BASE CAMP: Boy Scouts of America Outdoor Education, Demonstration and Learning Center

For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts have offered young men programs that strengthen values, develop leadership skills, provide lifelong learning and instill the habit of service to others.  Providing the organization with an outdoor space where Scouts can demonstrate and showcase their skills for the community was an easy decision for InterDesign, an Indianapolis-based architectural and landscape architectural design and planning services firm. “As a company, we are morally invested in the organization because we believe in what they do,” says InterDesign founder Phil Howard.  “The value the Scouts bring to the community is felt every day. When you consider the number of community leaders who were once Boy Scouts or the vast number of stewardship projects that are supported by the Scouts each year- the positive impact is undeniable.”

That’s why InterDesign partnered with the Crossroads of America Council for the Boy Scouts of America in Indianapolis and donated 100% of their time to create a BASE CAMP: an outdoor education, demonstration and learning center. The project provides a camp space where local scout troops are able to showcase their skills and educate the community.

The near 200 sq. ft. covered shelter and building is positioned on an approximate 13,800 sq. ft. parcel located on the grounds of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Boy Scouts worked alongside Indianapolis-based companies including InterDesign, Becker Landscape Contractors, Inc., Hobbs Nursery, The Buchanan Group, and others volunteering their time and muscle to create this lasting legacy.

InterDesign’s site architecture department provided the overall site concept and the design for the shelter, the stage, the storage space, and various seating options including large stumps, boulders and slab retaining walls.  Included in the site plan was a large granite monument, areas for a model campsite, a tent demonstration space, and a rope-climbing area.

The project, which took 12 months to plan and 2 months to construct, includes a meandering crushed stone path and substantial planting areas. Planting of these areas was timed perfectly to ensure they would provide screening, shade, and color during the Indiana State Fair in early-to-mid August.

Many Indiana-native, woody plants were used on site including red and sugar maple trees, swamp white oak trees and the State tree of Indiana- the Tulip Tree.  Red buds, flowering dogwoods, serviceberry, American hazelnut, blackhaw, buttonbush, witch hazel red, and red and black chokeberries were also planted. The herbaceous plants include palm sedge, northern sea oats, switchgrass, blazing star, culver’s root, New England aster, nodding onion, obedient plant, purple coneflower, rattlesnake master, and sweet coneflower can also be found onsite. And, most notably, the prairie dropseed was included to enhance this year’s State Fair theme; “The Year of Popcorn”. Included because of its buttered popcorn fragrance, the prairie dropseed was in full bloom during the Indiana State Fair in August.

“Base Camp is a fantastic legacy,” says Ryan Keys Activity & Civic Service Director for the Crossroads of America Boy Scouts in Indianapolis.  “It fills a great need because it’s practical.  These spaces will let our Scouts showcase and demonstrate the positive impact Boy Scouts is having on individuals in our community.  And, because it’s located on the fairgrounds, we can reach tens of thousands of people in a very short period of time,” says Keys of the nearly 900,000 people that visit the 17-day state fair each August.  “There are very few spaces that can make that claim.”