CHESTER — Camp Kiashuta is back to Meigs County ownership.
The long-time Boy Scout Camp near Chester was officially returned to Meigs County ownership with a ribbon cutting and brief ceremony on Saturday, the culmination of nearly 18 months of work by the Friends of Camp Kiashuta.
In late 2017/early 2018, word began to circulate that Camp Kiashuta was going to be sold by the Boy Scout regional council.
Paul Reed, who has been involved in the Friends of Camp Kiashuta group as the president, said that he received a call from Hank Cleland at that time explaining that they had to find a way to buy it back for Meigs County and the youth. Cleland was a longtime scout leader in the county, and had taken campers to Camp Kiashuta for several years.
It was lengthy process to bring the camp, its cabin, campsites and acreage back to the county. The land for the camp was originally donated by a Meigs County resident to be a Boy Scout Camp.
The 137 acre property was able to be purchased by the Friends of Camp Kiashuta from the Buckskin Council of the Boy Scouts for approximately $161,400, a 40 percent discount from the planned list price.
The Friends of Camp Kiashuta worked to secure grant funding to assist with the purchase, as well as donations toward the purchase and continued operation of the camp.
Last year, the group, with the assistance of Economic Development Director Perry Varnadoe, was awarded the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund grant to cover the purchase price, but that grant could not be used for the portion of the land with campsites and the cabin, only the preserved green space. With that in mind, the property was separated into two parts — the 127 acres of undisturbed green space and the 10 acres with the campsites, cabin and similar areas. The 127 acres is now part of the Meigs County Park District and must remain in its current condition as green space.
On Saturday, Reed presented the deed to the 10 acres, including the cabin, to Hank Cleland.
Walking in the cabin remains a glimpse into the past and all of the memories created there over the years. Signed shirts, board and other items are on display around the room, showing the names of those who have attended camp at the site.
Reed noted on Saturday that in going through the process of buying the camp he wondered if it was “trying to preserve a memory” or “trying to buy something for the future.”
While he noted there are many memories at the camp, he said it is certainly something for the future generations of the county to enjoy and a place for them to create memories.
Even while the event was taking place on Saturday to officially transfer the property there were memories being made as a Boy Scout Troop from Point Pleasant was spending the weekend at the Camp.
Now, the goal is to preserve the camp and allow it to be enjoyed by residents of Meigs County and surrounding areas for years to come.
Camp Kiashuta is available for reservation by Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups, church organizations, youth organizations, for birthday parties or other events.
As has always been the case, the cabin will continue to be cared for by volunteers. In previous years it had been Hank Cleland, Bob Armes, and Erik Aanestad, among others, who had cared for the building at one time or another. Currently it is Bob Brooks who is overseeing the cabin and property. Reed commented that it is the hope that there will be others continue to step up in the future to maintain Camp Kiashuta.
Donations may be sent to Friends of Kiashuta, care of Jennifer McKibben, 29411 Elige Hill Road, Racine, Ohio 45771.
To schedule use of the cabin contact Bob Brooks, 42995 Mudsock Road, Coolville, Ohio 45723 or by phone at 740-985-3497 or 740-591-3988.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.