RIO HONDO — It’s been a year in the planning. And yesterday, it started to become a reality.

The Boy Scouts of America Rio Grande Council broke ground on a new dining hall for Camp Perry yesterday.

Thirteen shovels, each representing a different scout law, plus an extra, lay against a pile of dirt waiting to be picked up by scouts who would benefit from the new dining hall.

The new hall is part of a larger plan to renovate the 90-year-old campground.

According to Rudy Gonzalez, the CEO of the Rio Grande Council, it’s been a year since the executive board first decided to rebuild Camp Perry.

The project entitled “Adelante Con Camp Perry!” consists of two phases, each coming with a hefty price tag.

The first phase involves a $6.1 million renovation that includes the creation of the new dining hall, sewage system, shooting range and pavilions.

The second phase will help Scouts who don’t have the financial needs to attend Camp Perry.

Gonzalez said the council is looking to prepare the young people of the Valley to be leaders.

“We want the next Mike Fossum to come out of the Valley,” Gonzalez said of the astronaut.

Gonzalez said the council hopes to have the first phase completed by the end of 2018.

While Camp Perry is the oldest camp owned and operated by the Scouts in the state of Texas, the facility will be open to the community and other organizations in search of space for meetings, conferences and trainings.

Manny Guerra, president of the Rio Grande Council, said the facility will seek to serve anywhere between 15,000 and 18,000 young people annually from different organizations.

“This is one of the greatest projects for Camp Perry and the youth of the community that will come before us,” Guerra said.

Guerra said a lot of individuals really stepped up to help make the project a possibility.

“The scouting movement is more alive than ever,” Guerra said. “We’re moving to the next 90 to 100 years.”

The old dining hall will be remolded as a welcome center.

Gonzalez said the second phase will take more to complete and will include possibly hiring a full-time ranger to help guard the property against trespassers.

Funds for the project have come in the form of donations.

Gonzalez said 50 individuals have donated to their cause and two foundations, Mabee from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation from Harlingen.

Although the majority of the funds have been raised, the council is $800,000 short of their goal for phase one.

Scout law

• Trustworthy

• Loyal

• Helpful

• Friendly

• Courteous

• Kind

• Obedient

• Cheerful

• Thrifty

• Brave

• Clean

• Reverent

Where will the money go?

• 18 new facilities

• 12 pavilions

• 3 refurbished facilities

• new swimming pool

• improved infrastructure

• seed money for full-time ranger

• facility endowment

• campership endowment

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