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Camp Maple reborn: Coasties clear land for Scout camp

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David Barber (center), Kevin Couture (far right), and other volunteers from the Chief Petty Officers Association at U.S. Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City, volunteer their time to clear trees from land in Currituck that will be used by the Boy Scouts as a camping area, Wednesday.

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Thursday, September 14, 2017

MAPLE — Camping has always been a hallmark activity of the Boy Scouts. The great outdoors is their classroom, where they learn valuable life lessons.

Now, thanks to a group of volunteers from Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City, local Scouts will soon have a place of their own to go camping.

About 50 Coasties spent Wednesday sawing down trees and clearing brush on an estimated 10 acres of county-owned land in Currituck County. The site is located off U.S. Highway 158 in Maple near the Currituck YMCA and Currituck center of N.C. Cooperative Extension. It’s also in the same spot that used to be Camp Maple, a former Boy Scouts camp, said Jonathan Cooper.

Cooper, who is a lieutenant assigned to Base Elizabeth City, is also the district chairman for the Albemarle District of Boy Scouts of America. Cooper explained that about 10 years ago, the Scouts lost use of Camp Maple as the county began plans to develop the area. The Scouts have been given the OK to resume using the old site, he said.

“I can’t measure it,” Cooper said, of the significance of being able to have a local Scout camp. “We like to get the boys out, get the boys camping.”

Wednesday morning at around 9:30 a.m., the small road winding around the site was lined with dozens of Coasties’ parked vehicles. Off the road in the woods the familiar buzz and whirring of a chainsaw suddenly stopped.

“Timber!” someone shouted. That was followed by the rustling of limbs and branches as the felled tree crashed forward, hitting the damp earth with a muffled thud.

The new camp will include 17 campsites that will serve the 16 Boy Scout Troops and 15 Cub Scout Packs that make up the Albemarle District. The district includes seven counties in northeastern North Carolina and is part of the larger Tidewater Council.

“It’s essential, especially for our area,” Cooper said of the need for a local Scout camp. Otherwise, the current option is for area Troops to travel to Virginia for similar experiences.

“If you wanted to get in the woods, you’d have to go up north,” Cooper said.

The Boy Scouts have a “leave no trace” policy, Cooper said. That means all the trees and shrubbery getting cut down Wednesday will be remain at the site for use in later Scout projects.

“We’re trying to minimize the interruption we’re doing,” he said.

Cooper explained that only the trees that presented a safety hazard to campers were targeted for removal. The N.C. Forestry Service assisted by marking trees that were either dying or looked on the verge of falling, Cooper said.

He pointed to the stump of a tree that moments before had been cut down. Inside the tree it was rotten and crawling with red ants. Once a tree begins to rot from the inside it also begins to die from the top, hence the word “deadhead,” Cooper explained. Those dying limbs and trunks could fall and injure Scouts.

Tree debris that can’t be used will be chipped and the chippings will be used as surfacing for the trails linking the campsites, Cooper said. The Scouts also will be responsible for planting new trees and shrubs that are indigenous to the area.

The Boy Scouts serve boys in the 5th grade or who are 11 years old or older, while Cub Scouts are for boys ages 5-10, Cooper explained.

“Boy Scouts is critical to the moral- and value-based development of a young man,” he said.

One volunteer Wednesday was Command Master Chief Ann Logan, who is assigned to the Aviation Logistics Center. She said she was helping because it was a chance to give back to the community.

The Coast Guard encourages its members to spend time volunteering in their communities.

“One of the things we do, we always give back to the community we live in,” Logan said. “It’s important to give back to the community.”

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