06/22/08 — Tuscarora Boy Scouts to dedicate new aquatic center Tuesday

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Tuscarora Boy Scouts to dedicate new aquatic center Tuesday

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 22, 2008 2:00 AM

The Tuscarora Boy Scouts Council will unveil its new Bland Aquatics Center on the waterfront at Camp Tuscarora on Tuesday.

An open house will be held at the facility west of Goldsboro from 3 until 5 p.m. with areas available for the guests who have been invited to see the boys enjoying various program facilities. Council Executive Harold Keller said the waterfront has always been the most popular part of the camp.

"The waterfront is the most utilized part of the camp. Some like some things, and some like others, but they all go to the waterfront. The only other place everybody uses is the dining hall," Keller said.

The council will hold a dedication ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at the Bland Aquatics Center, which was named after the late Dr. Ralph W. Bland, who bequeathed $1 million to the council.

As a boy, Bland was a member of Boy Scout Troop 1, the first in Goldsboro. The Goldsboro Rotary Club formed the troop in the early 1920s. Bland eventually became an Eagle Scout.

"In the Eagle ceremony, there comes a point where the Eagle is charged with the responsibility of giving back to Scouting," Keller said.

As the Scouts mature, Keller said, they often look back and realize how their lives were affected by Scouting.

"Dr. Bland felt that way -- so much so that he was inclined to leave a significant portion of his estate to Scouting so other boys would benefit from a program he loved so much," Keller added. "This dedication is being held to recognize his gift to our endowment."

Bland also gave parts of his estate to the law school at Wake Forest University, the First Baptist Church in Goldsboro and the American Cancer Society.

The $1 million gift to the council went into a trust account with the council using part of the interest.

"(The gift) will always and forever be there and provide a portion of the interest for us on a yearly basis," Keller said.

In Bland's honor, Keller said the council has completely redone the waterfront area by rebuilding the swimming and boating docks and building two new program shelters for teaching. The council brought in 40 truckloads of white sand to put out so the waterfront now looks like the beach.

A new addition to the waterfront is a four-story tower that has a 100 foot long vinyl suspended waterslide that leads into the lake.

"Imagine the kids shooting down at about 25-miles per hour, and it shoots them out 15 feet," Keller said. "We've had a couple staff members get on it. We had to test it out."

At the Bland Aquatics Center, the staff will be teaching the same merit badges that Bland earned en route to his Eagle badge -- swimming, lifesaving, canoeing and more.

"I think it's cool that boys have an opportunity to earn the same merit badges Dr. Bland did and that they still love doing it just like they did back in the 1930s," Keller said.