One Year Later, Boy Scout Camp Surviving Storm

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

SWOOPE -- "Be prepared" is part of the Boy Scouts' motto. But at Camp Shenandoah, nothing could prepare them for the damage they saw one year ago.

Nearly 300 scouts left Camp Shenandoah under sunny skies on Saturday morning. It was a stark contrast to the scene there after last year's derecho.

"[We] woke up to see devastation," said Greg Hajduk, the camp commissioner.

"Every time you walked to a new area of camp, it was just 'i don't know what's going to be there anymore,' and 'i don't know if anything's going to be there, what's going to be destroyed...'" said Pete Echols, one of the program directors at the camp.

Trees were down all across the camp, some even blocking the narrow trails winding through it. Even today you can still see the damage in some parts of the camp. The camp was closed for a week while volunteers helped clean up the mess the storm left behind.

Hajduk said much of the cleanup work involved chainsawing.

"It was mostly, if you could use a chainsaw, if you were certified and had your own, come on out, start chopping stuff up," he said. "Anybody who couldn't use a chainsaw lined up and started moving brush."

Michael Reagan, the camp's ranger, won't forget that night. He has a medal to remind him: the Honor Medal - one of the Boy Scouts' highest honors. He went out into the storm to bring a sick scoutmaster to safety. He found him huddled inside a bath house.

Reagan said what he did is nothing any other scout or scout leader would not do.

"We live by a code," he said. "When people are in trouble, when people are in need, we help them."

It is lessons like these that scouts have learned this week at camp - just like the group there one year ago. And just like the groups still to come through.

"You can't kill camp," Hajduk said. "We'll be around for awhile."

The camp now uses a text alert system to warn troop leaders and staff when a strong storm might be coming, helping keep those on the ground safe if another storm or derecho were to come through again.


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