All across the country, chapters conduct service projects at local camps and parks in practice of cheerful service. Typically, these service projects can take a few hours or a few days. For the past two years, the Hnu-Ra-Con Chapter of O-Shot-Caw Lodge has been working on a large-scale, unique service project that they take lots of pride in. Last year, they were given the opportunity to build a primitive campsite at Zoo Miami. In a new tradition, the chapter works to build and maintain this campsite each year as their annual service project.
This zoo is surrounded by protected pine rockland and the area they work in is a plot of already disturbed land, so the environment is not being tampered with. 2019 Chapter Chief Carson Engelmann noted, “Initially, the project started with clearing over an acre of 10-foot-high Burma reed. After that, we laid down logs to delineate each campsite. We also filled in the sites with pine needles, and the walkways with mulch.”
With this campsite in particular, one special feature is the distinctive decision to install permanent hammock camping poles. These keep campers off the rocky ground and makes setting up their hammocks much easier. Carson remembered, “At one workday, we placed the hammock poles in the ground, then solidified them with cement sand. While doing this, our chapter advisers pressure cleaned the large concrete slab and building next to the campsite. Once this was done, we held a series of painting workdays, where we put three coats of primer on the building and painted the building, painting a white rectangle in the center where movies will be projected.”
Campers will also be able to hear the nocturnal animals at night, and see bald eagles, ospreys, and red shouldered hawks during the day. One of the chapter members is even working on building a fire ring and 8’ benches as part of his Eagle Scout Project, and another built six 8’ picnic tables for the campsite. In the future, they are hoping to work with another Eagle Scout candidate to build composting toilets in the campsite. As it currently stands, future plans include adding a floating dock to the lake adjacent to the camp.
This campsite will not only be a unique place for the chapter to meet and camp, but also will be a major asset for the zoo enabling them to develop new group interpretive programs in the future. Carson proudly declared, “The zoo is very excited about this project, and I am very proud of what our mighty chapter has accomplished.”