The Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts of America recently announced the opening of the new Camp Strake location, a 2,806-acre rural site surrounded by the Sam Houston National Forest and located outside Coldspring in San Jacinto County.
The mission of the highly anticipated new site, which includes 150,000 square feet of facilities, is to create a place with purpose and a 21st century Scouting experience while carrying on the rich history and memories of the camp.
“Camp Strake’s new era will be a transformational outdoor adventure experience for our entire area, equipping young people with a foundation of leadership,” said Clay Williams, Chief Executive Officer of National Oilwell Varco and Chair of the Sam Houston Area Council Board. “Not only will Scouts and families be able to continue their Camp Strake traditions in a modern camping setting, the new camp location will help them become ambassadors for servant leadership with great honor and integrity.”
Campers and guests are greeted at the Welcome Center surrounded by the serene nature found within and beneath tall pine trees. The campgrounds are divided into three primary areas: the Tsuru Scout Camp, The Walter and Looke Families Wilderness Area, and the Future Leadership Institute.
The Tsuru Scout Camp is open year-round, and houses weekend and resident camp operations for Scouts BSA (age 11 or have completed the fifth grade through high school), Sea Scouts (BSA program that focuses on water high adventure and personal development), and Venturers (an adventure program for 14-20-year-olds). The Tsuru Scout Camp encompasses designated areas including summer camp staff lodging, campsites, central camp, aquatics, an outdoor arena, Nelson’s Point, climbing and shooting sports among others.
Central camp houses the Janis and George Fleming Camp Headquarters, the Strake Legacy Pavilion, the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Dining Hall, the Grand Pavilion, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Center, training and merit badge pavilions, and a sports field with restrooms. Additional campsites feature 20 pavilions for Scouts and camp guest lodging with shower and restroom units. The summer camp staff area includes 40 staff huts, modern showers and restrooms and a pavilion.
Camp staff will have access to the Rex W. Tillerson Leadership Lodge, which can be used for leader and youth training as well as the home base for seasonal camp staff. The aquatics region of the camp comprises a state-of-the-art aquatics center with a four-lane, Olympic sized swimming pool, with water polo, water basketball and a water climbing tower; the John R. Curry Observation Tower overlooking the 28-acre lake, a boat storage pavilion, two piers, and two training and merit badge pavilions.
The Patsy and Stan Stanley Campfire Arena hosts a stage with seating for more than 1,000 campers on the way to Nelson’s Point, a peninsula that is home to both a fishing dock and pavilion.
For adventure activities, Camp Strake houses a 40-foot rock wall climbing tower with four stations, a training pavilion, and a double zip line that traverses the 28-acre lake. The impressive shooting sports area is home to the Carole and Jim Looke Shotgun Range, the Rusty and Paula Walter Rifle Range, as well as a pistol and archery range.
The Walter and Looke Families Wilderness Area features more than 11 miles of trails for walking, biking and ATVs with easy access to the Sam Houston National Forest and the Lone Star Hiking Trail. Just northeast of the Welcome Center, The Leadership Institute will primarily serve as the satellite site of National BSA’s Rex W. Tillerson Leadership Center at The Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.
The Institute will offer advanced training programs for adult leaders and Scouts BSA, Sea Scouts and Venturers, as well as community and business leaders. The program will instill within youth advanced techniques and philosophies of leadership and ethics that can be easily applied in business, community, and personal lives.
The future areas within the Leadership Institute will include the 15,000-square-foot Leadership and Ethics Center, a state-of-the-art building with four separate training classrooms each fully integrated audio and visual capabilities and wired for modern training needs; a catering kitchen and serving space for meals and an outdoor patio seating area.
Additional facilities include four, eight-person cabins; four, 32-person dormitories; two training pavilions; showers and restrooms; an arena; a chapel and a Scout training campsite. The estimated project cost for the Leadership Institute is $6,800,000 with $3,900,000 raised to date.
The original site for Camp Strake was founded in 1943 in Conroe. Financial backing for the more than 2,000 acres of land came from a member of the council’s executive board, George Strake. Mr. Strake discovered the Conroe oil field, which at the time was the country’s third largest oil field in the nation. The camp quickly became known to be one of the largest camps in the United States, helping generations of young boys earn badges.
The new Camp Strake will continue to carry on the many traditions of the original camp and the family’s vision, including a modern update to the camp’s original logo which is depicted by a raven. The new logo will feature a head of a raven representing a look-forward to the new 21st century camp.
Additionally, many items from the original camp are incorporated into the new location including the George W. Strake Sr. dedication plaque and the dining hall bell now both on display in the Strake Legacy Pavilion. The Little Daughter of the Twin Sisters by a Son of the Republic, a three-pounder brass cannon that was received in 1956, is displayed in the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Dining Hall, in addition to the chapel bell.
For more information regarding events and information visit www.shac.org/camp-strake.