Governor Paul LePage and military officials converged on Camp William Hinds in Raymond on Tuesday for a briefing on the progress the military has been making at the Boy Scout camp over the past three years through the Innovative Readiness Training program (IRT). With projects like replacing the walking bridge over the Tenney River and building a new 20,000 square foot dining hall, the IRT troops come from the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Maine Air Guard reserves for two weeks at a time. Each group that arrives at camp has a specialty that they train on by doing projects set up by the IRT program manager.
“This camp serves 1 million residents in Maine and is used to serve thousands who visit beautiful Camp Hinds,” said Pine Tree Council Scout Executive Eric Tarbox. “This program and the Assistant Secretary of Defense enabled us to do what we never could have done before.” The camp serves more than 5,000 Scouts in the State of Maine.
The IRT program began in 1993 to give the military personnel real world experience training, according to Capt. Miles Shepard the civil engineer project manager for the IRT program. The engineering and construction units come for experience with construction, electrical, HVAC, pavement, communications, transportation, bussing to site and back, and food services.
Camp Hinds is the only Scout council in the nation to have this opportunity, Tarbox told the group gathered.
Working together with all branches of the military helps each group learn to do things better, to improve while teaching each other, said Capt. Kevin Wolff. Wolff outlined the projects completed or started last year which include a new access road, which will keep delivery trucks off the main camp road once the dining hall is completed, put a new dormer on the Messier Training Center, built the Tenney Bridge, built many staff cabins and poured the concrete for the dining hall.
Not only are the working at Camp Hinds, but they are also working for area towns, including Raymond and Casco.
“Everything the military is doing is phenomenal,” said Lynne Teague, Pine Tree Council commissioner.
This year the units began by remodeling and upgrading the facilities at the medical lodge thanks in part to a design donation from the Stinson family from Sebago Technics, making it a four season building with new flooring, lighting and waterlines. They continued work on the range berms, put in a leach field, which required a lot of hand shoveling as well as dug water lines and communication lines throughout the camp. “They utilize their skills that leave a legacy behind for the Boy Scouts,” Wolff said.
The IRT is in its seventh out of eight weeks of work this summer. The Boy Scouts will continue the progress after they depart, as well as the Air Reserve, which will take over the project management for next summer.
The invited guests on Tuesday were given a tour of the new dining facility, still under construction, and the existing structure that has been in use since the late 1950s.
“This is just great. I’m so impressed,” said Governor LePage. “With all branches of government contributing, it’s amazing that they pick up where the others left off. This is the right thing for the right place for the future of our state, the future of our children and the future of our country.”
“It’s very important to show our donors and the leadership from the Pentagon the dual benefit of training our young men and women to serve our country around the world and to see the legacy their leaving for generations for Scouts. By seeing their hard work and contributions in person, they’re able to take pride in their investment in the youth of our country,” said Tarbox.
The new four season dining hall and Bill and Jackie Thornton STEM center under the dining hall will be able to be used year round and rented out to organizations needing the space. “The sky’s the limit,” said Eagle Scout and board member Horace Horton about the rental potential.
The initial plan was for the dining hall to be used in the summer. However it was determined that it was less expensive to insulate and put in the better sprinkler system making it a year round facility, said Tarbox.
“I’m looking forward to spending some time in it, said Jake Decrow of Trask-Decrow Machinery who donated the industrial pump to move wastewater from the new facility. His son is a Scout.
The shooting ranges at Camp Hinds are “The finest ranges that any of us know about. They are safe and the best designed,” said Tarbox. The NRA specific ranges were created by RJ Grondin & Sons using ballistic sand and all safety precautions. “This is a better complex than our high adventure complexes,” Tarbox added.
“It’s impressive,” said Rep. Mike McClellan. “It makes me think what a great job Raymond Select Board is doing. Raymond is a great place to raise a family.”