Marines help Camp Baker make much needed improvements

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Camp Baker saw a host of improvements this month, as they partnered with the Department of Defense via the Innovative Readiness Training Program to provide civil engineering assistance. Members of the United States Marine Reserves helped with a variety of projects, from pouring a concrete foundation in the archery range, to building a new storage structure. 

“They’ve improved the road, ran infrastructure including water lines and electrical lines,” said Stan Anderson, who lives on and manages the camp with his wife, Ann. “Three of the cabins we have now have electricity. They’ve been working on an ADA site, so youth can be able to come in a wheelchair and camp with their group, instead of having to stay separate.”

The Marines widened the road, allowing volunteers with the camp to bring their vehicles in, as well as adding lights to the parking lot. Many of these projects have been in the process for years. 

“We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars in donated time, community time, to improve the camp - these guys have helped bring that forward,” Anderson said. 

The improvements will help the camp host in a variety of events, beyond BSA events. Baker hosts an autism camp, churches, and various community groups who utilize their facilities. And the community came out to help the Marines. 

“People found out that they would just be eating MRE’s, and they wanted to have them eat real food,” Anderson said, describing a variety of foods that were brought in by various groups and individuals. “Somebody put it on Facebook, and we had volunteer cooks bring all sorts of food for the Marines. The community was awesome.”

For the Marines, the partnership represents a chance to train so they can be deployed effectively, working in both combat and humanitarian missions.  

“On my last deployment, I was in Iraq helping with all the survivability conditions, like the posts where they have the gun positions,” Sergeant Savannah Anderson said. “I also went to the Philippians to build schools. We do a lot of humanitarian work where we’re building and are  doing construction.”

The knowledge also gets passed on to different countries, as Sgt. Raul Deanda said, who recently returned from a mission in South Korea. 

“We show them how we operate in America and they show us how they do things in Korea for integrated training,” he said. “We’re assisting to create a road for the army base.”

The training comes full circle, as Lance Corporal Joel Shewmaker explained. Five years ago, the Portland native wanted to be a high school teacher, with an interest in construction work. So, I thought I’d enlist because of the construction work. … Five years later, here I am. I’m currently a teacher.”

All this knowledge went into the process of helping Camp Baker. 

“It's been crazy, but it's just been awesome,” Stan Anderson said.