In December, more than 600 campers staying aboard the USS Yorktown were a part of a very special celebration – earning a place in history as the 500,000th campers to participate in Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum’s overnight camping program.
The museum hosted a ceremony to celebrate this milestone achievement – complete with a special cake and goodies for the scouts, as well as remarks by Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails and entertainment by local performer, Bryan Dangerous. In addition, thanks to generous support from Coleman, each scout group received very special gifts to take home at the end of their experience – three tents, a stove and lantern for each troop!
Since its inception in 1980, campers from all 50 states and international destinations have traveled to Patriots Point to take part in one of the nation’s top overnight camping programs. In addition to exploring the USS Yorktown, campers have the opportunity to participate in a variety of exciting educational programs, including: astronomy, aviation, journalism, repelling and oceanography. Their visits also frequently include excursions to area-attractions and dining at local restaurants. In all, it is estimated that Patriots Point’s overnight camping program has contributed more than $60 million to the Charleston economy over the past three decades.
“For thirty-two years, the Patriots Point overnight camping program has shaped our nation’s future leaders while strengthening our economy at home,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. “We’ve seen scouts who come back every year; and some who bring their children and grandchildren years later. That’s 500,000 visitors to Charleston and the region who would not have otherwise visited.”
“We’re proud to make such a positive impact on so many lives, as well as the Charleston community,” Burdette continued. “Saturday will be a great opportunity for us to reflect on how far we’ve come and to say ‘thank you’ for making our program one of the largest continuously operating camping programs in the nation.”
“We are proud to support Patriots Point’s overnight camping program, which has brought 500,000 visitors to the Town of Mount Pleasant since 1980,” said Mayor Billy Swails, who also serves as an Ex-Officio Board Member for the Patriots Point Development Authority Board. “In addition to their stay aboard one of our nation’s most historic aircraft carriers, these overnight campers have visited our local stores, restaurants and attractions and have strengthened our economy. We look forward to welcoming the next 500,000 participants to Mount Pleasant.”
Helen Hill, Executive Director of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, echoed the significance of this program to the Charleston area.
“The Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is delighted to recognize the importance of Patriots Point’s overnight camping program as it celebrates hosting 500,000 campers over the last 32 years! These campers are an important part of our area’s visitor mix, and are estimated to have had a $60 million economic impact on the Charleston area,” Hill stated. “We look forward to many more years of this highly successful program.”
In the years ahead, Patriots Point will continue building upon the success of its overnight camping program by implementing exciting new programs including robotics and the National Flight Academy. These cutting-edge programs, coupled with marketing to new audiences, will enable the museum to achieve a goal set forth in the Patriots Point Three-Year Business Plan – increasing camping registrations to 24,000 per year by FY2016.