Gulf Ridge Council
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|Gulf Ridge Council|
|Owner||Boy Scouts of America|
Gulf Ridge Council served Scouts in west-central Florida with the council headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Youth were served in the following eight counties: Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, and Sumter. Gulf Ridge Council merged with West Central Florida Council on May 1, 2016, to form the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council.
- Allohak District
- Fort Brooke District
- Lake Region District
- Thunderbird District
- Timucua District
- Withlacoochee District
Flaming Arrow Scout Reservation
Flaming Arrow Scout Reservation (FASR) is a Boy Scout Camp outside of Lake Wales, Florida. It is owned and operated by Gulf Ridge Council. Many camp legends are part of the lore, including the story of Tad Stoler, the haunting of campsite 14, and the sightings of Hcom Nala.
In 1965 the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad donated the land that is now called Flaming Arrow Scout Reservation. Its first ranger, Don Prior, moved from Indiana with his family, wife and two young children-Bradly and Timmie. The family worked together with the council to develop the north side of the camp, Hampton.
When a group comes to Flaming Arrow for longer than a day, they can stay overnight at one of the FASR's campsites. During the Summer Camp program, troops stay in either semi-permanent or cabin-style bunkhouses. The cabanas are located on Jenkins side of camp (the south side) in campsites Arapaho, Blackfoot and Cheyenne. These and the rest of the campsites use canvas wall tents erected on concrete platforms. On Jenkins side the remaining campsites are Dakota, Fox, Gosuite, and Hopi, the largest campsite. The rest of the campsites are on Hampton side (North side). These sites are Baden Powell, Beard, Seton, West, Boyce, Livingston, Tad Stoler, and the Outpost Campsite (previously known as Site 14). The Outpost campsite is the farthest site from the rest of camp. It also has no bathhouses, though it does have running water. (The outpost camp is now under renovations by Troop and Crew 123 to become the new "Mountain Man" site.) Livingston was closed because of its out dated facilities on top of hurricane damage, and spider infestation. (Beware of Fred Livingston!) Boyce is haunted and is never used; having burned down and overgrown. All the campsites in the main part of camp have flushing toilets, hot water showers, running water, and a pavilion. Many campsite pairs share a bath house (example: Cheyenne and Dakota, Beard and Seton). There is electricity in every occupied campsite. This includes lighting in all the cabanas, pavilions and bathhouses as well as electrical plugs. There are plans to have a plug for each tent in the near future as well as three new shared bathhouses.
For many campers and Scoutmasters the biggest break in the day is the three meals served in the dining hall, Wood Hall. Wood Hall is located near the center of camp overlooking Swim Lake from the northeast corner of the lake. Wood Hall seats nearly three hundred occupants and is air conditioned.
Jenkins Hall is located south of Wood Hall, at the end of the road leading into camp from the parking lot. Jenkins houses the camp Trading Post, concession stand and movie theater. The main room of Jenkins has a projector and a surround sound home theater system allowing troops to watch movies. The room is used by the Sports, Aquatics, Eagle Trail and other program areas to show instructional videos. Jenkins Hall is air conditioned and has a secure wireless internet connection.
FASR offers several types of camping and instructional programs throughout the year. The most prominent is the Boy Scout Summer Camp. Troops spend a week starting on Sunday afternoon and leaving Saturday morning. During this week, they attend classes to earn merit badges, rank advancement, and other skills. Troops only stay for one week, but multiple Summer Camp weeks are offered starting in mid-June and ending mid-July.
With the success of the Summer Camp program, FASR also offers an annual Winter Camp. It is less than a week long and occurs between Christmas and New Year's Eve. As with summer camp, Troops spend the "week" earning advancements.
During the year, Troops can also choose to attend two Mini-Camps, where Scouts can earn a merit badge in a weekend.
Flaming Arrow facilitates other events as well. Boy Scout Troops, The Order of the Arrow, and many groups and organizations other than Scouting use the camp throughout the year to facilitate their own activities and programs.
Flaming Arrow contains several Program Areas for most of the activities offered at the camp.
The Aquatics Area is located in three areas around two of the lakes. The Swimming Area is on the north end of Swim Lake near Wood Hall. Swimming and Lifesaving merit badges as well as BSA Lifeguard certification are taught at this location. Adults can be trained in Aquatic Supervision. For those needing a greater challenge, there is the Mile Swim and the Three Mile Challenge.
The Boating Area is located towards the southeast end of Swim Lake near Jenkins Hall. Here campers can earn Canoeing, Rowing, Motorboating, and Small Boat Sailing and the new Kayaking merit badges. A patch can also be earned in Boardsailing.
Ski Lake is located on the Northwest corner of the property. This lake is entirely devoted to Water Sports merit badge.
Although not run by the Aquatics Area, Flaming Arrow offers PADI scuba certification, which is taught in buildings and practiced in Swim Lake.
Arts and sciences
The Arts and Sciences building is located just west of "Four Corners" in the log cabin. Merit badges offered in Arts and Sciences include: Music, Theatre, Chemistry, Law, Medicine, Photography, and Space Exploration. New this year are Archeology and Pottery.
Although the central monument of the climbing area is the thirty foot artificial face rock wall and the forty foot illuminated rappelling tower, the Climbing Area offers many sports merit badges along with Climbing merit badge. Some of the other badges offered are Golf, Personal Fitness (Eagle Required), and new this year, Skating.
June 2009 FASR opened the new COPE course. Popular with JROTC units, this course does not sit idle. Ten low elements for team building, and eight high ropes elements to encourage individual confidence.
In 2004, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances, and Hurricane Jeanne passed over Flaming Arrow causing damage to many areas of the camp. Surprisingly, almost all of the damage was vegetation loss. Staff and volunteers spent months clearing fallen trees from roads, paths, campsites, and program areas. The Aquatics area was hit the hardest, with no protection from the winds coming across the lakes. The Swimming Area main structure was completely destroyed and the Ski Area Boat House was lost. Around camp flooding was a major problem, as well as other structural damage. Saunders Hall, the original office building had several inches of water inside the building for over a month. Access to the shooting ranges also became limited when Staff City Field flooded.
Summer Camp continued as normal in 2005 after months of repair and cleanup. However, nothing could be done about the high lake levels and the existence of new lakes; Staff City Field was now being called Staff City Lake. Summer of 2005 brought record levels of rain fall to the central Florida area. The effects at Flaming Arrow were a dramatic increase in lake level, and massive flooding over the rest of camp. In the Shooting Sports Area, roads and ranges were flooded and eventually closed or relocated. As "Staff City Lake" rose, it eventually overflowed into the Outdoor Skills area, flooding and closing the area. It was relocated to the unused campsite Erie. Within weeks of the start of Summer Camp, Saunders Hall remained flooded. It reopened in Summer 2007 with some repairs. Throughout the rest of camp, road and trail flooding was a major problem, especially right after a storm. One large section of road in front of the original Outdoor Skills area became permanently flooded as part of Staff City Lake. As the main lakes in camp rose to record levels, low lying areas became flooded. The Aquatics Area was able to deal with the rise of lake levels. Tests showed increased levels of bacteria from the flow of water, and the Swimming Area was closed for the rest of Summer Camp. The Boating and Ski Areas were also closed temporarily. In Week 5 of summer camp, Hopi was closed after all routes to and from the site became flooded. The main route to Hopi is a causeway between Swim Lake and Fish Lake. Historically, this passage has only flooded briefly after major storms. In early June, the lake levels rose high enough to not only connect Fish Lake and Swim Lake, but to also connect Swim Lake and Ski Lake. In addition, the now massive "Sw-ish-ski Lake" was also connected to the nearby Saddle Bag Lake, which is located off-property. This flooding persisted to almost winter and destroyed much of the original landscape. To date almost all of the pine trees that existed in the flood waters have died, as well as many other trees and plants.
Camp has since recovered and the flooding has passed. Many cypress and pine trees have been planted to repopulate the area.
Other Camps and Properties
The other camps within the Gulf Ridge Council include Camp Alafia with 550 acres of primitive camping located in Lithia, Florida just 30 minutes southeast of Tampa, Camp Brorein a 64 acre weekend camping facility located in Odessa, Florida just 30 minutes northwest of Tampa.
Seminole Lodge is an Order of the Arrow lodge associated with the Gulf Ridge Council, located in west-central Florida. Members of the lodge belong to the Order of the Arrow, a national scouting honor society.
Chartered in 1936 while under the name Kiondashama, the lodge name was changed to Seminole by September, 1938. Seminole is the name of a Native American people whose original homelands included portions of Florida.
By 2007, the most recent year figures are available, the membership of the Seminole Lodge numbered 635.
- "Gulf Ridge Council". Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "Gulf Ridge Council Camps". Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "Seminole Lodge". Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "The Internet Guide to Order of the Arrow Insignia Website". Retrieved June 28, 2011.