KEUKA PARK, NY – Last weekend (May 4th, 5th, and 6th) The Finger Lakes Museum hosted a Boy Scout Camporee at its Branchport Discovery Campus. 120 scouts from 12 regional scout troops camped out on the grounds and participated in activities that included lacrosse, pioneering, and a history lesson on the Civil War delivered by presenters dressed in period garb and exhibiting genuine artifacts. And the weather couldn’t have been better.
The highlight of the day on Saturday was a visit from Liberty, a live female bald eagle, and her handlers, Paul and Ann Schnell from the Institute of Environmental Learning in Hilton, NY. Paul captivated everyone with his story of the successful recovery of the bald eagle population after it was reduced to a single nesting pair in all of New York State less than 50 years ago. The effects of DDT, a pesticide in common use at that time, had weakened their eggshells, which were then broken by the parents during incubation. As a result, the eagle population plummeted.
The idea to hold the Camporee at the Discovery Campus was first presented to museum board president John Adamski by Penn Yan scout leader Tom Willson several months ago. Adamski said, “I didn’t even have to think twice about it. What better way is there to interact with the future leaders of America than by sharing our resources with them?”
Adamski said that Liberty represents the museum’s bald eagle icon and serves as an ambassador for some of its programs. He said, “She’s 24 years old and hasn’t been able to fly for the last 23 years. And she truly enjoys what she’s doing. I think she’s a ham at heart.”
The redevelopment of the former elementary school into the Discovery Campus was one of ten transformational projects recommended by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to Governor Andrew Cuomo for state funding last fall. A $2.3 million grant was awarded by the state in December and Adamski said that it will all go toward the reconstruction project. The museum’s main campus is slated to break ground in nearby Keuka Lake State Park, beginning in 2013.
Adamski also said that talks are already underway to hold a “second annual Camporee” at the Discovery Campus next year. “Next year we’ll have even more to offer”, he stated.