In every way but one, it’s your typical Boy Scouts of America camp.
There’s the archery range where an instructor helps young people aim for the bull’s-eye. There’s the climbing tower with Scouts scaling all four sides. There are the Scouts roasting marshmallows for s’mores. And yes, there are even the port-a-potties.
But there’s that one big (er, small) difference. The camp in question is made entirely from Legos.
A Scoutmaster in Utah created this 25-square-foot Lego replica to showcase all the amazing things young people can do in Scouting. It’s a masterpiece both in its scale and its level of detail.
To decide what to include, Richard Nelson turned to a rather reliable source: his own experiences as a Scout volunteer.
“I have attended many, many Scout camps over the last 25 years,” he says. “I had a good idea of what I wanted my Lego camp to look like.”
He first built it in 2011. Every year, with the help of his grandkids and some Scouts from Troop 158 of the Utah National Parks Council, Nelson rebuilds the camp — brick by brick — to help spread excitement about Scouting.
I caught up with Nelson to learn more.
How it began
A lifelong Lego enthusiast, Nelson began using the toy bricks and figurines at troop meetings to help Scouts understand different Scouting concepts.
He created six Lego Scouts — more on that in a second — for the Scouts to use while learning about hiking, Leave No Trace, flag ceremonies, safe swimming and more.
He provided the tools, and the Scouts taught one another.
“I let my Scouts organize each of the Lego Scouts and other parts to portray the concepts we were teaching,” Nelson says. “My Scouts wanted to play with Legos every Scout meeting. And they seemed to understand and remember the Scouting concepts we were learning.”
How to build a Scout
In 2011, Nelson decided to make an entire Scout camp from Legos. He quickly learned about one big deficiency in the Lego store’s selection.
“There is not a Lego Scout you can purchase from the Lego store,” he says. “I had to find each piece that would make up a Scout.”
He used the torso from Indiana Jones, where Harrison Ford wears something vaguely resembling a Scout shirt. He discovered that a Star Wars lightsaber made a perfect hiking stick. He found baseball caps, green pants and red bandanas to finish the ensemble.
With that hurdle cleared, it was time to build the camp itself — a process that would take six months.
First, he sketched everything on paper.
The entire camp, he decided, would measure 5 feet on each side. It would be broken down into three smaller sections, so Nelson could put it in the back of his pickup or someone else’s SUV.
The level of detail is astounding. At the waterfront, you’ll see two canoes stored upside-down — just like at a real Scout camp. Next to them, Nelson has placed a container holding all the paddles and a stack of life jackets.
In a nod to the inclusivity that’s a signature part of Scouting, Nelson’s diorama includes three Scouts using wheelchairs.
It takes a ton of work to build — and rebuild — the camp each year, but Nelson says the reactions from Scouts and non-Scouts make it worth it.
“I highly recommend that leaders consider making their own Lego Scout camps, even on a smaller scale,” he says. “The Scouts will love it.”
Attention to detail
Check out the photos below, and look for these details:
- A waterfront with canoes, rafts, a river, scuba diving and snorkeling
- A nature area
- An orienteering course
- An Order of the Arrow amphitheater
- Latrines and five porta-potties scattered around the camp
- A first aid area with an ambulance and a doctor
- A climbing and rappelling tower with ropes and a zip line
- Scouts fishing — and catching fish
- A mountain biking trail that encircles the entire camp
- A trading post and Scout lodge
- Scouts cooking hot dogs and marshmallows
- Bushes and flowers all over camp
- A winter camping section with skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and ice caves
- Wolverine from the X-Men