COLUMBIA, SC — Boy Scouts will be lining up boards and turning screws at Sesquicentennial State Park on Saturday, marking the culmination of an effort that added 600 picnic tables at state parks in 60 days at no cost to the state.
Not only was the scout labor free, but Cox Industries donated the 600 picnic table kits. Cox CEO Michael Johnson, an Eagle scout himself, was looking for a special community project that could focus attention on scouting and state parks. His Orangeburg-based company manufactures treated outdoor wood products.
“It was really never a project about Cox Industries,” Johnson said Thursday while standing in front of a bunch of young scouts at a ceremony on the State House steps. “These guys behind me will be able to take their kids to a state park and look at a table they built.”
Gov. Nikki Haley and Duane Parrish, director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, both called the project an ideal public-private partnership. That’s even though all the state agency did was offer scenic places to put the tables in 32 parks.
“We hadn’t bought picnic tables in three or four years because it’s easy not to buy picnic tables” during tight budget years, said State Parks director Phil Gaines.
The agency probably won’t need new tables at most parks for a few years. The Cox kits were designed to be sturdy, and scout troops all over the state jumped at the chance to contribute to the parks where they often camp and play.
“We were proud to be a part of this impressive project because it fits well with the timeless values and core principles of scouting,” said Doug Stone, CEO of the Indian Waters Council.
Scouts who participated earned a special “600 in 60” merit badge. The effort kicked off the first week of March at Sesquicentennial Park, and it finishes Saturday with another set of tables at Sesqui. The Midlands park was assigned 50 tables in the project.
The project’s impressive statewide totals include 2,043 scouts providing 2,100 hours of work, inserting 10,000 screws into 135,000 pounds of wood to create 600 of the 225-pound tables.