Jim Carney

BOSTON TWP.:The first Boy Scouts to jump into the new pool at Camp Manatoc gave the new facility a thumbs up.

First in was Tenderfoot Scout Garrett Hurd, 11, of Troop 101 in Warren. “It’s a lot nicer than the swim club I go to,” he said after doing the butterfly stroke during most of his 100-meter test swim.

“I liked the temperature,” said Life Scout Sam Oliphant, 14, of Troop 549 in Hiram, after getting out of the 80-degree water but shivering in the 61-degree air temperature last weekend.

The Great Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which operates Camp Manatoc in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just completed construction of the new $2 million Manatoc Fitness and Aquatic Center.

The heated pool is more than just a place to swim.

It is more than twice as large as the nearly 40-year-old pool it replaced.

Plus, there is a new 10,000-square-foot bathhouse with separate shower facilities for boys, girls, men, women, families and those with disabilities.

“One thing customers are demanding is better bathrooms,” Great Trail Council Scout Executive Mike Jones said.

The shower facilities will be open all year, even though the pool will only be open during the summer months.

Along with the pool and bathhouse, there are basketball courts, a quarter-mile walking track and a 10-station fitness trail, or par course.

A patio next to the pool area was built in memory of Army 2nd Lt. David Rylander of Stow, an Eagle Scout, who was killed in Afghanistan last year.

The first group of 400 to 450 Scouts will arrive for the first of eight weeks of summer camp June 9.

“We are just thrilled it is going to be done in time for summer camp,” Jones said.

Boys began camping on the property in 1923, and the formal Manatoc campground opened in 1932. Campers swam and boated in Lake Marnoc, an artificial lake that was drained after the first pool was built in 1974. During the Lake Marnoc years, about 200 Scouts attended the camp each week — about half the number now, Jones said.

The old pool has been filled and will be the location for the summer camp staff, Jones said. A cabin that was on the site of the new pool was relocated.

Yet to be completed as part of the $2 million project is a 24-person Eagle Lodge, which will be built near an existing training lodge.

John Schremp, chairman of the construction fund drive, saw the finished facility for the first time last weekend as 100 Scouts tested the water.

“It is fabulous,” said Schremp, 70, retired president of Firestone Polymers and Firestone Natural Rubber Co.

“The community as a whole was very helpful,” he said of the individuals and foundations who donated to the project. He said the entire $2 million has been raised.

Jones said future plans include replacement of the outdoor latrines over the coming decade or so.

“Our customers are changing,” he said.

Twenty years ago, he said, there were few women involved in Scouting. Today, “20 percent of our adult leaders are women.”

The fitness facility will be dedicated at 2 p.m. today. The Rylander Aquatic Patio will be dedicated at 2 p.m. June 9.

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.