Forney Construction – BSA Camp Strake

BSA Camp Strake pic

(Photo credit: Courtesy of Gensler)

Forney Construction is overseeing the construction of Camp Strake in Texas.
By Alan Dorich

When Camp Strake in San Jacinto County, Texas, opens in 2019, it will offer Boy Scouts summer experiences that they will always remember. “It will be a well-used camp for sure,” Thomas Franklin declares.

Franklin is the COO for the Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts of America (SHAC), which is building Camp Strake as its flagship camp. With its location surrounded by the Sam Houston National Forest, “It is a truly outdoor experience,” he says.

The camp will host up to 1,250 scouts and feature more than 100 structures, including its pavilions and a massive dining hall that can seat 450 people. It also will feature dorms, restroom/shower facilities, 20 campsites, a climbing tower, a shooting complex and a 28-acre lake.

The site also will have walking trails, buildings for meetings, medical clinics, a sewage treatment plant and an amphitheater for evening programs. “It’s going to seat 1,200 people,” Franklin says.

The Project Pie

Houston-based Forney Construction is serving as the construction manager on Camp Strake. Instead of hiring a single general contractor, Franklin explains, the council chose to hire multiple contractors because of the different types of construction involved in the project.

“We’re breaking the pie up into pieces,” he says, noting that Forney’s job will be to facilitate and manage the contractors, including WT Byler Co., which is completing site and road work on the project.

Forney Construction Manager Don Fernbach praises the work of the project’s designer, Stephen Klimas of Gensler Architects, as well as San Jacinto County Judge John Lovett Jr. “[He] has been helping us navigate through the new road permitting process,” Fernbach says.

“We’ve met with the local commissioners,” he continues, noting that the camp will be a benefit to the local region. “It should be good for businesses with kids being brought in every weekend.” FSA Camp Strake box

These will include the sales of gas, food and general supplies. “We also have been reaching out into the local construction market to purchase material, and [employ] contractors during construction of the camp,” he says.

Another important partner is Bill Scott, the executive vice president of Linbeck Group LLC, a building construction firm. Scott serves as a chairman for the project’s volunteer construction committee.

Scott has provided essential expertise, Franklin says. “I’m in the Boy Scout business, and I’m not a construction guy,” he jokes. “We need the volunteers to be getting this in the right direction.”

Routes Around Challenges

Forney Construction has extensive experience on projects like Camp Strake, including Camp Aranzazu, a camp for children and adults with special needs in Rockport Bay, Texas. The company’s owner, Tom Forney, developed the project, Fernbach notes.

He has experience with other SHAC projects, which is proving useful during Camp Strake’s challenging construction. “It’s been a long process trying to get all the permits,” he admits. These included obtaining a permit to build a road to the camp on an existing easement in the National Forest.

But this was further complicated when the project team discovered a red-cockaded woodpecker living on the federal land. Because the bird is endangered species, “We had to route the road around the woodpecker,” Franklin recalls.

Now, the council is in the process of obtaining a permit for the lake from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Hopefully, we’ll have it by the early part of March and then we can get started,” Fernbach predicts.

“Obviously, [the lake] is an important part of the camp, especially during summer in Texas,” Franklin says. “It definitely is a programmatic feature we need to have to keep the camp successful.”

The project team also hired a biologist to create the right habitat for the lake. “It’s going to have a variety of different fish as well as plant life and managed as a catch and keep fishing lake,” Fernbach adds. “We have drilled a well to be used to hold the lake a constant level.”

Unique Opportunities

The project team broke ground on Camp Strake in 2016 and aims to have it complete by summer 2019. Already, it has cleared land for the property for the facilities and now is at work on the infrastructure and roadwork.

The experience, Franklin says, is allowing the Sam Houston Area Council to share its best practices with the rest of the BSA. “We’re building a camp from the ground up,” he says.

“There’s no other council in the country that’s doing something like that,” he continues, adding that this will be his council’s permanent home. “It’s a unique opportunity we’ve got in front of us.”

Fernbach sees similar opportunities ahead for Forney, which also has completed projects for Girl Scouts of the United States of America. The company has built Camp Cho-Yeh in Livingston, Texas; Camp Kor Ah in Burton, Texas, Camp Prior in Nada, Texas, and Camp Tellepson in Navasota, Texas.

Although 50 percent of the contractor’s work is for the medical market, 27 percent consists of recreation and eight percent is non-profit. The company also is in the retail, corporate interior, worship, education and hospitality sectors.

Projects like Camp Strake allow Forney to utilize its commercial and residential experience, Fernbach says. “There’s a lot of moving parts,” he says.

“We are basically building an entire neighborhood community, [with] roads, utilities, sewage and water treatment, electric service, a 28-acre lake, dam and all new buildings,” he says, adding that all of this is to be completed on 500 of the 2,818-acre property.

Current Issue

Current Issue

Check out our latest Editions!


alan blog ct

Contact Us

Construction Today Magazine
150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60601


Click here for a full list of contacts.

Latest Editions

Spread The Love

Back To Top