Boy Scout camp benefits from military aid

 GOV. PAUL LEPAGE TAKES A TOUR of Camp William Hinds in Raymond on Tuesday during distinguished visitors’ day. (De Busk Photo) NW dd30 Camp Hinds photo 4 A FUTURE DINING HALL is being constructed for the Boy Scouts of America Pine Tree Council as a group tours Camp William Hinds and learns about the U.S. military’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program. (De Busk Photo)

GOV. PAUL LEPAGE TAKES A TOUR of Camp William Hinds in Raymond on Tuesday during distinguished visitors’ day. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

RAYMOND – Capt. Kevin Wolff described what he referred to as “FOB Hinds” or fresh off the boat at Camp William Hinds.

The group of military personnel arrived in April, set up the tents and the generator farm — just like they would in the field. Then, it snowed. What an experience, he said.

Thank goodness, the hot meals were prepared by chefs in training instead of resorting to packaged rations.

The priority job was turning the camp’s Health Lodge into a four-season building so that it could be used during the winter. That project required putting in a heat source and included replacing the floors and the lighting. The Health Lodge renovations were completed by June 10, Wolff said.

Currently, a new dining facility is under construction.

As Wolff works in his leadership role of Officer in Charge (OIC), he has received real-life experience in civil engineering. He is one of many individuals in the U.S. military to take part in the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program.

This year, he is part of the duration staff, the group that stays from April through late August. Meanwhile, a total of 460 people from all branches of the military will arrive at Camp Hinds for two-week rotations. And, they will put valuable work experience under their belts.

On Tuesday, Wolff shared his story during distinguished visitors’ day at Camp William Hinds, the 300-acre camp for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Pine Tree Council. Probably the most well-known visitor was Gov. Paul LePage, who toured the construction site for the new dining hall.

The camp, located off Plains Road in Raymond, has waterfront access to Parker Pond and to Tenny River. The camp brings Boy Scout Troops from all over the nation to experience outdoors life in Maine.

The IRT program, which sometimes assists Habitat for Humanity as well as the Boy Scouts of America, has a five-year partnership with Camp Hinds. The program is now in its third year.

 GOV. PAUL LEPAGE TAKES A TOUR of Camp William Hinds in Raymond on Tuesday during distinguished visitors’ day. (De Busk Photo) NW dd30 Camp Hinds photo 4 A FUTURE DINING HALL is being constructed for the Boy Scouts of America Pine Tree Council as a group tours Camp William Hinds and learns about the U.S. military’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program. (De Busk Photo)

A FUTURE DINING HALL is being constructed for the Boy Scouts of America Pine Tree Council as a group tours Camp William Hinds and learns about the U.S. military’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program. (De Busk Photo)

So far, workers have built a new camp road that is wider and safer, an additional parking lot, a leach field and a new sports field. The shooting ranges were relocated and upgraded to state-of-the-art status. The foot bridge over the Tenny River was repaired, and is rumored to be strong enough for a tank to drive across it.

The entire project is an example of how people can work together as a team to accomplish something that leaves behind a legacy. The infrastructure will be used by scouts for generations to come, while the military personnel take away real-life experiences that can be applied to a career.

Another big wow is the generosity of the in-kind donations from Maine-based businesses, according to Kristina Jenkins, with the BSA Pine Tree Council.

“The in-kind donations exceed the monetary donations,” Jenkins said.

The in-kind donations of materials and services are gifts that add up to more than $600,000. Meanwhile, the dollars raised total almost $500,000, she said.

The doors of opportunity that are opened at the camp are vast, she said, citing biathlon competitions, winter camping, ice-fishing — activities now doable with the heated four-season structures in place, Jenkins said.

Pine Tree Council’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Scout Executive Eric Tarbox said that having the IRT program in place created the perfect conditions to jumpstart more in-kind donations.

“We would never have been able to afford the labor and the materials and the effort, the experience that the military brings to the table. We are not only helping them train around the world to do their job,” he said. “But, we are also enabling a facility that we would never be able to build ourselves.”

Tarbox was especially pleased that the original dining hall with all its nostalgia was left standing rather than being torn down or renovated. The future dining hall, with a nurses’ station and a full basement for indoor activities, should be completed this fall so that Boy Scouts attending Camp Hinds next year can have memory-making experiences in that facility.

During the tour of the pedestrian bridge over the Tenny River, Tarbox was thankful that Central Maine Power (CMP) removed the hazardous power lines over the water

Longtime Mainer Horace Horton, who headed the fundraising campaign, said a big plus for Camp Hinds is that two large parcels of land on the other side of the river have been put into conservation with the help of Loon Echo Land Trust.

“We are preserving both sides of the Tenny River. That preserves and protects the watershed, the river and Panther Pond,” he said.

Horton was impressed but not surprised that local contractors and banks responded with such generosity to fundraising requests.

“This is a once-in-a-century opportunity. We are the only Boy Scout camp in the nation” that is partnering with the IRT program,” Horton said.

“We love having the military here. Thank you to our military troops for coming to Camp Hinds,” he said during the briefing at the beginning of the day.

“It’s all about the lure of coming to Maine,” he said.

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