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Scouting for New Technology

08 June 2022 Todd Rogers

Subject matter expert Todd Rogers explores how BIM and CAD workflows, coupled with technology, transformed Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Strake.


Digital technology was utilized at every opportunity to lower costs, pinpoint precise locations, bypass permitting, and export workflows directly to contractors in the field, resulting in efficient data collection to design a 2,816-acre site.

I recently had the honor of being invited by Autodesk to lead a webinar, speaking on behalf of Camp Strake. Camp Strake is a 2,816-acre Boy Scouts of America facility located in the heart of the Sam Houston National Forest in Coldspring, Texas. The camp, which costs approximately $68.5 million, will open for camp in summer 2020. This project is the largest development in the history of any local Boy Scout council in America. Comparable to a university campus or a small city, this camp will be a transformational outdoor adventure experience that will equip youth with a foundation for leadership.

Surveying the heavily wooded 2,816 acres would have incurred a very extensive cost. Lidar and the ESRI Collector for ArcGIS app on an iPad were utilized. There was no local survey control, and because of the density of the site, it was not financially feasible. This app allowed the contractor to find their location based on the overall site layout. Within the app, pinpoint locating could be accomplished to get the precise location of the design that was done in Civil 3D.

Now that the site was laid out and the location of facilities determined, the design of the site could commence. Two of the major design challenges were:

  1. The endangered species habitat. The existing road had to be realigned to avoid disturbance of the natural habitat.
  2. The proposed 28-acre lake. Excavation of the adjacent hillside to fill the bottom of the lake was graded and earthwork calculations using Civil 3D. We were able to bypass permitting for the United States Army Corps of Engineers by simply balancing the site with the software. Also, by utilizing Civil 3D in our workflow, we were able to export out the digital elevation model that was uploaded to excavators out in the field and was used in machine control.

By using ESRI’s Explorer app on an iPad, the proposed site was overlaid on an aerial that was geo-located. The architect used this to adjust building locations to maximize viewscapes. In turn, the contractor utilized it for general site location and micro-level demolition.

With a limited number of resources, we were able to provide efficient and adequate data for the design and build of this 2,816-acre site. All firms teamed up and collaborated in a way that made this project come to life. This facility is a first-class, state-of-the-art, design for the scouts and their leaders.

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