Cub Scout camp nixed in Granby over proximity to firing range

  • The entrance to the Chicopee Sportsmen’s Club in Granby is shown Monday, A Boy Scouts day camp was canceled due to concerns that it was too close to the club’s firing ranges. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chicopee Sportsmen's Club in Granby, Monday, July 15, 2019. A Boy Scouts day camp was canceled due to concerns that it was too close to the club's firing ranges. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS—

  • Chicopee Sportsmen's Club in Granby, Monday, July 15, 2019. A Boy Scouts day camp was canceled due to concerns that it was too close to the club's firing ranges. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS—

Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2019 10:39:09 PM

GRANBY — A local Boy Scouts council canceled a day camp set to run this week for the seventh year after town officials said it could not go forward because of safety concerns over active shooting ranges nearby.

During an inspection of the Cub Scout camp’s Chicopee Sportsmen’s Club site on Saturday, a Board of Health member found that the club’s firing ranges would still be in use during the camp’s duration, said Board of Health Chairman Richard Bombardier.

“The board felt very strongly that having active firing going on in the vicinity … was a thing that we felt is too much of a safety concern for children,” Bombardier said.

As a result, the board issued an order of conditions stating that the camp could not operate at the site while the shooting ranges remain active. The camp, which is open to children in kindergarten through fifth grade, was set to run Monday through Friday for one week at the Granby site.

But on Sunday, the Boy Scouts of America Western Massachusetts Council announced it was canceling the camp “due to processes beyond the control or influence of Western Massachusetts Council.” Seventy campers were signed up for the program.

The council received the order on Saturday afternoon, according to the notice, and appealed to the health department for the next 24 hours.

“Despite operating a safe, fun, and quality day camp for the past six summers at this location, the health department refused to accept any alternatives for operations,” the notice read.

Jeffrey Glaze, president of the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America, estimated that camp activities take place at least 100 yards away from the active shooting ranges and in a different direction from the shooting.

The Chicopee Sportsmen’s Club offered to limit the number of shooting ranges available while camp is held, Glaze added, but the Board of Health still considered the site unsafe.

“The number one thing in our mind is safety, but we’ve run at this location in the past,” Glaze said. “It hasn’t been a big deal, and kids have enjoyed coming to the camp. It hasn’t been dangerous in the past as far as we could tell.”

The board conducts an inspection every year, Bombardier said, but “at least two of the three members of the board were not aware that these shooting ranges could have been active in prior years.”

But whether the ranges were active in the past has no bearing on the board’s decision, Bombardier said.

“We don’t continue a mistake if we think it’s a serious issue,” he said

“Our board said this has the potential to have someone lose a life, and we just have to make it as safe as we can make it,” Bombardier added.

Bombardier also disputed the organization’s claim that the board did not offer any alternatives to canceling the camp, adding that board members offered to “stand on our heads” to help the Boy Scouts find a different site for the camp. The board never heard back from a representative from the Western Massachusetts Council after they discussed the matter on Saturday night, he said.

Glaze responded that changing the camp’s location was not a feasible option due to logistical complications.

“This is permitted by the town far in advance,” Glaze said, “so to change a location two days before camp starts, they might have made some suggestions, but they’re really unworkable suggestions. There’s a lot that goes into running these things.”

The club also has its own regular provisions “for making sure nothing gets out of the shooting range,” he added.

Glaze said that the parent of every child registered was successfully informed of the cancellation prior to Monday morning, but some irritation remains.

“We are giving refunds to all the campers, but families count on this for child care,” Glaze said. “This is the activity of the week for kids, so it’s a frustrating situation for these families.

“It’s just unfortunate that this had to happen 48 hours in advance,” he added.

Bombardier said that he has received calls from some parents who disagree with the order, but the board stands behind its decision.

“When it’s all done, we have to stand up and say we took the stand to make sure no kid gets killed,” Bombardier said.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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