When I returned to Scofield this past summer to help train the waterfront staff and set things up, the camp was transformed. Thanks to the Florence Bullock Ragan Family Foundation, we spent part of staff week putting together a beautiful new dock and setting up a wild new water obstacle course. There were more screaming, laughing Scouts on the waterfront than ever before and with all the new obstacles no one sat idle. Plus, the new dock allowed the waterfront staff to teach more Scouts more effectively because there was plenty of room to teach multiple merit badges at the same time.
Scofield wasn’t the only camp in the council to receive a much-needed makeover thanks to the generous donation from a foundation. Any Scouts who attended Thunder Ridge this year found a beautiful new shooting range and brand new equipment provided by the NRA Foundation. For years Thunder Ridge had been using worn-out equipment in facilities that were too small and crowded for instructors to teach and maneuver around the Scouts effectively. Now with the new range there is room for more Scouts to learn about shooting sports and safety and the instructors can give more individual attention to each Scout because they are better able to see and access them. This summer Scouts at Thunder Ridge were introduced to shooting sports with new equipment.
Camp is arguably the best place to earn nature-related merit badges. After all, no one is closer to nature than a scout who has dirt in his sleeping bag, bugs in his hair and rocks in his shoes. Unfortunately, many of our camps had outdated or dilapidated nature areas that made it difficult for scouts to learn effectively. Without adequate shelter and a place to store equipment, our nature areas struggled to give Scouts the kind of experience we knew they could. Thanks to a generous donation from the Eccles Foundation, Maple Dell no longer has this problem. The new Eccles Nature Center has a classroom that will house a static display of life in the mountains including murals, taxidermy from the BYU Bean Museum, fur and hoof samples, and a year-round nature display. In addition to the indoor classroom, the center has two pavilions with tables for other classes and activities. This center will allow camp staff to teach six nature-related merit badges and up to three classes simultaneously. Thanks to the Eccles Foundation, every year 2300 Maple Dell Scouts will have the chance to be better conservationists and more knowledgeable of and connected to the natural world.
The Nature Center isn’t the only thing that is new at Maple Dell. The Do Good Foundation (part of InsideSales.com) donated funds and 3600 hours of volunteer time to repair, rebuild, and add to existing camp structures and equipment. Thanks to this tremendous effort Maple Dell is now home to a sandy new beachfront, large dock, inflatable aquatic obstacle course, COPE/ropes course and zip-line. These volunteers also repainted and repaired gates and buildings throughout the camp.
Lord Baden Powell famously said “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.” The camp experience is vital in helping boys become leaders, learn life skills, and gain a love of scouting that will last a lifetime. Thanks to the Reagan, NRA, Eccles, and Do Good Foundations, more Scouts than ever will be able to have this kind of camp experience in facilities that will help shape youth and leaders alike for years to come.
Author: Maria Milligan | Grant Writer, Utah National Parks Council, BSA