Biloxi Boy Scout Camp Searching For Post-Katrina Help

Like generations of Boy Scouts, John Hermes has fond memories of summer camp at Camp Wilkes.

"It was fun," say Hermes. "It was something to look forward to all summer."

John's now assistant scout master of his old troop, 212, which is based at Camp Wilkes. A place that's forever changed by Katrina.

"It's devastating," says Hermes. "It's all gone. It's all gone. Many buildings are down."

Senior Camp Director A.J. Stanovich is equally devastated by the camp's condition.

"That's all that's left of a 2 story block building right here," says Stanovich pointing to a slab.

This is Stanovich's 55th year as the camps director, and by far his most challenging.

This storm now has destroyed five of our major buildings, three rest rooms, the pier, the water tank, every power wire in camp is down.

The mess hall, we've lost all the tables, the ice machines, the ice boxes, the walk in coolers.

But that's not to say he hasn't had a lot of help in cleaning up.

"We've probably had at least 2,000 girls and boys, college kids out here in the last 2 months coming out every day and it's amazing what has been done."

Stanovich is grateful to all the volunteers who've gotten Camp Wilkes to where it is Sunday.

But now he's asking for more help particularly from professionals like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and bricklayers.

And he needs their help in a hurry.

"We run a summer camp one week out here every year for 2,00 boys and a staff of about 80. And unless we get these buildings we lost put back in operation there's going to be 90 boys that are not going to be able to go to summer camp this year."

That camp begins in less than two months. And those who grew up living for it, are putting their best efforts as well as their faith behind the man who's made it happen for more than a half a century.

"His whole life is out here, says Hermes. "He holds it together."

If you would like to help, please call A.J. Stanovich at 374-4343 or 3884240