New Boy Scout cabin in Baiting Hollow to be named for Andrew McMorris

12/19/2018 6:00 AM |

A new Adirondack-style cabin is planned for Camp Baiting Hollow in honor of Andrew McMorris, who died in October at age 12, after being struck by a drunken driver while hiking with his Boy Scout troop in Manorville.

His family, Troop 161 and the Suffolk County Council of Boy Scouts of America are setting out to raise $100,000 for the new cabin, which will be known as McMorris Lodge.

The 3,200-square-foot cabin will replace one that was built in the 1950s, according to camp director Jim Grimaldi. Designed to accommodate 40 Scouts, it will be outfitted with a kitchen, bathrooms, showers and a great room, he said.

Plans on how to memorialize Andrew within the cabin have not been finalized, but the troop is discussing ideas with his family. “Every cabin has its own feel,” said troop committee chairman Jane Sherman. “We’re hoping the memorabilia in the cabin will be related to Andrew and will somehow tell his story.”

After news of Andrew’s death spread, the troop received letters and posters from Boy Scout troops nationwide — and even had people reach out from Canada and Scotland, Ms. Sherman said. She’s hoping to use those notes in a memory board of some kind.

“We’re hoping it’ll be a place to go back and visit and feel his spirit,” while doing something positive for Scouts on Long Island, she said.

Boy Scouts from Nassau and Suffolk counties use the facilities for sleepaway camps and other activities, such as a spooky walk and breakfast with Santa, but it bears special significance for Troop 161.

Many of the troop’s older members have worked there as camp counselors. “It’s our home away from home,” Ms. Sherman said.

In the aftermath of Andrew’s death, Camp Baiting Hollow opened its doors to Troop 161 for a retreat camp-out in lieu of a council camporee planned around emergency preparedness. 

“We had a quiet weekend. The boys went and played football and gaga ball” and were joined by their families around the campfire at night, Ms. Sherman said. “It was a good healing process for the troop.”

Mr. Grimaldi said a low ropes team-building course had been built at the camp in memory of Ralph Jackson, a 21-year-old Boy Scout from Medford who died in 2010. “[His friends] just lost a good friend. They wanted to do something,” he said. At the time, it gave them something meaningful to work on together.

Nearly a decade later, friends still return to the camp, Mr. Grimaldi said. 

A rendering of the Adirondack cabin.

“They go right to that wall to remember Ralph, and we hope that this can be a place those who want to remember Andrew can come back to as well.” 

Though he didn’t have exact numbers, Mr. Grimaldi said the county BSA council has raised around $15,000 so far. 

In addition, a GoFundMe page created in October by three Riverhead alumni, all Eagle Scouts, quickly raised $23,216. Those funds have helped with counseling and troop activities, Ms. Sherman said, and some will be put toward the new cabin.

Cross country and track teams from Riverhead, Shoreham-Wading River and Miller Place high schools joined together Saturday to host Andrew’s Run at Shoreham-Wading River.

Danelle Rose, a Miller Place junior, began organizing the 2.5-mile run/walk event in late November. Andrew’s dad, John McMorris, had been her guidance counselor in middle school. “I wanted to bring the community together in the wake of Andrew’s death,” she said Saturday.

Troop 161 Scoutmaster Matt Yakaboski, who also coaches the Riverhead boys cross country team, said he was “very impressed with Danelle for setting everything up.”

Mr. Yakaboski’s son, Matthew, was one of the Scouts who was injured in the October incident.

The run’s $10 entry fee and additional donations resulted in a $7,900 check presented to Troop 161 that will be put toward the new cabin. More than 400 participants registered for the run. 

Andrew’s parents thanked the community for their support.

“[We’re] very happy the community can come together like this to honor Andrew’s memory,” Mr. McMorris said Saturday.

In a Facebook message posted after Andrew’s Run, his mother, Alisa McMorris, wrote: “It warms our hearts that the communities joined together and came out for this wonderful event during the busy holiday season. We are completely in awe of everyone’s efforts, participation, support and love. We are humbled in knowing that so many Scouts will be able to benefit from that building for decades to come.”

Several more events are planned in Andrew’s honor, including a polar plunge on New Year’s Day to support Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Ms. McMorris said. 

Fundraising for the cabin through events like Andrew’s Run is a way to heal, Ms. Sherman said. “We can focus our energy into something positive.”

To make a donation in support of the cabin, visit sccbsa.org/mcmorris. See more photos of the run below.

WITH ELIZABETH WAGNER

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