Boy Scouts meet $200,000 pledge goal for Camp Kingsley

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AVA — Despite a host of unanticipated challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Leatherstocking Council, Boy Scouts of America are helping Camp Kingsley celebrate its 100th camping anniversary by meeting a vital challenge pledge that will make a proposed welcome center at the much loved site a reality.

More than 340 supporters of the Leatherstocking Council, Boy Scouts of America pitched in to help raise money for Camp Kingsley and in doing so, met a $200,000 challenge from the Barnes Family — made in memory of their father Robert G. “Bob” Barnes, Sr.

The Leatherstocking Council was challenged to raise the $200,000 by March 1 — and in doing so, the Barnes Family will now donate $100,000 for Camp Kingsley’s 100th anniversary capital campaign to fund The Robert G. Barnes, Sr. Welcome Center.

Camp Kingsley is located on approximately 400-acres off of Tuffy Road. This marks the fifth time in over a century that the Leatherstocking Council has received a six-figure donation.

Robert “Bob” Barnes, Sr. of Canastota was a longtime volunteer at Camp Kingsley and father of three Eagle Scouts. Barnes, who passed away in 2013, was an electrical technician at General Electric for 35 years and was a very active leader of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Barnes achieved his Eagle Scout rank as a youth and as an adult was a scout master, earning many prestigious awards including the Silver Beaver Award, District Award of Merit and the Wood Badge Award recognizing his leadership.

“It is appropriate we name this welcome center after Bob since I remember that over a decade ago, he was the first to communicate the critical need for a convenient location at Camp Kingsley where our guests may check-in after a long journey,” said Ray Eschenbach, scout executive for the Leatherstocking Council. “We are grateful to Steve for making this multi-use facility possible because until now, it was something our volunteers only dreamed about.”

“Building this new welcome center displays our commitment to the scouting program for years to come,” said Leatherstocking Council Board President Matthew Dziedzic. “By investing in our camps, programs and community - even in tough times, we are showing our youth that no matter how daunting the challenge, a Scout never gives up and always moves forward.”

Cub Scouts come year-round to Camp Kingsley from all over the northeast. For the nationally recognized Blizzard Camp, Scouts travel from as far away as Florida to see snow for the first time and obtain their winter survival merit badge.

The Robert G. “Bob” Barnes, Sr. Welcome Center will be a warm and inviting space for guests to check into camp, relax in the lounge, use the restroom upon arrival and even take care of their health paperwork. It will be designed as a multi-use facility that non-Scouts can rent when BSA members are not in camp. Groups like Utica College, Thea Bowman House, The United States Army, and others rent campsites and cabins at Camp Kingsley throughout the year. Campaign supporters have been invited to attend a video call with Eschenbach this afternoon to hear the exciting news firsthand.

The building committee has been planning for months in anticipation of reaching the goal. Officials said they are thankful for the help they have received as well as for the opportunity to highlight the camp and project.

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