Camp Maluhia, the largest Boy Scouts of America camp in Hawaii, received $1.5 million from the state for facility improvements and repairs as part of $41.2 million in state funding for capital improvement projects released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on June 6.
Scouting officials said the state money will help install a new 60,000-gallon water tank used for fire suppression while the group continues to revamp the popular campsite.
"Camp Maluhia is a heavily utilized resource for the Maui community, and unfortunately it has been neglected over the years," Boy Scout Executive Robert Nakagawa said. "We are trying to reinvest to make it what it can be for our community."
Local Boy Scouts are not the only ones who use the camp. Every year, dozens of school groups, visiting Scout troops, nonprofit organizations and the Maui community occupy the camp for retreats and gatherings, according to the camp website. The camp is occupied 60 percent of the year and 95 percent of weekends throughout the year.
With that much use, the buildings and campsite need constant upkeep, Nakagawa said. However, some buildings have not been updated since the 1930s, when the camp first started, he said.
Last November, the Maui County Boy Scouts of America started a campaign to raise $7 million for renovations to Camp Maluhia. Now, with the recently approved $1.5 million from the state and a $250,000 grant from the county for the planning and development of a new dining hall, the Scouts are nearly halfway there, Nakagawa said.
While the Scouts have mostly focused their fundraising efforts on private foundations and state and county grants, Nakagawa said they will launch a public campaign soon.
"We wanted to see what we can raise first before going out into the community," he said.
Despite not having reached the $7 million fundraising goal, improvements at Camp Maluhia have begun. Scouting officials installed two new restrooms earlier this year, and they plan to have the third restroom installed by next year.
Imua Family Services has been hosting its weeklong summer camp program for special needs children, Camp Imua, at the Maluhia site for the past 37 years.
About 57 special needs children took part in this year's program. Children were able to play at the beach, surf on paddleboards, zip-line, go horseback riding and even take a helicopter ride.
But it is Camp Maluhia's large swimming pool that is one of the major draws for special needs children, according to camp organizers.
"Swimming is therapeutic. It's something all skill levels, even paraplegic children, can do," Imua Family Services Executive Director Dean Wong said. "Someone who has autism can still swim, deaf children. . . . Everyone is on the same playing field in the water."
No other campsite on Maui has a swimming pool, Wong said.
He added that the location of the camp - about eight miles from Central Maui - is another perk.
"It feels like you're far away because it's secluded, but it has quick access to town so if we need medical attention or supplies, it's only 15 minutes away, which is important especially for special needs (children)," Wong said.
Other Valley Isle projects that received state funding this month include:
* $6.5 million for dam construction and reservoir maintenance on Maui and Kauai.
* $2.9 million for the reroofing construction and an emergency generator connection at the Department of Health facility at Kamauleule Building. Part of the funds will also go toward improvements at Oahu's Waimano Ridge building and other "miscellaneous improvements."
* $660,000 for Phase 1 of the Waiohuli Community Center.
* $200,000 for construction to replace the ramp, two loading docks and parking lot improvements at Mala Boat Ramp.
* $120,000 for roof and flooring replacement and electrical systems upgrade at the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Office.
* $66,720 for replacement of central boiler system at Maui Community Correctional Center.
Statewide, public libraries received $4.6 million for improvements, and rockfall and flood mitigation initiatives received $3.5 million.
"These projects are contributing to Hawaii's improving employment and economic growth, predicted to outpace the national growth rate over the next year," Abercrombie said in an announcement. He added that his administration has released more than $1.5 billion for capital improvement projects since taking office in 2010.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.