TEXARKANA — A campaign is underway for a non-profit to purchase the property that served as Camp Pioneer.
Former scouts and others interested in the former Caddo Area Boy Scout Council camp located in Mena, Arkansas, met recently in Texarkana to discuss the feasibility of purchasing the property. Group members have formed the Camp Pioneer Non-Profit Alliance.
Texarkana resident and Camp Pioneer supporter Charles Norton has spearheaded the effort. Norton is an Eagle Scout and a former board member of Caddo Area Council.
"This is a group of people that felt like Camp Pioneer was the crown jewel of our scouting organization," Norton said
Norton said the camp was a right of passage for many local youths.
"The youth would go out there and if they were homesick, they couldn't just go home. It was a step in growing up, making the hike up that mountain, learning different life skills. It taught self reliance," he said.
In October of 2020 the Caddo Area Council sold its facility known as Camp Pioneer to independent real estate investors in Mena.
The Caddo Area Council BSA indicated to their board that they could no longer financially support two camps, Camp Preston Hunt in Texarkana as well as Pioneer.
Norton said the new owners are giving the alliance a chance to purchase the property.
A nonprofit is in the process of being set up for tax-exempt donations, Norton said. A Go Fund Me account is currently active for this purpose and is trying to raise $2,740,000.
A Facebook page has also been created to encourage others to share character-building stories regarding the camp's past.
The first priority of the Non-Profit Alliance is to secure the facility and adjoining properties for future generations, Norton said. The second objective will be to repurpose the facility.
"The term that is often used today is paying it forward, and that is what I am asking of the people of this community regarding Camp Pioneer. This property was purchased by developers and will be sold off in small tracts in the near future. There is a short period of time when it could be bought as one piece and repurposed back to a use similar to that, for which it has served in the past, maybe even something better." Norton said.
(Anyone interested in sharing why Camp Pioneer has been significant to them, can visit the Camp Pioneer Facebook page or email [email protected] To donate, or for more information, visit the Camp Pioneer Non-Profit Alliance GoFundMe page at //gofund.me/b8edf209. Donations can also be mailed to CPNPA, P.O. Box 1130 Nash, Texas, 75569.)