Councils open camps as shelter for Hurricane Florence evacuees

Updated Sept. 14: The Summit Bechtel Reserve and more councils have extended this offer to displaced families.


Several Boy Scouts of America camps in Tennessee and Georgia will open their camps to Hurricane Florence evacuees who need a place to stay during the storm. The Summit Bechtel Reserve, the BSA’s national high-adventure base in West Virginia, is accepting displaced families as well.

Camp Davy Crockett, operated by the Sequoyah Council in eastern Tennessee, has space for families in tents, cabins and RVs who are fleeing the expected catastrophic flooding in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Camp Frank G. Lumpkin, operated by the Chattahoochee Council in western Georgia, also is prepared to welcome Scouting members and families that need shelter.

For people wanting to put distance between themselves and the hurricane, these camps are two safe, free options.

Ronald Cameron, Sequoyah Council program director, says his council’s offer applies to all families — even those not involved in Scouting.

“We’re just saying, come one, come all,” he told me by phone. “We need to help — Scouts or non-Scouts. That’s what Scouting teaches us. Be a good community partner and help any way you can.”

How to get help

If you’re an evacuee in need of a place to go, here’s whom to contact:

Camp Davy Crockett in Whitesburg, Tenn.: Call 423-306-7051 or email Ronald.Cameron@scouting.org.

Camp Frank G. Lumpkin in LaGrange, Ga.Fill out this form or call 706-327-2634 during normal business hours. 

Cherokee Area Council in Chattanooga, Tenn.: Call 423-892-8323 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. After office hours, email Program Director Scott Martin at ScottT.Martin@scouting.org

Great Smoky Mountain Council in Knoxville, Tenn.: Call 865-588-6514 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. After business hours, call 865-323-0846.

Middle Tennessee Council in Nashville, Tenn.: Call 615-383-9724 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. After business hours, call 615-383-9701.

Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va.: Call 304-465-2800 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. After business hours, call 304-573-3966 or 304-469-1077. The latter two numbers are the guard numbers and are manned around the clock. They can connect you with the right SBR resource to assist with any relocation issues.

A council steps up

This all started when the Sequoyah Council’s Cameron got a call from a mom who lives near the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune on the coast of North Carolina.

The woman said she, her husband and their two Cub Scouts were packing up and heading inland.

“She said, ‘we’re coming to Tennessee’ and said ‘would it be possible for us to come stay at your camp?'” Cameron says. “I said, ‘of course.'”

They arrived Tuesday. That night, Cameron was watching the local news when he learned that nearby Bristol Motor Speedway had offered its camping area for evacuees.

“And I said, ‘we need to open up camp,'” Cameron says.

The timing is favorable. Camp Davy Crockett just finished building 50 eight-person cabins and a staff village.

The Scouting family pitches in

Once word got out that Camp Davy Crockett would open its doors, calls starting coming in. And they weren’t just from evacuees needing a place to stay.

Cameron heard from the local Order of the Arrow lodge. A group of Arrowmen will be onsite this weekend to help the camp ranger with logistics.

Cameron heard from local Scout leaders. They will bring water, toiletries and anything else the camp might need.

“It’s amazing how the thing spreads,” Cameron says.

If enough people show up, Cameron will open the dining hall and call in the camp cooks.

“We’re just waiting to see what the response is,” he says. “We’ll call in camp staff as needed.”

All that effort to help other people will cost the council money and time. But that’s the last thing on Cameron’s mind.

“It’s going to cost us resources, but we’re not even thinking about it,” he says. “Do a Good Turn. Help your neighbors.”

‘Ready to serve’

Camp Frank G. Lumpkin in western Georgia is “open and ready to serve you,” according to a Facebook post from the council.

The camp’s Fort Bradshaw is an air-conditioned bunkhouse that can sleep up to 102 people.

During the evacuation of Hurricane Irma in 2017, the council housed friends, family members and Scouters from the South Florida area. Some stayed several days as they waited for word they could return to assess the damage.

I tip my hat to Scout Executive Juan F. Osorio of the Chattahoochee Council, and Scout Executive David Page and Program Director Ronald Cameron of the Sequoyah Council for stepping up to help others.