mahaleris, was given to the Scouts by Dr. George Averill, who envisioned it as a place for young people to get out of the cities of Augusta, Waterville and Skowhegan and discover the grandeur of nature.

Over the years, the property hosted Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Venturers who camped there. In December 2019, well before the coronavirus hit the U.S., organizers said in a news release they planned, in the summer of 2020, to celebrate the camp’s anniversary, and the skills learned and lifelong friendships made there. Scouting experiences there have included classic activities such as archery, basketweaving, swimming at the waterfront, plus more modern specialized instruction such on welding, computers and robotics.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: