Camp Wisdom suffered a tremendous loss this year after thieves accessed the fenced property operated by Circle Ten Council and devastated the council’s Cycling Merit Badge and Mountain Biking Adventure Programs by stealing or damaging most all of the program’s equipment. Camp Wisdom also saw the kindness of generosity of the community as nearly all stolen and damaged equipment was replaced in a matter of weeks.
The thefts occurred over consecutive nights and stolen items were staged in the woods near the point of entry, as some of the bikes were recovered inside camp hidden in the brush. Although multiple buildings were targeted and other items stolen, the hardest hit was the council’s bike barn, the storage location for all the mountain bikes for the council’s Cycling Merit Badge and Mountain Biking Adventure Programs. Among the council’s losses were 23 mountain bikes, a new Air compressor, spare parts, and volunteers’ personal tools for bicycle and trail maintenance. Losses were in excess of $20,000.00; items stolen did not appear to be replaceable during the 2021 camping season.
Circle Ten Council’s Cycling Merit Badge and Mountain Biking Adventure Programs gained serious traction in 2008 as a Unit-to-Unit Cycling Merit Badge Program when youth of Richardson’s Troop 728 would instruct other Scouting units on weekend camping trips. The morning program consisted of bicycle inspection, safety, maintenance, and first aid associated with bicycle-related injuries. The afternoon program consisted of basic skills training followed by a ride on the mountain bike off-road trail. In 2010, the youth instructors chartered Venture Crew 2629 as a mountain biking adventure unit, continuing their instruction program, and taking their mountain biking passions to Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. They even joined the program staff at the 2013 National Jamboree in Glen Jean, West Virginia.
In 2012, Circle Ten Council purchased a fleet of new mountain bikes to support the unit-led program, expanding the program to council Scout camps and giving the program infrastructure. Mountain bike trails began to be built at Scout Camp Wisdom by adult and youth volunteers. From the trail building initiative, new subjects of instruction arose such as Identifying Invasive and Poisonous Plant Species, Natural Trail Building on Durable Natural Surfaces, and Soil Conservation. With the council’s support, the program became mainstream in it’s very first year, being a requested program at camporee, summer camp, Venturing Rendezvous, Powderhorn, and winter camp.
As soon as the thefts were discovered, the alerts went out to every local bike shop, volunteers canvased local pawn shops, and social media was lit-up like a firestorm with local television and radio news media sharing the story. Within days, the community supplied local law enforcement with many credible leads on at least one individual, and a possible location of the program’s equipment. Law enforcement from multiple municipalities visited the suspected location only to find one mountain bike, and the remnants of others.
With no mountain bikes for the summer program, no budget to replace them, and a worldwide bicycle shortage due to the pandemic, it was looking as if the summer programs involving the mountain bikes would have to be cancelled. Camp Director Scott Arrington hoped to keep the program going this summer with more than 100 kids signed up to earn their cycling merit badge at summer camp. “Our point of view is here’s the situation we have and how do we move forward,” he said. “We are going to make it happen, regardless,” Arrington said. “Exactly what that looks like or how we get there is still up in the air, but the outreach from the community has been inspiring.” Then, things began to happen.
Local volunteers returned to local bike shops looking for suitable used trade-ins to be donated or purchased. Ken “Woody” Smith, owner of Bike Mart stores knew something had to be done. “If it’s local, we are in,” he said. With a flurry of calls and meetings, Smith delivered a dozen bikes to the program. He knew others would do the same. And they did! GT Bicycles Inc. shipped bikes directly from their distribution center to Camp Wisdom and long-time program donor, local 501c3 organization Spokes for Folks, donated several suitable bikes to the program. Other local 501c3 organization’s members from DORBA, and various members of the cycling community have donated parts and tools in efforts to get the program back on its feet. Support did not stop at the volunteer level as Dick’s Sporting Goods also made a significant contribution.
The council’s cycling merit badge and mountain biking adventure programs are back in action once again! Our council and the Scouts we serve extend our most sincere gratitude to the community at large for helping us ensure that our Scouts have a cycling program this summer.