COLUMBIA — Every summer, about 800 Boy Scouts and 300 Cub Scouts venture to the Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation near Laurie for a summer camp filled with swimming, archery and other activities.
"It helps provide young people with opportunities to develop life skills and self-worth," Blake Franke, committee chair for Troop 705 in Columbia, said.
Franke sends about 20 of his scouts to camp each summer.
Doug Callahan, scout executive at the Great Rivers Council, said the council wants to expand its range for archery and shooting sports at the scout reservation with part of a major contribution from a Columbia couple.
The $500,000 gift from Larry and Brenda Potterfield, founders of MidwayUSA, a shooting supplies company, to the Boy Scouts of America National Foundation will fund about 20 grants to councils beginning in 2013, and the Great Rivers Council plans to apply for one.
"The Potterfields want the grants to be used in ways to get more youth exposed to shooting sports, thereby keeping kids in scouting longer," Callahan said. "We'll be asking for a grant specifically to help us with a new action archery range and a new long-range rifle range."
The council plans to add a sporting clay shotgun range as well.
The scout reservation has a rifle range and an archery range, Callahan said. The new rifle range would be designed for longer-range shooting.
Callahan said the council hopes to extend its programs to include the spring and fall.
Chip Sandstedt, scoutmaster for Troop 707 in Columbia, who sends about 30 scouts to summer camp each year, said that availability of spots on the rifle and shotgun ranges are limited.
"I can see why he'd like to expand this because it's always popular," Sandstedt said. "Any time you can expand that or make it so that instead of only being able to use eight guys at a time on the rifle range ... it means you can get more guys in there."
Brenda Potterfield serves as a member on the executive board of directors. Callahan said she helped the council secure a grant with the National Rifle Association several years ago for the existing rifle range.
The Potterfields are also the main sponsors of the council's sporting clay tournament held at Midway Farms, 20 miles northwest of Columbia.