CARVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A Boy Scouts camp that’s been a local refuge for decades just sold to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $1.4 million. Now, the lights are off at the dining hall and the windows are shuttered, as the camp officially closed on May 31.
Camp Cachalot has served as the home away from home for many scouts throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island since the 1940s. “The actual property transfer was signed in March of 1946,” said Cachalot historian Dennis Wilkinson. “We just completed our 75th Anniversary celebration last year.”
But the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in 2020 after thousands of men nationwide came forward claiming they were abused while in Scouts. The proposed settlement is about $2.7 billion, meaning councils across the country would contribute to that.
“This property, we’re told, is being sold as part of essentially a bill that our local council, all local councils, are getting,” said Brian Bastarache, Chairman of the Camp Cachalot Alumni Association. “This council has to give approximately $6 million, so this [camp] will be part of the $6 million.”
“The proceeds from the sales of real estate, along with other unrestricted assets available to us, will comprise our Council’s contribution to the survivor’s compensation Trust as part of the national organization’s bankruptcy process,” read a statement from the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America—serving Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—confirming the sale to the Commonwealth. The Council added that it has not filed for bankruptcy and will continue camp at several other sites, including potentially Camp Norse in Kingston, Massachusetts, which was also sold off and is now owned by a nonprofit.
Wilkinson said that enrollment in the Scouts has been declining since the 1970s, and that the camp hasn’t been used as a weeklong summer camp site since 2017. “They decided to centralize their summer camping at Camp Yawgoog,” he explained.
Troops can decide if they want to go to Yawgoog, in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, or somewhere out of council, like in Western Massachusetts. “It’s a boy-led program, so in most cases, it’s a boy-led decision,” Wilkinson said. “To be clear, even in a normal year, they might just want to go somewhere else just for variety.”
There is also another camp in the same state forest as Cachalot—Camp Squanto—but alumni say there’s something special about Cachalot that they’ll miss. “Water is crystal clear—there’s not a better place to go swimming. But it’s the group of people,” Bastarache said. “I don’t know why, but there’s a unique group of people here who are dedicated to the facility, and that sort of dedicates them to each other.”