Starting today, about 10,000 area scouts can call Jamaica home.
The Colonial Virginia Council of the Boy Scouts of America has officially opened their long-awaited Bayport Scout Reservation in the Jamaica section of Middlesex County. About 250 campers were to arrive today and more than 2,500 total are expected in weeklong stays throughout the summer, said Dick Collins, the Colonial Virginia Council's chief executive.
The sprawling 300-acre riverside encampment seems ideally positioned to provide scouts engaging in merit badge and adventure programs ample respite from the bustle of Hampton Roads.
It's a homecoming for the troops who have been in limbo since their old James City County digs - Camp Chickahominy - was sold for $5.4 million.
For more than 40 years Chickahominy's 737-acres served area scouts before its remoteness fell victim to encroaching development that prompted the 2004 sale.
Since then, a capital campaign raised all but about $4 million of the Bayport reservation's first-phase price tag of $14 million. Fundraising efforts will continue for several more years to gather the remainder needed to cover initial construction and two future phases that would further increase capacity and programs offered, Collins said.
"Long term, it's being designed for a Cub Scout camp, a Boy Scout camp and a high adventure base," Collins said. "Being a new scout reservation, we'll see what works and what doesn't so we can improve as we go along."
Central to it all, is the Birdsong Scout Center: a 16,000-square-foot, heated and air-conditioned, multi-purpose building adorned with rope-wrapped wood pilings, large windows and a rooftop cupola to simulate a waterfront setting. Offices, meeting rooms, a medical lodge and a dining hall capable of seating over 400 are all contained in the facility created for year-round use.