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Camp keeps scouts busy

Youth experience outdoors at Black Creek

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POSTED: June 22, 2013 11:03 a.m.
Photo by Randy C. Murray/

The camp’s 40-acre lake boasts a 14-foot, floating climbing wall called “the iceberg.”

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The Black Creek Scout Reservation, a 400-acre camp for scouts of all ages, is well into its second summer camping season. The camp held its annual media day Tuesday, which allowed journalists to act as scouts for a day.
Liberty District Executive Micah Donaldson welcomed news media to the camp, which is southeast of Sylvania. Donaldson and camp director Will Britt escorted journalists around the camp, giving them opportunities to talk with scouts and scoutmasters.
Britt, who has been working with the Boy Scouts of America since 2007, noted the lake levels are much higher than last year. The lake recently flooded after a massive reconstruction project was completed. Recent rains also have contributed to lake levels, he said.
A 14-foot, floating climbing wall called an “iceberg” was added after the swimming and boating areas were moved to the other side of the lake.
“I’m the only full-time, on staff Boy Scout employee at the camp,” Britt said, adding that he also is the district manager for the Twin Rivers Boy Scouts District. “I live in Statesboro. This camp happens to be in my district.”
He said his district consists of about 700 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venture Crews from communities surrounding Black Creek. The Twin Rivers District is one of three districts making up the Coastal Empire Council Boy Scouts of America. Britt, 38, said the other districts include the Geechee District and the Atlantic District.
The Coastal Empire Council was established about 10 years after the Boy Scouts of America was established by American newspaper publisher and entrepreneur William D. Boyce. Britt said it serves more than 7,000 young men and women each year through traditional scouting, inner-city Scout Reach programs and Learning for Life and Explorer Post programs.
The camp director talked about achieving Eagle Scout status in 1993, calling the BSA the nation’s “foremost youth program for character development” and “values-based leadership training.” He said scouting helps young people be “prepared for life.”
Britt said Black Creek operates year-round but is busiest during the summer months when they conduct five weeks of camping. These camps include a one-week camp for training staff, a one-week camp for Cub Scouts and three one-week camps for Boy Scouts.
“The campers here today arrived on Sunday and will go home on Saturday,” he said. “Black Creek is used about every other weekend.”
He said the 40-acre lake is called Eagle Lake, but they gladly would rename it or any hiking trail or shelter after anyone or any organization willing to make a sizable donation.
Though he was careful to avoid controversial topics, Britt said he thinks the recent decision by the national council to allow openly gay membership has not produced the positive affects they were promised. About 75 percent of the churches supporting the Coastal Empire Council have said they may not reapprove their charters next year, but none of the organizations that lobbied for the change have stepped forward to offer their monetary support, he said.
Many local council members have expressed concerns that the new membership rules might be the first step toward changing other traditional Boy Scout values, he said. Britt said he thinks similar concerns are causing churches that previously supported BSA to end that support.
Camp enrollment is up this year, which has helped financially, and donors still come through. For example, the camp recently received financial support from the family of Statesboro attorney Lovett Bennett. The money will be used to construct a backstop fence for the baseball field and a basketball court.
As he guided the tour, Britt showed off a “confidence course,” which is under construction, and a hiking trail that leads to several large fish ponds created by the industrious activities of nature’s first engineers — beavers.
Lunch is one of the scouts’ favorite activities. They waited eagerly for chicken-fillet sandwiches and fresh-vegetable salads, then rushed back in line when a call was made for seconds.
“One of our goals is to feed them well,” said Britt, whose father is the head chef for this year’s camp. “A kid will complain about food in a heartbeat.”
Scoutmaster Beverly Hill said activities are much slower after lunch, particularly on hot summer days. She said campers usually spend the afternoons cleaning latrines and other areas that are inspected every morning. A visit to one troop’s campsite found 11-year-olds Sam Donnelly, Brayden Willett and Ray Sears in their tent, attempting to nap despite the summer heat and humidity.
Nearby, counselors sat in the shade and discussed the change in first-time campers who wanted to go home almost immediately when they arrived Sunday but now are having a great time.
About an hour after lunch, activities picked up. Tenderfoot scouts took part in first-aid classes while others prepared for craft lessons, worked on science projects or played water sports.

 

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