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Boy Scouts making $10 million investment at Walker facility

The place where Boy Scouts in West Michigan gather is about to expand its walker facility and programs offered.

WGVU finds out why community leaders are making a multimillion dollar investment.

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and to country…”

This is what the future of scouting sounds like. And this is the voice of an old Boy Scout who hears them.

“Neighborhoods change around us. Purposes change. Society, culture and habits change, needs change.”

Dick DeVos recently mentored an 11-year old attending Burton Elementary when he asked him if he asked the boy if he was going to visit the lake during his summer vacation?

“He looked at me and he said, ‘What lake?’ I said, ‘Well, Lake Michigan’ being completely stupid because my world was very different from his world. To which he responded, ‘Where’s that?’ I had to say shame on me. Same on me for making the assumption that his world and my world were the same, but my question then became how can I introduce him to a bigger world? This facility will allow young people whose world might be just a few blocks square to be introduced to a new world.”

A new world located just minutes from downtown Grand Rapids where the President Ford Field Service Council of the Boy Scouts of America sprawls across 38-acres in Walker. Here, a $10 million dollar investment will include the DeVos Family Center for Scouting and, as former Perrigo CEO and chairman Mike Janderno explains will emphasize environmental and STEM programs focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

“We have a huge need for skilled job employees across our community, West Michigan and in fact, the entire state. And we need to provide an opportunity for these scouts to understand what STEM is all about and what carrier opportunities it provides them.”

But there’s more to it than that. Only half the money for the project has been raised called the Build Character Today, Lead Tomorrow Campaign with a focus on expanding scouting to the inner city and urban areas.

“To provide an opportunity to come here and enjoy the changes and the climbing walls and to provide a camping opportunity.”

“What do you think about this place and what’s coming?”

“It’s going to be big and it’s going to be fun.”

That's 11-year old Darrion Clark.

“I would definitely want to learn science. Science is my goodest thing I do in school.”

Here's Clark's friend, 12-year old Xander Howard with his take.

“I see a fun, educational, Boy Scouts hideout and stuff like that" adding, “Well I would want to learn all the characterists, all the true meanings of Boy Scouts.”

“The thing that I like about scouting in addition to a focus on education and STEM and some of these basics skills is the soft component. Scoutin also talks about personal responsibility, it talks about honor and duty and those kinds of characteristics, they’re character issues that are necessary because no society exists by just technology alone. We have to have those character virtues if we’re going to survive.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.    

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.