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Scout camps replacement opens
take down challenge
Pooler Troop 297 Scoutmaster Johnny Williams challenges his scouts to get him on the ground in 30 seconds to get some suspended privileges restored. They did it in 10 seconds. - photo by Randy C.Murray

The Coastal Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America has opened its camp near Sylvania that replaced Camp Blue Herron in Liberty County.

According to Barbara Foley, Exploring program manager and public relations director, Black Creek Scout Reservation covers 480 acres and includes Camp Tomochichi for Boy Scouts and Camp Toonahawie for Cub Scouts.

“We’ve got 118 scouts in camp today,” camp director Micah Donaldson said as he welcomed reporters for the camp’s media day Wednesday. “Right now and up until lunch, the scouts are in classes, usually 10 to 16 scouts to a group.”

Donaldson said the classes included the basic scout safety classes like learning to use a knife and ax or building a campfire. There was even a class on emergency management awareness that taught scouts what to do in extreme weather conditions, he said.

Tom Cardiff, scout executive for the council, escorted media around the reservation in an all-terrain vehicle. He pointed out Camp Tomochichi’s six completed campsites and talked about the archery range, hiking trails, rifle range, trap shooting range, handicraft shelter and other features.

Cardiff also compared Black Creek to Camp Blue Heron, the council’s old coastal reservation near Riceboro.

He said Blue Heron was 212 acres with a 20-acre pond, compared to Black Creek’s 480 acres and 40-acre pond called Eagle Lake. The land for Blue Heron was donated to the BSA in 1982 by Union Camp, now called International Paper, he said. The council sold the property to Hampton Island Preserve in 2008 for $8 million because the development was encroaching on the camp.

Cardiff said Eagle Lake was one of the first construction projects at Black Creek. He said the lake was drained in 2010 and the cypress and oak stumps on the bottom were removed while the dam was reconstructed.

After the water levels rose, he said the lake was stocked with fish. He chuckled as he talked about a mystery unfolding in the lake. Large catfish have been caught by scouts and staff members, but catfish were not among the fish species stocked.

The Cub Scout side of the lake already has a beach as well as docks, and the Boy Scout side will soon mirror it, he said.

One of the favorite sites for scouts is a covered shelter containing the reptile exhibit, where Davie Chafin, a volunteer with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, entertains and educates them about local and exotic snakes, turtles, alligators and amphibians. The highlight of his class is feeding time when one of the snakes is fed a live mouse.

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