The local Grand Rapids Boy Scouts chapter recently launched a campaign titled “Build Character Today, Lead Tomorrow” to expand the DeVos Family Center for Scouting. The goal of the expansion is to help make scouting more accessible, specifically to Grand Rapids area kids through a program called “ScoutReach.”

For almost 20 years the DeVos Family Center has served the scouts with minimal issues. However, upcoming needs presented an opportunity to rethink the center and how its 28-acre site could best serve the Boy Scouts in the future.

Progressive AE teamed with the scouts to develop a vision and master plan for the DeVos Center. The vision included the following objectives:

  • Identify existing limitations and opportunities of the building and site.
  • Discover the highest and best uses of areas of the site.
  • Identify and prioritize the needs and vision for future facilities to coincide with the intermediate and long-term needs of the organization.
  • Create a master plan that would live on as a sounding board and aid in future decisions related to facilities, yet remain flexible.

The vision for the revised building is to serve as a “program delivery center” and offer a single location for many activities including: outreach and team building, S.T.E.M. programming (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), outdoor education and other similar activities. The new facility will be made available to scouts, local businesses, schools and the community.


Devos Family Center for Scouting

Moving forward, the objectives include the following components:

Deferred Maintenance

Some of the deferred maintenance projects will include:

  • Replacement of the parking lot
  • Adding asphalt shingle roofing
  • Enhance roof insulation and ventilation
  • Paint the exterior and replace trim
  • Exterior door replacement
  • Accessibility improvements
  • Fire protection system upgrades
  • Mechanical upgrades
  • Technology enhancements

Program Delivery Center

The renovated program delivery center will include:

  • Classrooms, meeting and lecture areas that are visible and easily accessible from the building entrance and lobby.
  • Program spaces with natural light and views to the outdoors.
  • Appropriate catering and technology support for both scouting and conference programs.
  • An accessible, but not central, location for the scout store.
  • Shared work areas for outside groups and collaborators that partner with scouts.
  • More flexible and collaborative work areas for administration and volunteers.
  • Better connection between administration and production areas.

Site Development

  • Accommodate outdoor activities that have a connection to indoor programs (i.e. building and engineering challenges; drone launching and STEM classes; climbing and rappelling paired with leadership training).
  • Camping facilities to attract scout troops and increase use and engagement with indoor and outdoor activities.
  • Outdoor classrooms to advance education and training for subjects like: environmental issues, water resources and energy, orienteering, geocaching, shooting sports, climbing and rappelling.

Devos Family Center for Scouting

Future Program and Facility Enhancements Funding

We worked with the scouts to develop a plan to fund not only the building renovation and additions, but to also to help sustain programming for future scouts.

The following design principles were developed during the visioning and master planning process.  These principles will guide the design of the new scouting center.

  • Take advantage of proven scouting structures and methods to develop tomorrow’s leaders among the youth of West Michigan.
  • In the spirit of Scout reach, demonstrate Scouting’s commitment to all individuals in all communities by creating an open and inviting facility and programming.
  • Enhance the Scouting brand by ensuring that the DeVos Family Center for Scouting remains at the core of this values driven organization.
  • Connect to the strong history and traditions of Scouting while embracing innovation in the building and its programming.
  • Create an environment connected to and enlivened by the outdoors.

Upon successful completion of the campaign, the goal is to design the facility for construction beginning in the fall of 2016 and ready for activity the following summer.

 Craig Nicely is an architect with 35 years of experience with a focus on designing environments that support, enrich and promote growing and learning.

We welcome your thoughts and comments on this topic and how we can provide the best possible planning and design services to our clients, advancing the mission of the organization and enhancing the community we serve.