1st time collaboration:
Glen to host 100-year Scout Camporee
It's a safe bet that William Palmer, who liked kids and trails, would have enjoyed the Boy Scout Conservation Camporee planned Friday through Sunday, May 14-16
at his Glen Eyrie home.
The occasion is the 100-year anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which was created a year after the Colorado Springs founder's death.
Through an agreement between BSA's Pikes Peak Council and the Navigators organization (which has owned and operated the 800-acre estate as a conference ministry for more than half a century), about 190 Scouts and 60 BSA leaders are set to camp overnight on a sports field downhill from Palmer's castle Friday and Saturday. In addition, as part of what promises to be a lasting collaboration with the Navigators, the Scouts - trained and led by experienced area crew leaders - are scheduled to spend six hours Saturday and four hours Sunday upgrading segments of Glen Eyrie's eight miles of trail.
The improvements will be appreciated by more than just the property's owners. The Navigators organization allows public hiking on its trails, as long as the users sign up in advance (at 634-0808 or gleneyrie.org.)
The Camporee marks the first time Glen Eyrie has opened itself up to such a large outdoor event as well as the first time the non-profit Christian organization has worked with the Scouts.
“We really are excited about it happening,” said Jack McQueeney, who has been executive director of Glen Eyrie for 10 of his 25 years with the Navigators - not to mention a Boy Scout himself, a former pack leader (Howbert Elementary) and proud father of a son (Cole) who earned Eagle Scout honors last year.
He sees the collaboration as a natural, and not just because of the trail enhancements: “At the Glen we are committed to the development of individuals,” he said, “and this is a prime opportunity for young men to come in and through hard work see what it is to be a responsible citizen in the community and the importance of that.”
Bob Johnson, a long-time area Boy Scout leader and trail-working volunteer who organized the event for the BSA's Pikes Peak Council, said he has been impressed with the overall response he's received. All the available Camporee Scout and adult leader slots have been filled, Glen Eyrie staff people have worked closely with his group, and donations from local businesses have been generous. The only last-minute issue has been finding trail crew leaders, so he was working on that this week.
In general, Johnson is thrilled at being part of “so momentous an occasion,” as he described it. “I think the kids are going to have a ball.”
Along with camping in a particularly scenic location and learning about trail work, participating Scouts and adults will also receive a special Camporee patch, have the chance to earn badges and service hours, meet other groups and individuals involved in outdoor preservation, get a tour of the castle and eat plenty of food that will be brought to them with the help of Glen Eyrie people. They will even get to use sanitation facilities in a nearby Glen building (but no showers).
The hosts are also providing all the trail-work supplies, including rocks and logs, noted Toby Reed of Glen Eyrie. He pointed out that Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs, “initially developed the trail system” that the Scouts will be working on. “He'd hike and ride his horse on them,” he said. The trails have not received a lot of attention in recent years, and most of the work will address drainage and safety issues, he added.
As for what Palmer might think of the Scouts, “he was huge on inviting kids out to the castle,” Reed said.
What Johnson would like to see is the “momentous occasion” continuing. He's offered to bring Scouts and trained trail workers up to the Glen in the future as well, and McQueeney likes the idea. “The developing relationship we have with the Scouts will be ongoing,” he said. “They want to take care of our trails, and we want to make sure they're taken care of.”
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