Camp Wilkes, despite a body blow by Hurricane Katrina, is coming back.|
"We'll scale down a bit but we'll be open June 4, when Boy Scouts start arriving," said A. J. Stanovich, longtime camp director.
The storm destroyed cabins and more than 90 beds. Nothing but slabs were left of the Lions, Elks and A. J. lodges.
"The three-room hospital was gone," he said. "We lost everything in the two-story Order of the Arrow building."
The waterfront camp was founded in 1938 by E. P. Wilkes, whose family owned The Daily Herald, forerunner to the Sun Herald. Thousands of Scouts as well as other groups and organizations have enjoyed the facility for picnics and campouts.
Stanovich praised the hundreds of college volunteers and Navy Seabees for helping bring back the camp, located on 89 prime acres on Back Bay Biloxi.
"The Seabees helped repair our $17,000 pier, and we've got motors and filter systems for our pool," he added.
Alabama Power Co. put up 18 new power poles and restored service after Katrina destroyed every power line.
Stanovich, interviewed before he left to pay in advance for a concrete slab for the first-aid station, said volunteers were cleaning mortar off salvaged concrete blocks.
"Costs have shot up to $1.85 per block, and concrete's up to $100 a yard."
Stanovich, 77, who has been in scouting for 64 years, said his most pressing need is for volunteer block-layers, electricians and plumbers.
"We have 150 Scouts already registered," he said.