Scouts and Others talk about Finch Lodge

(More excerpts will be added as time permits)


Occasionally I read the Spokesman-Review online, and came across the article in the 6-4-07 issue and was quite dismayed to learn that Finch Lodge was to be demolished. I immediately looked up your web site and found more info. I was a young adult staffer for four summers at the camp in the early 70's and have many, many fond memories of the camp and lodge. Please, please keep up the work to save the Lodge. If the council needs donations to restore it, they can count on me to help.

I plan on visiting the area later this summer, and I hope I can drive up to Diamond Lake and take a quick peek at the majestic and to me, hallow hall of Finch Lodge! (Former Camp Staffer writing from California)

What are they thinking? Bulldozing down finch lodge? For the sake of a better view [of the] lake? Sounds to me as the powers that be are a few kernels short of a tin of popcorn.  It would be a shame for the council to allow this to happen and i think its absurd that the council has even entertained this idea!  (Former Camp Staffer writing from Spokane)

I worked for three summers in the ... 90's as a lifeguard and camp commissioner at Camp Cowles. ... I recognize as does everyone the faults of the building. ... But in this day and age where the very foundations and nobility of this historic brotherhood we call boy scouts is under attack. Where a Boy Scout is in the minority of his friends and family and where an Eagle Scout is really rarely heard. I think its important to have this link to the noble past, to those ghost scouts that cheered and ate in that hall, to the awards that were presented there, to the records that hang on the placards on the walls. Those scouts of the past are in the romanticized mind of a young scout a breed above the rest and ideal to aspire to. It's a reassuring place for a scout to feel as though he has come home, to feel as though there is a living reminder of the noble rugged past that we tell stories of. Heroes taught in that hall, and Heroes were trained in that hall and to their honor and to the honor of the hope they had that there would be boys that would grow up to live as a scout should live we can not tear down finch. It is a symbol of the nobility and brotherhood of scouting which today is in the minority.   (Eagle Scout and former Camp Staffer writing from Spokane)

Just a note of encouragement from a former Adult staffer (early 1990's) and son of a 1930’s camper (my Dad grew up in Newport/Oldtown). I treasure many memories of Finch, even though the Carbon Lodge was already in use during my tenure there. One example: my wife and I were married at Cowles ... (in the “old” campfire bowl near Finch Lodge) and our wedding reception was in Finch.  Keep up the good fight.  (Former Scout and Adult Camp Staffer)

Finch lodge is the place to be to learn about scouting history and a place to learn about yourself. this is whay you need to try to save these types of buildings.  (Posted on Scouter.com)

When I herd that Finch Lodge was to be demolished I was outraged that the great place was to be torn down for a new lodge ...  Stay the course with Finch Lodge and restore it to its original beauty.  You would have not two lodges, but three.  Then you would be able to try and make more money by renting out all three lodges at once.

  I ask you and most of the executive council to go and spend fifteen to thirty minutes in Finch Lodge lodge.  The longer that you sit in Finch Lodge you will begin to know all of the people that have sat in that seat or stood in that spot before you.  All of the signs that hang around the balcony have a history that is not told but learned by sitting and looking into the depths of that particular sign.  Please go and spend some time in Finch Lodge for the sake of an important part of national history

My understanding is that the council is interested in demolishing Finch Lodge so the view of the lake can be seen from the new lodge.  But the look from the old trading post ... is ten times better than that of Finch Lodge.  The view from Finch Lodge primarily looks at is the lifeguard tower and the docks, but from the old trading post you can see the trees and mountains framing the lake. ... It would be a shame to lose that piece of history so you can have a view of a dock and lake homes.   (Current Life Scout and SPL)

At any age level the most successful scout camps make those attending part of the family. The scout becomes comfortable and often thinks of members of the staff as close friends or relatives.  The camp becomes a home and a place where he can go even when the rest of his life may be crumbling.  The scout is often sad to leave and cannot wait to return.  It is not expensive program features nor activities that compel a scout to return each year, but rather a desire to visit a place where he belongs.

Finch Lodge has always been central to the atmosphere at Camp Cowles. Scouts for many generations have considered it the place where they are most comfortable and where they belong. ... The building has sometimes provided comfort during a breakup of a family or the death of a loved one. It is common for individuals who have been away for several decades to stop and visit Finch Lodge as the home where they grew up. Memories of Finch Lodge are far different than those of their school cafeteria or where they went to sports camp. A grand building that resembles a hotel, ski lodge or casino will be impersonal and cold. It could never exemplify the same feeling as Finch. (Long time Scout Volunteer and former camp staff member)

My background in scouting started years ago in Del Rio, Texas then to High Wycombe, England. I was a member of the Order of the Arrow. Currently, I have been in the public school system at the same district for 29 years teaching mostly in the primary grades K- 4.  I actively participate with a local scout master to recruit Cub Scout aged students to join the scouts. I have no sons but currently am a grandfather of two young grandsons. I hope that they will have the opportunity to be in scouts and spend time at Finch Lodge.

I have visited Finch Lodge and would urge you to fix it up for the use of cub scouts and their families. The rustic inside would make a great impression on Cub Scout aged children. They would be wowed and ahh’ed to spend a day or even better overnight in such a building. The fascinating architecture would peak their curiosity and imaginations. This would leave a wonderful experience for these young scouts.

I recommend that you refurbish Finch Lodge as one part of your program to attract and retain cub scouts to the scouting program at Camp Cowles. They would definitely want to come back again to that “neat old building.” (Teacher, Scout supporter and Grandfather writing from Spokane)

... I have a young boy and I am excitedly awaiting the day we'll get to choose organizations for him to be involved in. Cub scouts has definitely been on the list of ones to consider, but I have grave concerns about an organization that would tear down one of its historical treasures when other cost effective options exist. After reading the information presented on savefinchlodge.com, I strongly support the idea to build a new dining hall up the hill and leave Finch Lodge as is, for young scouts to benefit from in the future. (Mother of a prospective Scout)

Finch Lodge is rightly a landmark as Jerry Jones describes in his article of August 17, 2006 in the Whitman County Gazette. It is a classic Boy Scout lodge. With fire places at each end, knotty pine wall board and the view of the lake, it is all Boy Scout. All the times we ate, sang songs and saluted the moose. Yes the moose. There used to be a moose head at each end of Finch Lodge over the fire places. ... Now I read with alarm that the whole lodge may come down! There has to be thousands of Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts such as my self, who spent many summers eating in Finch Lodge that should be ready to save it! (A former Scout writing from Seattle)

I found out last week reading the Whitman County Gazette that the lodge was in jeopardy. I hope the Inland Empire Council has the sense to preserve the lodge. Whatever it takes. There must be thousands of us, even those of us that are Eagle Scouts, that would be willing to donate to save it. (Former Scout writing from Seattle)

Please dont let this happen .This is such a treasure . I have talked to several of my old freinds and we all agree [big surprise] that this is an opportunity for your eager helpers to grab a job and do a great thing for the kids . the youngsters will always remember it and thank you many times over, and there is not a shortage of help . some of us who can't get around as good as we used to can at least give support to those that can.  please re think this. saving the old building would look just as good on your resume as spending way more than necessary to do something that someday you will regret. (A former Scout Parent and current Scout Grandparent)

I had my first campout when I was a young cub scout back in the early 90's at camp cowles & continued to visit the finch lodge for about 7 years about twice a year. I would hate to see this piece of history & a small treasure that has been with the BSA for close to a century demolished due to to an inspection that is based on "a more sound structure" I would be willing to bet that if you were able to contact most of the people who have visited the lodge, both parents who visited for the parent dinner durring summer camp & the cub/boy scouts, you would get an over whelming response that the structure doesn't need to be demolished but restored. This building as well as the camp was my home for 3 of my 4 summer camps while in BSA. Thats not including the klondike camp outs I had gone on. (A former Scout)

I'm another old Scout with fond memories of Camp Cowles, and especially Finch Lodge. I'm a retired member of the Spokane Fire Department. My last five years "on the Job" I worked in the Fire Marshal's office. I had the opportunity to work with Len [Len Urgeleit, RenCorp] on the Gables Apartments( on West Broadway). This place was totally unlivable, and Len and his crew renovated it and made it better than new. So, if he says the Lodge can be saved, I would have to agree and back him to the hilt. Spokane has recently seen the benefits of renovation, just look at The Davenport Hotel and Lewis & Clark High School for two examples. (A former Scout)

The US Park Service is in the midst of restoring many of the grand lodges built by the CCC during the depression. Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier is one example of a project now underway. The goal is to return the lodge to it's original beauty while updating the rooms to meet today's needs. The work is expected to take 2 years.

Critics have said that it would be easier to simply tear the lodge down and build something modern, sleek. The logs are hard to maintain, and who needs real stone fireplaces? But the history, the atmosphere, the experience would be lost.

Finch Lodge is another example of a historic building that adds to our appreciation of history and atmosphere. Thousands of Scouts (and their parents) fondly remember their times at camp, and want their children or grandchildren to have the same. A sleek new steel and cement building would not be the same. (As functional as Carbon Lodge it, is has all the atmosphere of a school gym)

Please restore Finch to it's original beauty. Add to it to make it even better. Make us proud of our facility, our history, and our future. (A Scout Volunteer)

While we strive to understand the difficult decisions you are all making we want you to know that our family is 100% against this action and feels that alternatives proposed by those interested in saving the lodge while continuing to accommodate the needs of the camp should be more thoroughly considered.

Our reasons for this position are both practical and emotional. Finch Lodge is a beautiful and historical building that lends historic significance to Camp Cowles. The first time I saw Finch Lodge it struck me that it was a classic rural northwest structure that embodies the history and caring that has been so important in the formation of Boy Scouts and the ideals that Scouting stands for. Removing it would be removing a large part of what Camp Cowles was, is and should be. The past is a very important part of who we are, what we are and in large part dictates where we will go; and Finch Lodge is a part of what this magnificent Inland Northwest is and how it is a unique and wonderful place.

Please reconsider this important decision and look at alternatives to taking down Finch Lodge. This irresponsible action will only cause the INW to loose an important piece of social history; it is a tragedy that will lead to a lack of moral and a loss of regional character now and for our kid’s futures.

... We support Scouting, but we do not support these decisions. Please listen to your base. (A Scout Parent and Volunteer)

I have had the opportunity to save and restore numerous homes in the past ten years. ...Being a realtor and an investor dealing with mostly investors, I get the chance to look at numerous structures around the state. I worked on several projects that have involved crawling around, in and over Finch Lodge over the past 15 years. This building is in a lot better shape than most structures that I have restored.

A member of my family has been in camp and in Finch every year since 1964. Yes, this is before I was born but I have carried on the tradition. I have had the honor to speak to over a thousand different people in the past 3 years about Finch Lodge. The first question any person that knows anything about Camp Cowles and learns that I do work there asks is, "Is Finch Lodge still there? We would hate to see that building lost!" (A Scout Volunteer)

I recently had the pleasure of viewing your site and read information about the renovation vs. replacement debate of Finch Lodge. I was happy to hear that you are giving serious consideration to adding a new area off the dining room and expanding dining area. I believe this would preserve both the design and "feel" that visitors of Camp Cowles have come to love and expect. However, after also viewing the 'Save Finch Lodge' site I am concerned to also find out that a professional evaluation from a preservation expert has not been done for informed comparison. I agree that it is not reasonable to add unnecessary burden of a large magnitude to the budget of this project. However, without an evaluation/estimate from a professional with actual preservation expertise, how can we know the true cost of preserving this treasured regional landmark? If costs are comparable and consideration is given to the fact that buildings are preserved and remain functional for centuries on the East coast, I hope the Scouts would do all they can to save the history of Camp Cowles. (Mother of a prospective Scout)

I am a former Boy Scout from Riggins, Idaho who now has a son. I would much rather him see a historic, beautiful building, than just some soul-less hall. Please save the lodge! (A former Scout writing from Spokane)

I might respectfully suggest that you consult with Dr. Terry Dunn ...
Dr. Dunn coordinated the renovation and upgrade of the Coral Rock Dining Hall at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch several years ago, and maintained the architectural integrity of the building, designed by noted architect Hobart D. Wagener in the late 1950's. The kitchen was replaced with a state of the art facility, which utilized much of the exterior original construction, and left the dining hall intact, but with a complete upgrade on electrical and other code required aspects. He also oversaw the design and new construction of the Nicol Cub Scout Camp at the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch and has been highly commended for his creativity and vision in these projects.
(A Scout Volunteer writing from Colorado)

I just found out about this yesterday from the Spokesman Review. I am shocked to say the least. ... I was on staff there in 1978 when I was 16. My Father was a Scout master in the 1960’s and spent a considerable amount of time there.

Finch Lodge is a part of our lives. It exudes Baydon Powell. It would be very wrong to demolish it... (A former Scout and current Scout parent)

We have "Howard Lodge" - same situation. Looks "wrinkled" but ole Scouters love to hang out there - give time and money to our council too!! Many times what it costs to keep it up. Very positive outcome!! Good Luck! (A Scout Volunteer writing from Georgia)

As a father of two current boy scouts with a third son age 5, I strongly urge the INWC to seriously look into the option of restoring and saving Finch Lodge to preserve its history -- it is one of our council's ties to scouting's events of the past. Just stand in the lodge and look at all the banners and displays showing events going back to the early 1900's. This is a true treasure that I hope all of my sons will get to experience and be a part of. Don't be so hasty to just tear down and rebuild -- save an important part of our past. (A Scout Volunteer)

Thank you for your efforts. I can't believe they would even consider tearing down such an icon. (A Scout Volunteer)

I am with you on this that this would be a major loss to the council and I am not in favor of tearing down Finch Lodge. I would much rather see us put a plan to up date and remodel the kitchen and look for ways to make the facility more useable. This is not a wise move on the part of the council. (A Scout Volunteer)

Finch Lodge is a historically significant piece of the Scouting tradition in the Inland Northwest Council - one that, with your support, will continue to link Scouting of yesterday with Scouting of the future.  (8/10/2003, Tim McCandless, Scout Executive)

I agree totally with you that Finch Lodge should be saved!  Having just spent the night in the lodge in April during a severe storm I really now know that it needs */major/* work but the ambiance that the lodge has could never be replicated in a million years! We enjoyed looking at some of the details of the building and telling our troop about the supposed "ghost" that resides in the lodge... Sure the beds were old, the windows were leaky and there was no working bathroom but we were warm, dry and had a chance to stay in a lodge that is full of history and character! Not many people have had the chance to actually stay in the lodge over the past years but this is something that our troop will have memories of for the rest of their lives! ... Sure, nice new buildings have some advantages but they tend to be sterile and cold feeling, not the "home" feeling Finch Lodge radiates!  (A Scout Volunteer)

I would like to see the lodge stay. I believe it would be benefitial and sentimental to all scout in the area to restore the old lodge rather than bringing up a new one. ... I know that there would be many scout troops and scout related organizations that would be willing to make contributions to the work effort of refurnishing the old lodge if it was necessary.  (An Eagle Scout)

I would like to express my opinion on the demolition or restoration of Finch Lodge.   I stayed there a few months ago.  I am a professional Home Inspector although at the time I was not aware it was slated to be bulldozed.  I saw the crumbling rock foundation but this is repairable.  I saw the leaking waterheater in the kitchen but this is repairable.  I found the distant bathrooms a nuisance but as the proposed solution includes a new kitchen attached to the existing structure along with new bathrooms, that problem is also solved.  As a historical building enthusiast I believe the building can be saved and expanded ...  ... I cannot see the estimated repair costs to be realistic.  The costs to replace it and a complete loss of its history and nostalgia would be a devastating loss to the BSA as well as Diamond lake.
I say save the current structure and add to it as needed to meet the demands required. 
(A Scout Volunteer)

As a youngster in Spokane during the 1960's I belonged to cub scout pack #42.   It was the highlight of our summers to go to Camp Cowles, of which Finch Lodge plays an important part. Upon review of current photos on the web and based on my over 25 years of electrical restoration experience, the cost to restore Finch Lodge would be much less than demolition and new construction. The Inland Empire Boy Scout Council should seriously consider restoration as opposed to demolition, for economic reasons as well as historic.  (A former Scout writing from Texas)

Renovation is probably a workable solution and would result in preserving the heritage and historical significance of the camp.  Even if it costs a bit more, IT'S WORTH IT.   We all know it is important to study the costs of possible scenarios before making decisions.  Why is it that a renovation estimate has not been prepared?   Has the decision already been made?   Considering the alternatives and ALL of the associated costs is basic to prudent decision making.   Note that there is a cost to losing this historical building.  ...Removing a valuable landmark is a well-intentioned, but poor stewardship of a treasure we should all be proud of.  ... History does matter.  This treasure is worth an honest attempt to save it.  (A Scout Volunteer)

I am writing this letter to you with a heavy heart after hearing of the possible demolition of the historic Finch Lodge at Camp Cowles.  I sincerely hope you will consider all of the options, including a complete restoration, before making a final decision and that such a decision will not be based entirely upon cost. ...  

As a young scout, I attended Camp Cowles for a number of summers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, as well as for a number of Jamborees and get-togethers. ...

Finch Lodge has a wonderful uniqueness and character that other, newer lodges do not have.  The location and look from the outside and wonderful fireplaces and woodwork on the inside make Finch Lodge a one of a kind place.  I cannot think of any other place on camp where I would rather have spent as many hours. 

... I partially write this letter out of selfishness, but also out of concern for the next generation of campers.  I would be pained to see such a wonderful landmark, which holds so many memories for me, be destroyed in the spirit of just building something newer.  I believe you could spend a comparable amount of money to restore the lodge to meet the camper’s needs.  I also hope you will consider the next generation of campers and the lost opportunity they will have to gain precious memories in such a unique lodge.

... I would like to suggest that you open a fund for donations to restore Finch Lodge. I believe there are many former campers who would be willing to make donations for such an effort, including myself. ...  (A former Scout writing from Portland)