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4802 South 19th Street
Tacoma, WA, 98405


Council Update

October 28, 2016


Dear Scouters,

2016 has been a year that has seen many changes in the Pacific Harbors Council.   I thought I would take a moment to update you as to where we stand with many of the challenges that we have been facing.  Thanks to the efforts of volunteers around the council, we have a lot of news to share. 


As I write this, the Council is showing a growth of 3% in total membership.  The great news is that we still have a few days to go in the month!  Thank you to all of the units that have held their joining events.  Many of you have played a role in helping to make this happen.  From organizing joining events to delivering flyers, to sitting at a booth at the State Fair, to making sure your unit has a great program; we are now seeing some strong membership growth.


The numbers should be finalized by next week, but it is looking like the popcorn sale will be the largest in council history.  More than $340,000 was earned by units in order to deliver a quality program for young people.  We flirted with the $1,000,000 mark in sales, but it is looking like the total sale will end up being around $970,000.  Thank you to all the Scouting units that participated in the Popcorn Sale!


The Council is on track to balance our budget for 2016.  We still have some work to do and about $50,000 in Friends of Scouting to raise, but many of the changes we have made are starting to bring our council to a sustainable level.  


I also thought I would take some time to update you as to where we stand on each of the properties

Tumwater Service Center

The old service center was sold and the proceeds were used to create a board designated emergency fund of $150,000 and pay down debt.  To date, the Council has paid down $206,000 of the $650,000 loan.

We have rented a new Service Center and the response from our volunteers has been overwhelmingly positive.  The new facility features two training rooms, office space for the executives and a new store.   The training rooms are available for use.  Check out the council web site for details.

Camp Thunderbird

The Council Program Committee is developing our program needs plan for Camp Thunderbird.  An important meeting for you to express your thoughts will be the Camp Thunderbird Stakeholder Conference that will be held on January 14th, 2017.  See our council website for information on how to particpate.  Hope you can join us!

Once we have our program plans we will begin the process of engineering our property plan to match the need.   From there we will undertake a capital campaign to make Camp Thunderbird a first class camp for all of our Scouts and Scouters.  It won’t happen overnight, but you should see progress every time you visit Thunderbird.

One of the benefits of focusing all of our efforts to maintain a single camp is that we are starting to see the results at camp.  Here are a few of the projects that are in process or completed.

Removal of condemned buildings- We have removed almost all buildings from the property that have been condemened over the past decade.  The A frame structure that was between the dining hall and the office has been completely removed.  The adirondaks on the far side of the dining hall have been removed.  The old shower facility in the Camp Akela area is about 80% removed.  We still need to finish the shower facilty and one other building, but there has been significant progress.  Thank you to the Order of the Arrow and Bob Bippert’s team for helping to remove these old structures!


Above pictures are before and after of the A Frame.

Swimming Area Improvement-  Over the years the swimming area has filled with several feet of muck.  We have completed year one of a two year plan to remove the muck in the bottom of the pond and make the area cleaner and safer.  A special thank you to Bob Wubbena for going through the process to get the six permits we needed to make this happen.  So far we have removed about 15-20 yards of the 50 yards of material we are allowed to remove.  At the end of next summer we will be allowed to remove the muck on the far side of the pond to complete this project.  A big thank you also goes to Marvin Johnson for spending several days on his excavater helping us to remove the muck.

We have completed year two of mowing the lily pads in the canoeing area.  Our understanding is that three years of mowing the lily pads should bring the pads in that area under control.  This makes it safer for Scouts to canoe in the area.

Dale O remodel-  The Order of the Arrow committed to help us remodel the Dale O Training Center.  They committed up to $8,000 for tables, chairs and paint.  Thank you OA!!  The painting of the interior of the building is about 80% complete.  We still have two rooms and the bathrooms to finish up.  The exterior paint is purchased and we are now waiting for some dry weather in order to complete that part.  Thank you to Mathew Cameron, Tylene Byrd, Steve Smith, Chip Schwarze (and Family) Bill Rogers and members of the Order of the Arrow for helping with all of the painting. 

Puget Sound Energy is helping us with an energy audit and we are hoping to swich all of the lights in camp to LED.  At Dale O. we are looking at switching the balasts of our current lights so we can change to LED.  The restrooms should be remodeled by the end of this year.   Thank you to Jules Fauson for helping us get a great price on new restroom fixtures.

The new tables and chairs have already been delivered and are currently in use.

Thanks to a great deal from Milgard Windows, we will be replacing all of the windows in this buidling.  The windows are ordered and expected to arrive at camp in about two weeks.  We hope to install them the following week.

Dining Hall- When John Ohlson was planning for WashJam, he came up with a great plan to help with the lighting at the dining hall.  The cost to rent lights for the tents at Washjam was almost the same as buying LED lights.  So we bought them.  They are being installed in the dining hall this week.  I was at camp yesterday and about 1/3 had been installed.  The room looks much larger without the big lights we used to have.  The lights are much brighter than the old lights.  It may take a little getting used to lights that come on when you turn on the switch instead warming up for a few minutes.

We are also installing a larger sound system into the building.  Both the lights and the sound system should be installed in the next ten days.

We want to look at the building when the new lights are in before we make a final decision, but our current plan is to paint the interior of the dining hall a lighter color some time this spring. 

We are still looking for a source to help us with stalls and an epoxy floor for the restrooms at Dale O.  If you can help us get a deal on either of these, please get in touch with me at 253-752-2134. 

Camp Curran

The transaction to turn over Camp Curran to the Curran Community Assoication is complete.  If you would like to use Camp Curran for a Scouting event, check out their Facebook page that is listed as the Camp Curran Community Association.  The Council is wishing the Curran Community Associaiton a long and succesful future!!

Camp Kilworth

At the October board meeting a recommendation was made by the Kilworth sub committee for the Council to return Camp Kilworth back to the foundations that originally gave us the property.  The board voted to return the property.   We are in that process now.

As part of the converation with one of the foundations we have made our hope known that the foundation consider the City of Federal Way and the Friends of Kilworth as possible partners.  We don’t know what they will do, but the suggestion was well received.  We are so grateful to the Kilworth Foundations for allowing us to use this property for so many years!  The board wishes to express our appreciation for the passion of the Friends of Kilworth.  Thank you for your efforts.

Camp Delezenne

The sub committee for Delezenne will meet before the next board meeting to make a recommendation as to what should be done with Camp Delezenne.  Most of the buildings have now been boarded up in order to protect them from vandalism.  We have met with representatives from the original donor of the property, Weyerhaeuser, to discuss the future of the property.  No decision has been made.  As was done at Camp Hahobas, a camp closing ceremony will be a part of the final acitiviy at Camp Delezenne, the Klondike in January.

Camp Hahobas

Camp Hahobas has new caretakers, Jerry and Kathy Billings.  They have both been Scouting volunteers and we look forward to them moving to Camp Hahobas in the next couple of weeks.

The sub committee for Camp Hahobas has met, but no recommendations to the board have been made at this time.   Other than closure, no other decisions have been made for the camp. 

Day Camps

Last year we increased the fees for day camp by $10 and used that money to buy new equipment.  We were able to purchase 8 large popups, new archery equipment and make repairs to some other equipment.  Next year we plan to replace the BB guns and purchase additional pop ups.

We will also work to locate the camps in closer proximity to our Scouting families. 

Overall Update

There has been a lot of progress this year, but we still have a long way to go.   Programs have been amazing this year.  Washjam was a huge success!  We continue to grow NYLT and the 11-year-old camp at Thunderbird.  We even sold out Fall Festival and a District Camporee in the past few weeks.

I’m very proud that we have eliminated a portion of the loan, but we still need to eliminate it entirely.    We also have another $600,000 in debt that we must pay ourselves in the next few years.    All together, we still have about $1,000,000 in debt.

In an effort to balance our budget we have cut three full time staff positions and closed four properties this past year.  I don’t think anyone is excited that we had to do this.  I know that I am not.  But I hope you are starting to see the results of our efforts at Camp Thunderbird.  I hope that you can join us in making this Council a great one.  I hope that we can continue to build strong Scouting units and bring the dream of Scouting to young people seeking adventure.

I have a saying I have used for years with my staff and with the volunteers I have served.  I think it appropriate now as we look to the rest of this year and 2017.

“Any of us can choose to make a difference, but together and united, we can change the world.”

We need your help.  Are you willing to be involved with making Thunderbird a great camp?  Are you willing to help us fund this council through Friends of Scouting, popcorn and participation in activities like resident camp, day camp and other district events?   Are you willing to help Scouting units through participation on the District Committee or serving as a Unit Commissioner? 

I hope the answer is yes and we can look forward to building a great council together!


Ralph Voelker
Scout Executive