Let’s save Camp LeFeber

Mark Walters • OUTDOOR COLUMNIST

This past week I received a call for help and it was from a group (Baden/Powell Northwoods Experience) that is trying to save an important part of Wisconsin’s past and present. This week’s column is loaded with more info then I have space to put it in.

So, I am doing some farm work and I get a call from an Eagle Scout which is the highest attainable goal in The Boy Scouts of America. This young man tells me about an incredible place that is nestled on 1,130 acres of pure paradise in Forest County near Wabeno.

Camp LeFeber was donated and created, and has had a continuous stream of Boy Scouts since 1930.

Camp LeFeber is owned and managed by The Three Lakes Council of Boy Scouts of America which is pretty much the Milwaukee area. When John LeFeber donated the property, which also has three lakes on it, it was with the intention that young men would spend a week or so each summer working at the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.

For the last 50 years the Zimmer family has been the caretakers at this incredible place. First, the caretakers were Emil and Audrey Zimmer who gave birth to two sons, Gary and Wayne. Gary has been the caretaker for the last 33 years along with his wife, Olivia. They raised three daughters on the property – Maria, Heather and Kristin.

All three daughters have worked at LeFeber. Presently, Kristin is the program director and her husband, Adam Rabe, is the camp director at Camp LeFeber.

Back in the 1930s scouts and counselors from around the country arrived at Wabeno by train and then took horses to camp. The idea behind Boy Scouts of America and its camps is to prepare young men for the real world and to help make them better people.

I spoke extensively with Adam and Kristen Rabe, and Jaron Tauschmann. Here is the deal. In mid- June The Three Lakes Council notified its past and present members that Camp LeFeber would be closed and put up for sale after this summer’s last scouts left.

Almost overnight, past and present Boy Scouts, their families and a great many business owners and professionals created a group to save LeFeber. Before I made the decision to do this column I looked at the group’s website, www.bpnorthwoods.org and made some calls.

I urge you to look at this website. Wisconsin is about to lose something that it will never get back.

So here is how this camp can be saved. Thankfully, the wise leaders of the Three Lakes Council have honorably given this group that numbers hundreds of past and present Scouts from their own council the first rights of purchase.

Since June 25 the group has raised $68,000 and have many people waiting to see what the price of this camp will be, so that they can do the right thing and save Camp LeFeber from a potential sale to a developer or who knows what. Adam and Kristin donated the money for their honeymoon (they were recently married) to this cause and it was no small chunk of change.

Just this summer over 800 Scouts stayed at Camp LeFeber where they were taught how to coexist with nature in methods such as ecology, canoeing, fire building and working together.

Each “patrol” that numbers between 3-11 Boy Scouts receives all its food for the week on day one. The Scouts do all of their own cooking and dishes as well as camp building and even collecting of firewood.

Some of the Scouts take a long canoe trip and hike to a lake where they camp for the night and then canoe and hike back the next day.

A business plan is in the works to make this camp available for Boy Scouts and other youth organizations, so Camp LeFeber can be used by as many youths and their mentors as possible in a year’s time. As president and founder of KAMO (Kids and Mentors Outdoors) I will strongly urge my members and board of directors to use Camp LeFeber.

Folks, this can work. We the people have an opportunity to save 1,130 acres of rustic paradise. If the leaders of the Three Lakes Council keep their word on the right of first purchase, this group just needs a price and then the deal can very potentially be done.

I spoke in great detail about the commitment required, should this camp purchase be made by The Baden/Powell Northwoods Experience.

Kristin and Adam would love to live here and be a part of it (Kristin is a middle school science teacher at Fontana). Jaron Tauschmann created the website and is putting his heart and soul into this project.

Please look at the website and see the literally hundreds of Boy Scouts and their counselors – some that stayed here back in the 1960s – as they try to save Camp LeFeber

This column will be published in 63 papers in Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula and Iowa. If you decide to help or you cannot help yourself, possibly you know someone that can.

The clock is ticking!

Sunset


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