The descendants of Charles Gustin are asking the Pine Tree Council not to sell Camp Gustin in Sabattus as a way to help pay the district’s share of compensation to victims of sexual abuse. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

SABATTUS — The family of Charles Gustin is urging the Pine Tree Council to reconsider selling Camp Gustin to raise money toward its share of a Boy Scouts of America victims fund and suggesting language might exist in the original deed for the family to take the camp back.

Shareen Gustin Thompson of Litchfield, Charles’ granddaughter, said in a letter to council leadership that the family only learned of plans to sell the camp — “grave news to us and our legacy” — in a Sun Journal story last week.

Charles Gustin bought the land in 1933 and deeded it to the Pine Tree Council in 1948 after having sent sons George and Lewis off to a Scouting camp in Raymond. He wanted local boys to have that same wild, outdoors experience, according to the Sun Journal archives.

His sons were active the last time the council considered selling the camp, between 2009 and 2010. The family and community rallied. Officials instead decided to work to increase its use.

“Both George and Lewis have recently passed, but their family foundations and continued connections to both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts remain strong,” Thompson wrote. “We urge you not to make an irreversible short-term decision, but preserve the investment from the past for the future.”

Pine Tree Council President Jack O’Toole told scouting parents last week that Camp Gustin and Camp Nutter in Acton were being sold to come up with the “very large cash contribution” the local council has to pay as its share of the Boy Scouts of America’s fund for victims of sexual abuse.

Scout Executive Matt Klutzaritz declined to say how large that share was.

A decade ago, it was estimated the 85-acre Camp Gustin on Loon Pond could bring in as much as $350,000.

Klutzaritz said last week that it’s being newly appraised for a sale price.

“We ask once again that the council judiciously consider not selling Camp Gustin and that the council look elsewhere for financial securities to support the grossly sexual scandals that have resulted in BSA bankruptcy matters,” Thompson wrote.

Back in 2010, when that sale was debated, the family got the advice of an Auburn attorney that “the language in the deed appears to be language of a ‘condition subsequent,’ which means that if breached, the heirs of the grantor have the right to take the premises back,” she said. “However, it’s not our families’ desire to take possession of the land but to keep Camp Gustin as its original full intention to be used as a campsite and for camping by the Boy Scouts as stated in our grandfather’s deed.”

Klutzaritz reiterated Monday that the goal is to find a buyer that would allow Scouts to continuing using the property.

“If we are able to do so, it would provide compensation to the National Abuse Fund and allow local Scouts continued use of Camp Gustin,” he said.

He declined comment on the deed.

“Since theses are legal issues, we cannot comment on the family’s claims,” Klutzaritz said.

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