For nearly 25 years, Boy Scouts across the Coastal Empire have made the trek to a secluded section of eastern Liberty County.
There, at Camp Blue Heron, Scouts can swim, hike, sail and shoot shotguns and bows. The Boy Scout Council has sold the property to the neighboring development, the upscale Hampton Island Preserve. In return, the developers also have given the Coastal Empire Council another $5 million, on top of the $8 million purchase price, to find a new home.
“It’s nice to have the ability to build a state-of-the-art camp and cater to serving the people who are going to be using it,” said Scout Hayden Cardiff.
Said Scout Cayman Cardiff: “It’ll be a nice facility, too.”
Union Camp donated the land to the Coastal Empire Council in 1982. It had been their hunting club. The camp is 212 acres and has a 23-acre lake known as Camp Bryant. Hampton Island developers said they want to maintain the nature of the property. Hampton Island is spread over 4,000 acres on islands along Liberty County’s coast.
“The Camp Blue Heron name will not be lost,” said Ron Leventhal, managing member of the Hampton Island Preserve, adding that section of the development will bear the name Blue Heron.
He also noted the “unique lifestyle community” of Hampton Island, which was founded to be environmentally sensitive.
“We are committed to fostering generational bonds and a deep connection and appreciation for the environment while instilling integrity and independence into today’s youth,” Leventhal said, “just like the Boy Scouts of America.”
The Scouts sold the property to the Hampton Island group last fall and will continue to use it through December. The Coastal Empire Council has started looking for suitable property for a new camp, preferably within an hour of Savannah, said Coastal Empire Council President Gene Gibson.
“We’ll take our time and be diligent and find the right property,” he said.
The Coastal Empire Council has a property committee and its desired tract will be from 500 to 1,000 acres. Not only will the new home likely be bigger than Camp Blue Heron, it also will be more modern.
“We’re looking to do something better,” Gibson said. “We’ll have newer facilities, newer dining hall facilities. We’ll do our best to make it a modern, state of the art camp.”
The current Scouts have enjoyed their time at Blue Heron and all the activities they have available. At Blue Heron, they’ve also had the chance to meet other Scouts.
“We get a chance to do things many other people can’t,” Hayden Cardiff said. “You get an opportunity to do so many things. You don’t get a chance to camp and canoe and shoot shotguns (at every camp).”
“It’s a great place to have fun,” said Cayman Cardiff.
The Boy Scouts will retain control of the Valentine Islands and will continue their summer sea kayaking program.
The $13 million from Hampton Island also will go toward an endowment, Gibson said, to help support the camp and services. It may not be enough to purchase and outfit the new home outright.
“It certainly gets us a jump start on that,” he said. “It’ll get us a long way down the road.”