Boy Scouts help clean up after Irma

Scouts were at campsites in Putnam, Clay counties Saturday

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - Hundreds of Boy Scouts on descended on two campgrounds in Clay and Putnam counties Saturday to help Hurricane Irma cleanup efforts.

The Scouts were at St. Johns River Base at Echockotee on Doctor’s Lake and Camp Shands in Putnam County. Both sites had to be closed after Irma.

For an organization that prides itself on being prepared, rebuilding after a hurricane is right up the Boy Scouts' alley.

Alfred Aviles and his son James are part of a Boy Scout troop on Jacksonville’s Westside. They spent hours at Echockotee removing limbs and helping dispose of the roughly 50 trees that toppled during Irma.

“We were originally designated to camp here this weekend and canoe, but now we’re doing a day of service here at the camp,” Alfred Aviles said. “It’s a great opportunity for him to learn how to serve. That’s what scouting’s all about, serving others.”

While other scouts were out at Camp Shands, the majority of the damage was along the edge of Doctor’s Lake, where burn piles have been placed in the different camp sites around Echokotee.

Jack Sears, administrator for North Florida Boy Scouts, told News4Jax they hope to have the site cleaned up enough by the end of the day to reopen.

“At Doctor’s Lake edge, we had water come within 10 feet of our buildings -- all of our waterfront. The camp is unusable for now,” Sears said. “We believe that after today, we’ll get our canopy cleared and our trees removed.”

The Boy Scouts have been helping out all over North Florida. In addition the Scouts in Clay and Putnam counties, 8,000 Scouts spread out around the area to conduct food giveaways and perform other hurricane cleanup efforts.

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