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New Camp Trexler owner to use the land for veterans' programs

Boy Scouts statue
L.M. Otero
A statue outside the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Officials with the Minsi Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America reached an agreement to sell Trexler Scout Reservation to the Trexler Veterans Initiative for $7.8 million, according to a letter from senior council officials sent Thursday.

  • The Minsi Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America agreed to sell its Camp Trexler property for $7.8 million
  • The buyer, the Trexler Veterans Initiative, plans to lease the property to a nonprofit aimed at reducing veteran suicides
  • The sale will help the council cover its part of a national settlement for victims of abuse in Scouting programs

The Veterans Initiative plans to lease the camp, located in Polk Township, to the nonprofit Valor Clinic Foundation for programs to reduce suicides among veterans.

“It's unfortunate we have to sell a camp, no doubt about that,” said Rick Christ, the council’s chief executive. “I think we have the second best scenario possible, where we can still utilize it, the land is preserved, and we're helping military veterans.”

Selling the property will help Minsi Trails Council cover their $2.6 million portion of a multi-billion-dollar national settlement with survivors of sexual abuse in the scouting programs. Christ said remaining funds from the sale could impact every scout in the council.

The council will still be able to rent facilities there on weekends for programming.

To select a buyer, the council’s real estate committee looked for an organization that intends to maintain the camp in a natural state, allow future access to Scouting programs, and close on the sale quickly.

The Veterans Initiative submitted the second-highest bid, according to Christ, and ticked all of those boxes.

“We're happy that we are able to maybe align with what some of the values General Trexler may have wanted for the property,” he said.

Help for veterans

Anonymous benefactors with a history of land preservation work founded the Trexler Veterans Initiative earlier this month, in order to give Valor access to the property. Once planned conservation easements are in place, Valor Clinic CEO Mark Baylis said, the initiative will transfer ownership of the property to his organization directly.

Valor Clinic will use the camp for their flagship Veterans Unstoppable program, which aims to help veterans readjust to civilian life and beat back a wave of veteran suicides.

“We try to get them up and fishing and hunting and doing things to get them moving again,” Baylis said. “That takes space.”

He said it is particularly hard to find space where they don’t have to worry about the sound of gunshots from other hunters using the area, which can be triggering for veterans with PTSD.

Valor plans to construct six to eight new buildings to support the program; Baylis said the new construction will not be visible from outside the property. Because new structures will be placed alongside existing ones, the total area covered by development will not change, he said.

The remaining land will be covered by a conservation easement to preserve the open space.

“We are grateful that a very generous and fiscally powerful benefactor heard our story and said ‘hey, I'm gonna fix that for you, don't worry,’” said Baylis. “I’m still in shellshock… all I can do is say thank you a lot.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.