The vision — a local place for youth to set up camp, relax, learn and enjoy themselves in a more secluded spot at Weldon Springs, called Black Locust. This vision had multi-step missions of coordinating volunteers, funds, time, and more.
At this point, parts of this vision are almost completed, with the much-needed outhouse/vaults installed and ready to be used.
Black Locust Campground, found in the lower section of Weldon Springs State Park, near Clinton, came into being at some time in the past century. It served as a beacon for youth groups, such as Boy Scouts, to hold campouts, meetings, and other activities.
It found itself the victim of budget cuts in the early 2000s and was shuttered, the road down to the site fenced off and locked. Nature took its course and took back the area; trees, shrubs and grass covered the old campgrounds. The outhouse fell into complete disrepair and became a hazard.
But, in early 2015, a Scoutmaster from Clinton Troop 1142 took a hike that made him nostalgic about an area where he and other Scouts had gathered in their youth.
That hike, by former Scout leader Don Husted, led to a project begun in the summer of 2016 to reclaim the area. He worked with the Weldon Springs state officials to start cleaning the area. The Clinton Boy Scout Troop hoped to take the area and bring it back to full use.
Those Scouts and Scout leaders decided that they needed to make the area accessible and usable, just as it was back in the 1980s and 90s.
So began a project that consumed thousands of community service hours for the boys and leaders. They had to clear the brush, clear the trees and make it possible for heavy equipment to make the trip down to continue opening it up again. Ironically, one of their main obstacles was the black locust tree, an invasive tree species not from this area and for which the area was named.
• See the complete story in the Friay, Sept. 10, print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.