The new Scouts headquarters at Middle Road, George Town, has been completed after a four-year building and fundraising project, ready to provide space for the Girl Guides and the Girls’ Brigade as well.
The organization received its certificate of occupancy on July 7.
The new hurricane-rated 46,000-square-foot, two-story building has offices, storage facilities, conference and computer rooms, a uniform and accessories shop and a place to display memorabilia.
The new headquarters will be the first permanent home for the Scouts since they operated out of the old Dobson Hall on the Harbour Drive waterfront in the 1950s and ‘60s, said Orrett Connor, Scouts chief commissioner.
“We are now anxious to get the Scouts, as well as the other two organizations, the Guides and Brigade, into their new home.
“What is really interesting is that we have three youth organizations under one roof with a combined membership of over 700 young people in one location, which is probably something that has never existed for the three organizations in our history,” he added.
It cost about $1 million to complete the building, which was originally expected to cost $800,000, according to Mr. Connor. The building replaces a government structure that temporarily housed a Scouts office at the rear of the current site. That building was badly damaged in Hurricane Ivan.
Government leased the property to the Cayman Islands Scouts Association at a peppercorn rate for 33 years, with the option to renew twice for a total of 99 years.
An official grand opening is in the works, but for now, Mr. Connor said, there will be a soft opening. As soon as the young people are back in school, an official grand opening will be scheduled.
Winston Hayle, Scouts executive commissioner, said he is “overly excited” and so are the boys, girls, parents, leaders and supporters. He said that with the new headquarters, the profile of the Scout movement will be elevated.
“We are in a far better position to implement programs and to reach the highest possible number of young people …” he said.
He added, “We are truly indebted to our main benefactor, Charles Jennings, the powerhouse behind the Scouting cause, and to the many individuals and other businesses who came on board.”
The Scouts are also looking forward to offering the new headquarters to the community with affordable rental conference room space. Mr. Connor said it will be available to the public at a minimal charge.
Mr. Hayle said the headquarters will also serve as a place where people can come together, including local guests and visitors. “With the new building they can now easily find us,” he said.
Members of the Garden Club of Grand Cayman offered their support by assisting with the landscaping.
Garden Club President Ora Hollebon said the club has taken on the landscaping for building, including ground cover, gravel and plants.
“Many of our members are off island and we received much needed help from Scouts, Girl Guides and from Dr. Steve Tomlinson’s gardeners, as well as Berna Cummins’s gardener. Both Dr. Tomlinson and A. L. Thompson are ‘Friends of the Garden Club,’” she said. “We will be planting shade trees among the beautiful, easy-to-maintain flower plants, and will also provide picnic tables and cement planters for the front of the building,” she added.
Mr. Connor thanked everyone in the private sector and government for stepping up and assisting with challenges along the way. He noted, however, that the work is not done because there is still annual maintenance and upkeep of the building, which means more fundraising.
Scouts’ history in Cayman
The Cayman Islands Scout Association is a branch of the U.K. Scout Association.
Scouting has been active in Grand Cayman since the 1930s. Many Caymanian leaders, businessmen, clerics and civil servants were in the Scouts.
More than 300 Scouts are in 15 troops, packs and colonies. Scouts include Beaver Scouts (ages 5-8), Cub Scouts (8-11), Scouts (11-16) and Venture Scouts (16-20).