About 180 Boy Scouts and 40 scoutmasters, adult volunteers and staff endured the heat and humidity for six days of fun this week at Black Creek Scout Reservation near Sylvania.
On Thursday, Eagle Scout Tyler Blake drove news media around the 480-acre camp in a golf cart. The 19-year-old Bluffton, S.C. native escorted reporters like a professional tour guide, showing off both campsites as well as their new multi-purpose baseball/softball field and soccer field and confidence course.
Other amenities include the 40-acre Eagle Lake, which he said provides a variety of aquatic fun -- row boating, motor boating, sail boating canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Black Creek camp also has archery, rifle, shotgun, trap, and skeet ranges, handicraft shelter, ecology area, chapel, campfire circle and dining pavilion.
“I got my Eagle Scout last year, in October, I think,” Blake said. “I’ve been scouting for eight years.”
Other scouts were preparing their own lunch, a favorite called a “hobo meal,” which starts with a frozen hamburger patty on a sheet of tin foil. Tenderfoot Gus Hensley, 10, approached his hobo meal like a craft project, first sprinkling the meat with salt and pepper then hot sauce. He then added chopped onions and sliced carrots before folding the foil around the ingredients and taking it to Eagle Scout Cameron Holsclaw, 18.
“The hobo meal is something quick and easy for scouts to make,” Holsclaw said as he used a long set of tongs to place Hensley’s burger on the coals of a campfire. “Now, Gus, look where I’m placing your burger... You have to turn them every 10 minutes or so. It doesn’t take long. The hobo meal usually includes slices of potato too, but we ran out.”
Holsclaw said this was his fifth year working at a camp, his third year at Black Creek. Wearing a sea captain’s hat, Holsclaw seemed like he’d be more at home on the water, which is where most scouts were when scoutmasters and adult volunteers called them for lunch. Some lingered in water near the shore, on the dock or in boats. At least two swimmers were followed closely in a boat by an Eagle Scout as they swam two laps around the lake.
“They’re training,” said Tom Cardiff, Coastal Georgia Council CEO. “They do about half a mile each day, building themselves up for the Mile Swim Patch.”
Cardiff pointed at a large white, triangle in the lake, called the Iceberg. He said the floating climbing boulder has been popular with campers since last year. Black Creek Scout Camp opened in 2012. This year, two zip lines that drop scouts into the lake were added. The lake is one of the camp’s most popular features, he said.
In March, the former Coastal Empire Chapter merged with the Okefenokee Area Council to form the Coastal Georgia Council, which includes 21 counties. The Coastal Georgia Council includes Liberty and Long counties. Cardiff said the council has raised about $4 million for an indoor dining hall. They have the money, he said, now they will solicit construction bids.
He said they’re also building a 60-foot rappelling tower with its own climbing wall. The dining hall and rappelling tower should be complete by next year, he said.
“Next year, we’re going to start having camps at Camp Tolochee near Brunswick,” he said, explaining the 100-acre island camp is part of the former Okefenokee Area Council. “We wanted something for saltwater fishing, sailing and scuba diving -- high adventure stuff... There is a merit badge for scuba diving now. Black Creek is primarily for scouts 11-14 years old. Summer camps at Camp Tolochee will be mostly for scouts 15-18 years old.”