The volunteers who maintain Camp Stone hope to convey to the communtity that the park is closed by order of Scouts Canada due to COVID-19. They are having issues with seeing trespassing, litter, and parking at their gate access.
Gene McIvor, the property manager of Camp Stone, has been in his current role for around 10 years, but has been volunteering as an adult for over 30.
Camp Stone is 125 acres of wilderness camp located within Kimberley City Limits, just past the entrance to Riverside Campground. Scouts in Kimberley first started using the property in around 1929, back when it was owned by Cominco.
Later, it was owned by Teck, and Scouts Canada leased the property from them.
“We were leasing it and then when Teck was pulling up stakes, we had numerous conversations with them and they agreed to donate the site to us, that would have been around 2001,” explained McIvor. “So we took ownership of it.”
McIvor added that First Kimberley Group Scouts, as a group of volunteers, are not legally owners of any property, so Camp Stone, as well as Resker Hall in Marysville, are owned by Scouts Canada Properties Trust BC/Yukon, a holding company.
“We, however, are responsible for all aspects of management and upkeep and everything else,” McIvor said, adding that there is indeed a great deal of work being done there, with longtime Scout volunteer Ed Purves handling much of the upkeep in recent years.
Camp Stone is a heavily-forested wilderness camp with minimal development; basically just one small cabin, a longhouse with a kitchen, a large fire pit and a number of outhouses. During regular operation, before the pandemic, it was used for weekly program meetings for Scouting people and camping.
It has hosted very large camps, up to as many as 400 to 500 kids at a time, according to McIvor.
“We offset our expenses by renting these facilities out,” McIvor said. “So, Camp Stone in particular, it’s booked every weekend all summer, every summer, typically a year in advance. For such things as family reunions, weddings that sort of thing, which is our primary source of income to keep that place alive.”
Both Camp Stone and Resker Hall have been closed since March 15 by order of Scouts Canada.
“They remain shut, and will remain shut, for the foreseeable future,” McIvor said. “We don’t believe we’ll be into either the hall or Camp Stone at least until the new year and quite likely longer.”
McIvor goes down to the camp every three days to inspect it for insurance purposes. He said that some people simply walk through the camp to go for a walk, which under their current directive is forbidden, but the main reason people go through there is for access to the river.
“People like to go down there and sun and swim and, hey, we understand that, however trespass is trespass,” he said.
On his trips to the camp, McIvor has been picking up litter, dog excrement and cigarette butts. He said he’s not seen any vandalism this year, but over the course of the many decades the camp has existed, they have encountered it. Their biggest concern currently is the risk of fire.
McIvor already had no-trespassing sign up at the gate, and went back to put up a bigger sign saying that park is closed by order of Scouts Canada, but McIvor said that, “people walk right past those signs like they’re invisible.”
He’s also seen, as recently as two days prior to the time of writing, vehicles parked at the pullouts located at the eastern and western corners of their property of the St. Mary River Road.
“Where people are parking there’s no other reason for them to be there unless they’re going down through Camp Stone, there’s nothing else within walking distance,” he said.
McIvor has spoken with the RCMP and they told him that he should by all means collect all the vehicle and licence plate information to send on to them. He said that while they’re not going to charge up there and arrest anyone, the RCMP is prepared to contact offenders to remind them that they need to stay out of there.
“The difficulty of it, and I understand, is people want to get to the river. We fully understand that, but we’re concerned about fire and we’re concerned about our liability insurance if we have people. Insurance is a massive, massive, expense for us. We have extensive property management protocols that we are expected to enforce and report upon.”
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.