EAST MANATEE — Camp Flying Eagle dodged the developers, and is now blossoming as a Boy Scout camp behind hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
In the last 18 months, the Boy Scout camp has thrived on $200,000 in donations that have been used for a number of renovations.
The public is invited to an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday to showcase the ongoing restoration of the camp that was established in 1929 just off Upper Manatee River Road.
“The people should be able to touch, taste, feel and see all those new things,” said camp master B. J. “Red Dog” Maynard, “and they should know about all the efforts of the county, its citizens and the cooperation the county has put forward to save the camp.”
Two years ago, the Southwest Florida Boy Scouts Council, the Boys Development Association (the original landowners) and the Manatee County commissioners were embroiled in a controversy after it was revealed that develoeprs were making offers for the property.
Scout officials said while the property was not actively being marketed, they were duty bound to relay offers to the Scout Council.
Eventually, the Scout Council pledged that if Flying Eagle were ever sold, it would build a new camp farther east, but within 10 miles of the Manatee County line.
Todd Greene, park ranger, said Monday that there has been a lot of healing and community support since the dispute was put to rest.
So far, renovations have included air-conditioning in the dining hall and kitchen, $23,000 of kitchen equipment, a 1,600-seat capacity amphitheater with a handicapped-accessible reviewing section, renovation of the outdoor cooking and training area, an entrance portal from the parking lot, replacement of seats in the outdoors chapel, bathroom and overhead shelters in the shooting complex, a pavilion in the Hild campsite, repair of the camp’s main entrance, a 12-station radio communication warning system, and more.
The grand opening of a 72-foot horizontal climb- ing wall and a Leadership Challenge Course are scheduled for Friday through Sunday.
“I don’t know whether there have been more scouts using the camps, but there’s certainly not a down-flux in attendance,” Maynard said.
“The good thing is that those who continue to use it now have a much safer environment and a more productive environment with the new facilities.”
To reach Camp Flying Eagle, take State Road 64 East to Upper Manatee River Road. Turn left (north) and go approximately five miles. The camp will be on your left. Follow the signs to the parking lot.
Nick Walter, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7013.