A dirt road and a swamp.
This is how it was remembered in its early days.
However, focused vision and concerted effort have transformed the Black Creek Scout Preserve into a 384-acre site that thousands of leaders converge on every year on Poor Robin Road in Screven County.
To count Lou Sisson among those who saw the Scout camp in its primitive years before the construction of a dining hall; Zipline; high ropes climbing wall; shooting sports; and all water activities related to the 45 acre Eagle Lake.
But Sisson is impressed with the evolution of BCSR as the new Director and CEO of the Coastal Georgia Council looks forward to the future of the camp and wants the location to be more with the community.
âWe want to be a community partner. We want it to be used well and loved, âsaid Sisson, who returned with his family to the Statesboro area after scout-related stays in Hinson, North Carolina, in the Atlanta area, and with the Golden Gate Council in San Francisco, California.
Sisson had only seen photographs of the transformation of the camp until he looked at them firsthand this month.
âIt’s an amazing camp, but it was hard to imagine it back then,â said Sisson, who was about to leave South Georgia in 2007 when the former Blue Heron Boy Scout Camp in Riceboro took over. been sold. This camp 100 miles south of Sylvania was swallowed up by developers as a golf course and luxury homes were built by the wealthy, including some of the Hollywood elite like Ben Affleck.
On one of his first occasions to meet council members, Sisson spoke to the Boy Scout leaders, other Scout leaders and the Sylvania phone during a breakfast on June 17 in the dining room. Reese’s over $ 3 million on camp property as BCSR hosted its 10th annual summer camp. The Screven County camp was one of only two in Georgia to host a summer scout camp during the restrictive COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
âIt’s one of the best dining halls in Scouting,â said Sisson. Groups like the Screven County Chamber of Commerce are among the organizations that have used the Reese Dining Hall that overlooks Eagle Lake in the camp, which is now in its 11th year of operation in Screven County.
The dining room, named after Jack and Gretchen Reese who paid $ 2.5 million for the project, offers the feel of a rustic cabin in a relaxed setting that is equipped with a high quality sound system and features. ‘cuisine that would rival many multi-star hotels.
Succeeding Clif Morris as Director on June 1, Sisson and his wife Elisabeth are graduates of Georgia Southern University. The couple have two children – Otto, 4, and Elise, 3.
Sisson said advancing professionally in Scouting was the norm, but he and his wife “were always looking to come back.”
âAs soon as it became open, I applied and it worked,â Sisson said of the open board CEO position. “And things have certainly been good so far.”
While the future is uncertain, Sisson said he and his family would like to make it an extension of the council that covers 22 counties. Sisson is the third cadre since the opening of Black Creek Scout Reservation.
Camp facilities were planned as part of a master plan, and Sisson said a STEM pavilion, chapel and other facilities are on the route. However, the new CEO said it was time for now to preserve the quality of the existing structures.
âThe first priority is to keep these facilities in the best possible condition,â said Sisson, thanking current ranger Jacob Follin and his staff. âWe want to be here for a while. Consistency has a lot to do with it. “
Recently, the camp has been the subject of a logging plan because the funds collected through the sale of wood will be reinvested in the camp. The council, Sisson said, is also working to improve its other camp at Tolochee in Brunswick and potentially add a part-time person to manage this coastal camp.
Programs continue within the board as the National Youth Leadership Training or NYLT is scheduled for December. Kodiak will be in the fall and Wood Badge in the spring of 2022. These programs are in addition to traditional Scouting events and campsites.
âCOVID has been a cloud,â Sisson said of the lifestyle-altering pandemic. âWe think the clouds are passing and the air is clear. Programs are marked with an asterisk for security reasons. At this point, we believe we will be able to remove this asterisk in six to 18 months.
âWe’re getting past that cloud and really stepping up our schedule,â Sisson said.
The board executive said the financial situation in 2020 was “difficult for us”.
âWe were able to tighten our belts and keep our heads above water,â he said. âOur funding has not returned to what it was before COVID. We are not 100% what we were before COVID, but much better than where we were. “
Sisson said the number of Cubs âhas suffered a lot locally and will naturally hurt us for a long time. We’ve lost half of our Cubs, but we haven’t lost that many Cub packs.
He said that many boys and girls packs aimed at young people under the age of school “are trying to prepare for this coming school year“.
Sisson asked people to support packs to help them increase their numbers.
âWe are on solid ground and we have our bases,â he said. “We believe we can recover much faster than expected and faster than the other boards around BSA.”