Illinois City, Ill.
Scouts can find a nice blend of fun activities and relaxation at Camp Loud Thunder. They can experience the new Climbing Tower and COPE Course, challenge each other to a game of chess using giant pieces, or jump in the gaga pit for an exciting match. They can savor a treat from the onsite ice-cream machine or try blacksmithing, using requirements from circa 1952 from the now-discontinued Blacksmithing merit badge.
More than 40 merit badges are usually offered, including Astronomy. Scouts get an educational evening of stargazing at the onsite observatory and learn from local college professors who stop by the camp to explain the heavens.
The camp sits on 300 acres near Lake George. Normally, it can accommodate 600 Scouts per summer at its 12 campsites. Loud Thunder was closed last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check with the Illowa Council for updates on the upcoming camping season.
Every night except Wednesday (that’s family night), you can sign up to visit the Thunder Corral, where older Scouts and adult leaders enjoy cowboy action shooting and younger Scouts fire paintballs at targets. Everyone can grab a pewter plate and pile it high with a chuckwagon meal of enchiladas, beans and rice, or venison, and grab a cold sarsaparilla soda. Oh, and on family night — when visitors are invited into camp and attend the Order of the Arrow callout ceremony — a turkey dinner with all the trimmings is served.
One program the camp hopes to launch is the Huck Finn Experience, in which Scouts travel to the nearby Mississippi River for an evening paddle to an island, where they camp for the night. – Michael Freeman
Find more Cool Camps and watch accompanying videos at go.scoutingmagazine.org/coolcamps
Photos courtesy of the Illowa Council.