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The Catholic Scouts Center in Bethlehem almost finished

The Catholic Scouts Center in Bethlehem almost finished

BETHLEHEM – The Catholic Scouts Center project is now almost finished since the end of March 2015. It will serve scouts groups, in total about 2500 members from all ages and both genders, in a centralized and comprehensive scout camping site and center.

Since the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (LPJ) was established in 1847, it has been active in promoting the best interests of the local community. For LPJ the family is the fundamental building block of the local community and of the society at large. The church takes a holistic approach in its work and assistance. While starting with the youngest group in the society, the children, LP builds outwards to serve the youth, the immediate parents, the surrounding community and ultimately the society as a whole.

Catholic scouts in the Holy Land go as early as the start of the 20th century. Evolving around the church scout groups is an organic outgrowth of its pastoral and social work. Scouting on the other hand is a civic movement that is built on Christian values of mutual respect and affiliation with the other but is also a very strong spring board for the formation of social   leadership. Scout activities that include excursion, camping, volunteering work, exchanges contribute to the making of the local society and especially the mobilization and involvement of children and youth.

Key to the formation of scouts is its ability to allow and ensure sustained exposure to scouting activities not only amongst the members of the same scout group in one certain areas, but amongst different scout groups that come from different areas. This dialogue and familiarization requires opportunities, a manner that requires adequate infrastructure on one side and programs that are designed to enhance youth leadership, terrains that allow for camping and facilities that encourage exchanges and hosting of common activities.

Despite the fact that there are 12 to 14 catholic scout groups in Palestine alone including Gaza, exchanges and joint program were mainly represented in main events such as the Christmas Parades, Epiphany, and Palm Sunday and blessed Saturday. After the execution of this project the meetings and exchanges amongst groups are now possible, thus allowing a larger and more organic dialogue amongst groups themselves.

In order to serve around often groups that represent around 2500 members from all ages and both genders, a centralized and comprehensive scout camping site and center needed to be established. The concept of having a centralized and permanent camping site is not the facility by itself which is essential of course, but rather that the scouts leaders assume the availability of such facility in their planning a manner that reduces activity cost on one hand and makes essential scouting activities such as reunions, camping, excursions and volunteering initiatives readily plan-able and executable.

The construction includes the following:

  1. Construction of the scouts center building of area of approximately 116.5 M2 that includes a meeting hall as administration room, a storage for the camping tents, a clinic, a kitchen, WCs and two bathing units.
  2. Finishing works for the building.
  3. Landscaping and external works .
  4. Allocation and moving seven portacabins from Mount of Olives to the site.

The design, preparation of tender documents only for the skeleton works were executed by FACE Engineering Office, the supervision on site is executed by LPJ technical department team and an external site engineer.

The project is realized thanks to the support of many donors, among them the Church in Need, the International Catholic Conference, the New Zealand Lieutenancy and others generous private donors.

On March 30, 2015, four scout groups from Bethlehem area (Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, Bethlehem parishes together with salesian scout groups) planted 103 trees in the camp. 200 more trees are also expected to be planted.

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