Boy Scouts making progress on Camp Indian Trails improvements

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

JANESVILLE—Alex Tyms uses the game Monopoly to compare today's Camp Indian Trails with the camp that existed before $650,000 in improvements started 18 months ago.

“It's taken a couple of our old camp sites and facilities that used to be less desirable and turned them from Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues into Park Place and Boardwalk," said the Scout executive, who leads the Glacier's Edge Council Boy Scouts of America.

The 173-acre camp sits along the edge of the Rock River on North River Road. The biggest visible change is the clearing of 9 acres to create a 5-plus-acre pond. Two anonymous donors are covering the $550,000 cost.

The goal was to have the pond finished for this summer's camp. But a delayed work permit pushed the project's start date to last fall, and bad weather added other obstacles.

Now it will be next summer before the pond can be used, Tyms said.

“The wettest August in 40 years slowed construction," he said. "We're about two months behind where we'd like to be. We should be able to get caught up if the weather cooperates during the next three to four weeks.”

Much of the excavation work has been done. Construction crews are scheduled to work on the pond this week, Tyms said, installing drainage for overflow along with a clay liner.

The 26-foot-deep pond has visually changed the landscape and will help the Boy Scouts grow camp attendance, Tyms said.

“When kids come to camp, one of the things they want is the aquatics," he said. "The pool just doesn't meet the needs of today's camp program.

"By creating this pond, it's creating a year-round program feature to be used for fishing, swimming and boating in the summer, ice fishing and skating in the winter.”

Rain and snow runoff from the 600 acres that naturally drain into the property will fill the pond.

The council expects to use the pond for boating in 2018, but it depends on the weather and how much rain falls. The pond also will be stocked with fish.

Meanwhile, the existing 110,000-gallon pool will be used for recreation and to teach swimming skills, life-saving techniques, snorkeling and life guarding to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venture Crew members.

However, the 61-year-old pool leaks and has needed repairs since the 1990s.

“We'll start tearing the pool out some time after the 2018 season if everything goes well,” Tyms said.

Council property was sold to pay for $100,000 in other improvements that started in November 2015.

They include fresh paint in the dining area, new well water pressure tanks and water heaters in Allen Hall, new steel roofs on four lodges, a new ceiling and LED lights at one lodge, and a new plow truck with a salter.

Projects still planned include a new 4,000-square-foot trading post and multipurpose building.

“We're working on the design and might not be able to start until late August or early September,” Tyms said.

A new shower house in Clayton Rice Center also is on the table.

“We're just finishing design and bid work, trying to get final numbers and hope to have that constructed by the first of July,” he said.

However, new exterior doors for Allen Hall will have to wait.

“This still needs to be done, but using the money for the shower facility was a better use of resources,” Tyms said.

The improvements are the first major construction projects the council has undertaken since 1991, when Allen Hall was built.

“It's created a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,” Tyms said.

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