Bog puts kibosh on summer camp: Legionville cancels over safety concerns
LEGIONVILLE, Minn.—As the battle of the bog enters another week, the monstrous bog's days in front of the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center may finally be numbered.
But not before the 4,000-ton bog forced the cancellation of the American Legion's summer sessions for children ages 10 to 12 on the Legionville beach over safety concerns.
"We have had to make the unfortunate decision to close the safety patrol camp for the summer. That is being dealt with through my offices in St. Paul as far as any reimbursements," said Randy Tesdahl, executive director/state adjutant of the Minnesota American Legion.
The Legionville camp was established by the Minnesota American Legion for the purpose of training Minnesota young people in correct school patrol procedures. Although school safety and bus patrol training are the primary focuses of the camp, other classes campers attend include first aid, watercraft safety and swim safety, according to Legionville's website.
This would have been the Legion's 80th camping season, according to a Tuesday, June 5, letter stating the safety of the campers, staff and workers was the reason for the cancellation.
"The only other time when we had a summer without camp was during World War II. As then, this is also a situation which is beyond our control," Legionville President Wayne Gilbertson wrote in the letter.
Laura Weber is the Legionville liaison who handles reservations for the seven-weeks-long sessions offered that would have begun June 17. She said about 585 campers from across the state registered. Their cost of $205 each to participate was paid by 145 sponsors.
American Legion posts and organizations often sponsor camp participants, but all sponsors have the choice to apply their paid reservation payments to the 2019 season. For those that do not wish to do so—including payments by parents for their kids—funds will be refunded.
"There is some thought about why in the world would a bog cause you (to cancel)—just block it off. We've had alumni—people who have been to Legionville before—that have said, 'What difference does the bog make?'" Weber said.
Tesdahl is calling for all available boaters to meet at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 10, at the site to remove "very manageable pieces, ready-to-go pieces" of the bog and relocate those sections to where other parts of the bog were moved a few weeks ago.
"It actually makes a lot of difference because it's not only the safety aspect of the kids, but we've got equipment coming in, we've got volunteers coming in, the timeframe to move the bog, and even if we put up a barrier, kids will be kids, you know?" Weber said.
"'I wonder what the bog is, let me see if we can walk on it, what if I walk next to it?' If they slip underneath it or they slip through, they're gone so fast, we don't even know. And we've got to take the barrier down to work on it."
Volunteers with the North Long Lake Association, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota American Legion—the owner of the camp—hoped to move more of the 200-by-800-foot bog last month, but were stymied by inclement weather and the sheer size of the bog.
"Late last week, the North Long Lake Association and people from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources spent time working on the bog and breaking it up into smaller sections and tying them together with straps ... until we could get boats lined up to tow them," Tesdahl said.
"The plan was to come back on Saturday, but as everybody knows, it rained all day Saturday, so that didn't work out. It was moved to Sunday, but the winds were so high that the three of us—the Legion, the DNR and the lake association—all agreed it wasn't safe to try and do Sunday."
The bog became a problem last fall after it detached from shore, just northeast of the camp. The bog floated around the bay as the wind shifted—damaging property in the process—until it found its final resting place for the winter in front of the Legionville camp's swimming beach.
The bog is a natural wetland consisting of marsh, dead plant materials, cattails and a line of tamarack trees. Sunday's goal is to relocate smaller sections of the bog from the camp's swimming beach, where about 700 children swim each summer, to somewhere else nearby.
Bog be gone
Boaters are invited to meet at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 10, near North Long Lake to help with volunteer efforts to relocate sections of a 200-by-800-foot, 4,000-ton bog by towing the pieces away with their boats.