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FINDLAY - The storms that swept through the area a week ago with 80 mph winds as the point on the spear were particularly devastating at Camp Berry, a Boy Scout campground about six miles south of here.
Power was knocked out, at least 400 trees were destroyed, another thousand or so damaged, a shelter house was destroyed, and several other major buildings on the historic property were left in need of immediate repair.
"The debris was everywhere," said John Harrington, one of the directors of the Black Swamp Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America that operates the camp.
"It looked like we might have to be closed for a while."
But in the face of all that ruin and destruction, a wonderfully "scout-like" phenomenon occurred. Volunteers poured in from every direction and a mass effort to get the popular summer camp site back on its feet commenced.
"We have been both humbled and amazed by the turnout, from both our scouting community in the area, and from those close by," said Vic Pooler of the Black Swamp Council. "We've had groups from Toledo, Fort Wayne, Michigan, and Dayton all show up ready to help. It's been literally an army of volunteers."
Camp Berry hosts a series of week-long Boy Scout outings in June and July, and there were close to 400 scouts at the site when the storm approached, Harrington said. Once the alarms sounded, the Scouts and the camp staff all moved to the designated storm shelters in the main dining hall and the shower house.
After the nastiest weather passed, the extent of the damage left the scouting hierarchy very pessimistic about the prospects for having Camp Berry ready to receive its next group of campers, scheduled to arrive last Sunday evening, less than 48 hours later.
"When I got to the camp on Friday evening, I was certain our chances were slim and none, in terms of being up and running in time for that next group," Pooler said.
But with a near miraculous effort, the camp was able to greet its next collection of scouts on schedule.
"As it turned out, we were not only prepared for those scouts who came in on Sunday, we were ready to give them the same level of service and opportunity that existed before the storm hit," Pooler said. "What took place was stunning."
In the hours after the storm and throughout last weekend, Black Swamp Council officials estimate they had upward of 150 volunteers just show up at Camp Berry ready to go to work. Donations of food and supplies started arriving right away.
"We had people with trucks and trailers, a lot of chainsaws, a couple of big front-end loaders and even two bucket trucks," Harrington said. "I'm not sure where they all came from and how that kind of specialized equipment got here so quickly, but that seems to be the scouting way. We were a group in need of help, and help arrived."
Establishing a source of power was one of the top priorities, because electricity was needed to run the wells, septic system, and the kitchen at the 360-acre camp. With portable generators in such tight supply by reason of the widespread power outages in this part of the state, the camp had to travel to Cleveland to find the 70 kilowatt diesel generator it needed.
As temporary power was brought online, the cleanup of the grounds was taking place in earnest.
"We had these massive collections of debris all over the place," Harrington said. "Hundreds of trees were knocked down, and there were a lot that were so damaged they needed to be cut down and cut up. The process of picking up all of that brush and hauling it away was a huge undertaking."
Camp Berry sports what Harrington calls "the largest brush pile in the state" and has stockpiled firewood that should last for a decade, but all this comes at a high price.
"We lost so many mature pines and hardwoods -- trees that we'll never be able to replace," he said. "We'll look at replanting, but the loss was tremendous."
Despite the scars left on the landscape, Harrington expects Camp Berry and the area scouting community to emerge from the ordeal stronger than ever, and even more committed to their mission.
"To watch the scouting community respond like it did -- that was very touching and it sent a powerful message to those kids who visit Camp Berry," he said. "We can talk about the power of teamwork and the value of volunteerism, but they witnessed those things first-hand. They got to see just how we can do amazing things if we work together."
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.