Scouts share developments at Camp Tuscarora with club
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 7, 2009 1:46 PM
Mark Metzler, left, director of the Boy Scouts' Wayne County Torhunta District, talks with Goldsboro Rotary Club member John T. Bell after giving the club an update on the Tuscarora Council's Camp Tuscarora in Johnston County.
For the Boy Scouts of America Tuscarora Council, 2008 was a good year. Adding more than 1,500 new recruits to their rolls, council leadership credited Tuesday the steps taken since 2007 for the dramatic increase.
Primary among those steps has been the council's focus on capital improvements at its Camp Tuscarora in Johnston County.
"It's a beautiful place, and we've finally started putting money into it," said Mark Metzler, director of the Torhunta District in Wayne County, speaking at the Goldsboro Rotary Club meeting Tuesday.
Among the areas that have either been built or renovated are a new BB gun range for Cub Scouts, a new main shelter, an expanded rifle range and a refurbished outdoor basketball court.
Also being renovated this year is the camp's dining hall, where a new kitchen is being installed, and the health lodge, which has had central heating and air conditioning added, as well as new floors and additional outdoor decks for use during first aid classes.
Other recent renovations have been made to the camp's headquarters building, giving adult volunteers a place with Internet access and office space.
"There was no cell phone service and one pay phone in the middle of the field and no Internet access," Metzler said. "Now people who are giving up a week of their time to come to camp with their kids don't have to automatically be detached from their working world."
Also added at the headquarters building was an emergency public address system to supplement the weather alert pagers all Scout masters already wear.
More recent renovations have been made to the camp's trading post, which doubled in size, added central heat and air and added arcade games, as well as ping-pong and foosball tables.
But, Metzler said, perhaps the most significant improvements to the camp were the BMX and skate parks, as well as the new aquatic center.
He admitted that some people questioned how such additions, particularly the BMX and skate parks, fit in with scouting's traditional mission. But, he explained that those activities are part of what potential scouts are looking for -- according to a survey given out to members of the Tuscarora Council.
"They have helped us with our recruiting," Metzler said. "If you put money into your facility, it'll attract kids to come, and that's what we've started to do, and it's paying dividends."
He told Rotary members about how excited students get when he gives presentations in school and these features are highlighted.
Both the BMX and skate parks, he explained, are professionally graded and designed, and so far, have excellent safety records.
Also exciting students is the updated aquatic facility, including new docks, new sand and a new 30-foot tall, 100-foot long water slide -- paid for with the help of an endowment from the facility's namesake, Dr. Ralph Bland. Other improvements were paid for through capital campaigns and the use of monies previously budgeted.
"These are kind of the hooks to get students in," Metzler said. "Then we get them into programs like character development. It's tough to compete with sports, but when you can show them all this, it helps."
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