Last updated: June 19. 2014 11:12PM - 1035 Views
By - egodin@timesleader.com

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BLAKESLEE — Leadership Wilkes-Barre teamed up with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Council of the Boy Scouts of America to help fund and build a rock climbing wall at an area Cub Scout camp.

The project allowed the 2014 Leadership Wilkes-Barre class to learn by acquiring the permits, raising funding and volunteering time to build the wall at Camp Acahela

The grand unveiling, called “First Climb,” was held Thursday night with a small dedication ceremony in the camp’s dining hall.

Members of Leadership Wilkes-Barre and the NEPA Council of the Boy Scouts of America watched as 15 members of Cub Scout Packs 106 and 60 of Mountain Top and Pack 160 of Clarks Summit suited up and climbed the 16-foot, stone-like wall.

“We are one of a few Cub Scout camps in the country that have a climbing wall,” said Bryan Fisk, council vice president and camp director. “It is rare.”

The project was on a waiting list with the NEPA Council for about three years. When Leadership Wilkes-Barre chose to do a project with the Cub Scouts, the idea transformed into reality.

Leadership Wilkes-Barre stepped beyond the regional area of the Wyoming Valley on this project, but the goal to offer and provide a learning experience that would affect so many children played a big role in the project’s approval.

The Leadership Wilkes-Barre Class of 2014 had two Eagle Scouts — Joe Archey, of Borton-Lawson, and Joe Valenti, of DJV Technologies — and a mother of two Eagle Scouts — Kim Albert, of Sallie Mae — in its ranks.

“I wanted to do something near and dear to my heart,” Albert said.

Leadership Wilkes-Barre raised $5,000 through fundraisers and combined that with funding from the NEPA Council of Boy Scouts of America and the Scout Master Memorial Fund to build a $12,000 a state-of-the-art rock-climbing wall that meets the safety requirements of the Boy Scouts of America climbing regulations.

“They are very strict regulations,” Albert said.

The wall is 16 feet tall and 20 feet wide and is located along the wall in the dining hall at the camp. Mats that can be folded up and secured will prevent boys from climbing on the wall when certified instructors are not present.

Some of the safety equipment includes helmets, harnesses and ropes that will aid the climbers. Fisk said the wall has four lanes ranging from easy to moderate to challenging. The handholds can be rearranged in different patterns to create different challenges for the boys, he said.

Although geared for the Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts will also have access to the wall. Fisk said they frequently climb nearby rock ledges. If they are climbing and get rained out, the older Scouts can come and climb inside, he said.

Albert said Camp Acahela reaches out to scouts from all over the Wyoming Valley and from as far as New Jersey. During the course of the summer, between 300 to 350 Cub Scouts visit the camp, Fisk said.

“We hope this will give the Cub Scouts an experience and (they will) want to climb up to be Boy Scouts,” Fisk said.

Leadership Wilkes-Barre is a tuition-based, nonprofit program to help develop leadership skills in adults through community-based activities. For more information, visit http://www.leadershipwilkes-barre.org/ to learn more.

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