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.
Just a quick update for you on the construction going on at NorCal Adventure Area. For those of you not familiar with the property, NorCal is our newest camp in this area. It’s located in Dobbins, which is about 30 miles from both Marysville and Grass Valley. In the past, the high elevation of our other camps have limited the amount of time we can have large activities and trainings in the mountains because of snow. NorCal is going to be a wonderful home to a lot of really fun activities like Woodbadge and Cub activities. If you would like to read more about the vision of this property, please click here to download the Vision book.
We’re really excited for what is in store at NorCal and for everything that has been done thus far!
Right now, we have two big projects going on at the property- the construction of the Training Center and the camp utilities.
This is going to be where we will be holding a lot of large trainings like Woodbadge and NYLT. The building itself is patterned after one of the training centers at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It’s going to have 2 main large training rooms as well as an office/storage area.
Right now, the footings are being poured for the foundation. The construction company we are working with hopes that we will have the steel structure of the building done by the end of the month and the interior of the building will be finished in July.
While utilities may not seem like the most fun feature, it’s important to have them in place for everything we will be doing in the future. Rather than do the process piecemeal, we are putting in the main lines all at once. This includes water, electric, and fire lines. To start us off, the crew is digging a trench on the inside of the circular camp road. Once they get that done, they will be installing the new water tanks near the spring and will be working to install a septic system for the Training Center.
As you can see from my poorly drawn map here, they have almost completed the main trenches around camp, as well as lines going toward our new bathrooms and campsite pavilions!
There’s lots of movement going on up here and we’re excited to see you and your family here at camp!
Now that we’re getting out of March, things are starting to dry out and we can start construction at NorCal once again!
Starting this week, work has started again on the Training Center. They are digging out the footings for the foundations and should have those done very soon. Our contractor is hopeful that we should have the building complete by the end of April. This will be an amazing resource for programming and training for the Scouters in our area and we are excited to see it coming together. More pictures and videos to come!
The Welcome Center is in the final stages of completion. We need to get a few more items done before we can get them officially signed off but things are looking great. Most notably, we could use an electrician to help us get the office of the Welcome Center up and running. If you know anyone that could help, please contact Greg Anderson at 435-799-5308 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Once this building is permitted by the state, the Welcome Center Office will serve as an important place for campers to receive customer service and for camp leaders to run the administrative parts of their camp.
While it’s not the most glamourous part of construction, utilities are the backbone of camp. The same day we started construction on the building this week, a separate crew began work on our electric, sewage, water, and fire lines that will make our new building work. They will be focusing first on getting the sections that have to do with making the Training Center operational and will branch out after that. So far, they have begun digging holes for water and septic tanks and have begun to dig the trenches for the lines to go through. While this project may take longer than the Training Center construction, it should wrap up this summer.
There are a lot of great things on the horizon for NorCal. We are currently in the process of working out some of the details and funding for the pond and a new bathroom/shower complex. This will not only allow us to bring in some new program opportunities but it will help make camp more accessible for the new Scouting families we’ll be getting in the fall. We’ll keep you updated as we get closer.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
The movement of the development of camp has been an amazing process to see. We are excited to have Scouts and leaders up here to enjoy this amazing location. To make this better for them, as well as to help logistics along, we could use some volunteer help. As mentioned before, we need an electrician to help us with the Welcome Center. In addition to that, we also need help with some other things around camp. Here are a couple of projects we could use some help on:
Painting/Minor Repairs in the Welcome Center
Help in Organizing Tools and Equipment in the Maintenance Building
Debris Removal in the Central Area
Cleaning help for the Kitchen and Warehouse
We are very excited for all these changes at this property. This will be a world-class facility we can be proud of. We will post another update for you next week!
Even during these uncertain times, progress is still being made at NorCal–this past Friday a small group of GEC board members held an outdoor Board of Directors meeting to celebrate a number of achievements. With masks on and appropriately spaced camping chairs, the board conducted a ribbon cutting of the new Welcome Center, broke ground on the new Training Center site and conducted the first training related event on the site–a Wood Badge beading for three members of the Beaver Patrol from course WE-47-18-1.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.