NorCal Adventure Area

The Golden Empire Council, Boy Scouts of America, is the proud owner of an 83-acre property in Yuba County. The Council plans to develop the low altitude camp, the NorCal Adventure Area (or simply “NorCal” for short), over the next few years to serve the more than 16,000 youth in the 16 counties we serve.

The Council plans to relocate its training facilities for both youth and adults to this location offering National Youth Leader Training, Wood Badge, Lifeguard training and much more. On the weekends, the property will also play host to Cub Scout Family Camp and District Camporees. Merit badge programs will also be offered on a periodic basis.


This BLOG, primarily updated by Barry Shurtz, Council Volunteer, is dedicated to keeping everyone in the Council informed on the progress of camp construction projects and other NorCal activities.

If you’re interested in being a guest blogger and writing about your outings and adventures at NorCal please contact Barry Shurtz.


NorCal Program Offerings

Last week, we discussed the many different program options that will come with the construction of the lake here at NorCal. We have previously discussed the climbing tower that is ready to be reconstructed, atvs and more. Today, we wanted to focus on one you probably have not considered. Chickens.

One of the coolest things about being around Scouts is their desire to help. We get offered some pretty fun stuff at times to assist with our programs and we greatly appreciate it! Occasionally, we have to say no, but when someone offers a paddles, personal flotation devices, a climbing tower, or a great boat, we love to be in a position to say yes! So, recently, we were offered a chicken coop. Hmmmm….chickens. We love eggs but how does this fit into NorCal program offerings? Easily!

It is going to be fantastic to have chickens at NorCal. There is the obvious benefit of eggs but it is more than that. When you have the opportunity to show young people new things, we should take it. Many of our Scouts are familar with farm animals, life outside of cities, and how the food chain works, but so many have never had this experience. Supervised learning experiences are always welcome and we know our younger Scouts will be a good audience for some of our knowledge disguised as fun.

There are many benefits to having chickens available at our camp. The caretaker will be responsible for their upkeep and well being but there is many things to help our youth grow. First, there’s the opportunity for children to make connections with our natural world. As we discussed above, many of our youth live in urban settings and have not had an opportunity to be around chickens. It also helps children understand where our food chain. Outside of that, they can learn many basic life skills and lessons like:

How we all fit in the world together. Respect for living creatures. Empathy through caring for another being. Connections between everything in nature. Responsibility that it takes to care for an animal. Animal kindness. Life cycle observations from eggs to chick to chickens.

We cannot wait!

So thank you to all that donate program supplies. We will get back to being able to pick them up soon. While we might not need everything, you never know what great program ideas can be created when you mix in a little imagination.

Future Program Opportunities

One of the great things about the NorCal Adventure Area was our ability to start from a blank slate. We could add almost anything we imagined and our Vision Team dreamed big. Guided by discussions with our volunteers, it is amazing to see the outcome of those dreams. One of the main areas of focus is the center of the facility, which houses a huge play field, activities lake, sports facilities, a mammoth playground, and the kitchen/dining pavilion. The lake and downtown portion of camp is going to be a fantastic place for youth to play, socialize, gain a bit of independence, and more, all under the watchful eye of their parents from pavilions in the campsites that will ring the entire downtown area.

Right now, it looks like a lot of dirt and we have shown you plenty of pictures of red dirt. But the trees are gone and the stumps are being removed. The plans for the dam have been drawn and are being reviewed by our engineers to ensure the safety of our Scouts and Scouters. The pool will soon be removed completely and the Adirondacks in the middle of camp are gone. We have plans to convert one of the restroom facilities currently by the dining hall to a fishing shack and our plans even include a small bridge and waterfall down into the lake.

We are very fortunate that we have two waterways that feed into our lake and we are excited to offer a year round experience. In the summer months, the zero-entry sandy beach will be home to games and swimming. Fishing will abound as mentioned above. We also will have the opportunity for our campers to use canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and more and are already working to turn the current garage into a boat house to keep our equipment in good repair and safe when not in use.

We have removed an old lean to from the back of the building this week. With the installation of sliding barn doors on the side, the facility will be able to house multiple canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, corcls and more fun items for play on the lake. With that comes plenty of paddles and personal flotation devices on hand. The shop currently is built with a back room that will work perfectly for those items. Campers will work with the Camp Masters for the boat house to be unlocked and then carry the equipment down the short walk to the waterfront for a day of fun. In the evening, the program equipment will be returned and secured for the safety of our campers.

It is fun to watch this dream becoming a reality.

When sticks of wood become rooms…

The sun is shining today. I hope that it is shining where you are as well. We all need some of those good vibes right now and we wish you were getting them at one of the Golden Empire Council Camps. We will be together again soon at Camp Lassen, Camp Winton and the NorCal Adventure Area. Hang in there everyone. We are especially lucky to have sunshine happening at NorCal right now. Big things are happening inside the Welcome Center and that means we can focus on the exterior.

In the last week, the entire Welcome Center has been insulated and now the drywall is going up. Suddenly the framed walls are really walls and the rooms are solidifying.

They will be done with the drywall install by Monday, inspection on Tuesday and then the finishing takes place. There are certain steps in any project that make it seem closer and real and this certainly is one.

While the drywall goes up, it is the perfect time for us to finish the exterior work that needs to be done. We are prepping for the rock finish, installing a few more shingles, pouring the back porch, building a few more retaining type walls, buying plants for landscaping, installing electrical and water feeds to the house, and painting. We cannot wait for the big reveal in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Power is here and just in time!

PG&E was out late last week to set a new power pole and transformer for the NorCal Adventure Area. Once set, they were able to tie in the power to our own switch gear which will allow us to control the power to all of the campsites and program areas at the NorCal Adventure Area.

The Eagle has landed!

Utilities are large part of our spring/summer plans for NorCal. They include domestic water, fire water, and electricity. The plan for each is to have a system that rings the entire complex around the loop drive that allows us to access all of the campsites and program areas. We also can now pull wires to all of our buildings and other facilities in the middle of camp that will be staying until Phase III.

Controlling our own electrical needs is a huge step in the transition for our project. It allows new items like the septic system changes that are being implemented for the Cooks Cabin and kitchen which is a required for the lake construction. Over the last several weeks, we have also begun the stump removal from the middle of camp as well as doing the prep work to remove all of the concrete pads left over from the Adirondack buildings.

The much needed rain has slowed progress on turning dirt, but there is plenty of planning and supply ordering happening during these down times. The Welcome Center also goes on as planned. The maintenance building now has power and it is much quieter without the need for the generator. The new entrance plans are being drawn. The lake design is with our engineers for review. The utility installation pieces are being ordered. We are fortunate that construction is allowed to continue during these trying times and look forward to an update next week to share the updates to the Welcome Center.

So why is there snow at our “no snow” camp?

The posting of our beautiful snow pictures over the last few months has left many wondering….why we are building a camp that still gets snow if the whole point is year round camping? Perhaps in our haste to explain, we sometimes use terms a little too causally that sort of mean what we want, but perhaps not completely.

The NorCal Adventure Area is located at approximately 2600 feet in elevation. That means while we sometimes get snow, it doesn’t stick around for long. We get to enjoy all of the seasons fully at NorCal and do not have the access issues that we have at Camp Winton, Camp Lassen and Camp Cole. We also do not have as much trouble keeping our water system from freezing and everything tends to melt pretty fast once the snow stops.

Does that mean we will never have snow? Obviously not as we have already had two beautiful snow events this winter and probably will have more. Does it mean we will never have access issues? Well, if it snows on Friday night, we might suggest that everyone wait until Saturday morning to come to camp just to be safe. So occasionally, for very brief periods of time, we might have access issues. However, it will never be the type of snow issues where you can snowshoe into the second floor of the lodge at Winton or where the road to Camp Cole is not cleared until the week of July 4th (IF we are lucky!).

So while we might have snow, we will still be able to host units all year round which is our goal with our “Low Elevation” camp. And you are always welcome to come play in the snow once the roads are cleared after a storm! Happy winter!

Look for a post later this week on the progress on the NorCal Welcome Center!

Dancing Between Raindrops

The days leading up to Thanksgiving were nothing short of amazing for us here at the NorCal Adventure Area. Working as fast as possible to get the septic system in place, the concrete basement floor poured, the roof sealed, and the windows in place created a feeling of excitement with a bit a panic around here.

We got several inches of snow last Tuesday – Friday and it was beautiful. It is so quiet and peaceful when the snow covers the grounds. The beauty of it all is that it lasts just long enough to start to make you grumpy and then it melts. If you ever have a chance to come to NorCal in the snow, we would highly recommend it!

Did we make it? We have been able to get so much done! The septic system has been installed which was our biggest challenge with the weather changing. The tanks are huge and now we are set to tie in the Welcome Center when it is completed in the early spring without having to disturb the soil again in the wet season. We were also able to extend the hammerhead turnaround for the garage so you can back out cleanly. It looks great! Thanks Escheman Construction.

Next came the roof and getting things sealed from the top down. There are lots of bends, corners, and crevices in the roofline, so it took some time to get the wood in place and to get it covered with the lining that goes underneath the metal roof that will be installed soon. It looks fantastic and lots of care has been taken to ensure we will not have any leaks.

Today, the windows started to go in as the floor in the garage was poured. Before the next round of bad weather, it is important to get everything done that is weather dependent. The front porch for the office and for the office will be poured Thursday and the rest of the windows installed as well.

Still a lot to do but it has been nice these last couple of weeks to celebrate getting so much done. We certainly have a lot to be Thankful for this holiday season.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

We have so many updates on the Welcome Center and surrounding areas that we decided to do it with pictures. See below each shot for information. The logging is complete and the stumps are currently being removed. Hard to take good pictures of what is no longer there, but it certainly looks much better once it is complete and all smoothed back out. The grass is starting to sprout and the upcoming rains next week will certainly help it to grow.

The roof is on! The front porch is set with the galvanized beams and the concrete slab for the porch will be poured in the next 8 days.
Along with the porch of the Welcome Center, the porch for the Camp Office is also almost ready to be poured. It is going to be a great addition to our camp facilities to have an official place to check in, come for assistance etc.
The next big pour for the basement floor is also ready. That will happen on the 2nd and 3rd of December. After that, the stairs to the upper two floors can be put into place.
The Welcome Center of many angles. Just a shot to show you how complex the framing for the house was. It is a huge relief to get it all completed. The windows are on site and will be installed in the next week. ALL 36 of them!
In the right side of this photo, you can see yellow caution tape around part of the septic tank pits. Two tanks are being delivered on Monday and that work will be complete before the rains set in.

We will share pictures soon of the next concrete pours and window install. Lots to do inside, but with a roof on, all things are possible now.

Usage at NorCal – already happening!

One of the main goals for the NorCal Adventure Area is to offer our units an option for local camping and training. Events from weekend unit campouts, Council level trainings and other group activities are already occuring at NorCal, even while it is under construction. Just in this month alone, we have hosted a pack campout, National Youth Leadership Training and have an upcoming Leave No Trace Trainer event this weekend. It is wonderful to listen as the laughter and songs from a local Pack float across the property and the energetic shouts and celebration of 50 youth receiving top notch leadership training fill the air. With 3 National Youth Leadership Training courses per year, that is certainly making an impact on the youth we serve here in the Golden Empire Council.

So what exactly is National Youth Leadership Training (or NYLT as we commonly call it)? Per the official guide, it is:

National Youth Leadership Training is an exciting, action-packed program designed for councils to provide Boy Scout and Venturing Junior members with leadership skills and experience they can use in their home troops and in other situations demanding leadership of self and others.

The NYLT course centers around the concepts of what a leader must BE, what he must KNOW, and what he must DO. The key elements are then taught with a clear focus on HOW TO. The skills come alive during the week as the patrol goes on a Quest for the Meaning of Leadership.

NYLT is a six-day course. Content is delivered in a troop and patrol outdoor setting with an emphasis on immediate application of learning in a fun environment. Interconnecting concepts and work processes are introduced early, built upon, and aided by the use of memory aids, which allows participants to understand and employ the leadership skills much faster.

But what is it really? National Youth Leadership training is taught by youth to youth and the growth in both the staff and participants is beyond measure. NYLT offers a chance for our young men and women to learn leadership skills that many of us are exposed to at a much later time in our lives. During NYLT our Scouts experience growth both personally and with a team of new friends. National Youth Leadership Training offers an opportunity for our youth to learn better communication skills and give them the confidence needed so they can be successful in their lives. And…it provides it all with fun!

The laughter and fun during the course explodes across NorCal Adventure Area when we host groups like National Youth Leadership Training and the courses will continue to be offered here in the coming years. We offer 3 courses per year and know that there are more Scouts that will benefit from our great training. How does your Scout qualify? Be 13, First Class, have a recomendation from your ScoutMaster and sign up. More updates will be available soon on our NYLT website so bookmark it now. http://www.gec-bsa.org/training/nylt/62948

Want to reserve a weekend for your unit? Call the GEC Camping desk at 916-929-1417 or email us at Camping@GEC-BSA.org.

Boom! …and lots of dust

Do you have 45 seconds to spend? If so, watch this video of one of the final trees coming down at NorCal Adventure Area.

Why more trees? This is a small select cut that is removing all of the trees that are damaged and diseased. It also will remove the few trees that are remaining that are in the path of the road/utility work that is ready to be started. Once these trees are gone, the final rocking of the culverts will happen and we will be able to close out our timber harvest plan. It really was a matter of not being able to see the trees for the forest and now that the road is rough graded, it is much easier to see the final trees that must be cut.

We still have a ton of shade available and most of the Adirondack buildings that we will be producing this winter will be placed in the shade as well. The vision of the big activity field, playground, lake and more is really coming to life. Soon we will be able to break up the concrete pads left from our removal of the big bunkhouses as well as the storage building that remains in the center of camp.

The changes are moving forward quickly and like an amazing sculpture, each layer of excess removed allows the vision to come to life. Can you see it in your mind’s eye? Reality is not far behind.

What’s next? National Youth Leadership Training has its final weekend for the year this Friday. Join us Friday for a post on this amazing program and how our facility is helping to train the leaders of tomorrow.

Capping the Welcome Center

The ridge beam went in for the upper floor of the Welcome Center today. All of those rooms, so many walls, so much framing done, but with that one long beam, the whole thing suddenly comes together in a way that is hard to describe.

Almost magically, it looks like a home. A residence for caretakers for now and into the future. You can see the back porch area where friends will no doubt be invited over to share a hamburger while relaxing in the beauty of the NorCal Adventure Area. Both offices (residence and camp office) will have their ridge work in place soon. With a little luck, Mother Nature will let it stay dry just long enough to get the last walls done and the roofing on in the next 14 days.

For an idea of how much difference 24 hours can make, here is a photograph yesterday from the front of the house without the ridge beam.

Here we see the front porch with its entry door to the right for the residence. The master suite is on the left with the living room windows on the right. This side of the house faces Oregon Hill Road. The bedrooms upstairs are almost completely framed and there are more walls in place today that were not there yesterday when this picture was snapped. This beautiful building has been difficult with its unique framing. Each bedroom has different sized and angled walls making it a challenge to frame quickly. But now we are so close.

What else is going on? Yesterday and today saw loads of rock coming in for the culverts where we have water going under our camp loop drive/road. Our logging company is also gearing up to take out the last of the trees needed to complete the road areas and to protect our buildings. Next week we hope to have more pictures of these great events while they occur. Good weather willing…..