Amphitheater gets an overhaul

Paige Bussi’s Eagle Scout project takes center stage

When it comes to contributing to China Camp, our local Scout troops have been off the charts. Over the years, their projects have helped repair, replace, and rehab structures and facilities all over the park. So it’s no surprise that Scouts were recently at it again at our outdoor amphitheater at Back Ranch Meadows Campground.

Wait—we have an amphitheater? Yup, but the set of tiered benches created for presentations and programs, tucked into the back of the campground, hasn’t always been top of mind. Weather and time had taken their toll on the wooden seating and stage area, and the whole structure was desperately in need of TLC.

In came our long-time rescuers: the Scouts. This time they were led by Paige Bussi, who joined her first troop in 2019. The 17-year-old senior at San Rafael High School was looking for a project to go towards her Eagle Scout ranking. That’s when she zeroed in on the park, and how she could help.

“China Camp has always been special to me and my family,” Paige explains. “I wanted to improve it in any way possible.”

 Paige Bussi, Eagle Scout candidate

“China Camp has always been special to me and my family,” Paige explains. “We’ve had campouts out there with Scouts, and I visit the park often,” adds Paige, who loves backpacking, camping, and hiking. “I wanted to improve the park in any way possible. When I saw the amphitheater and heard that it hadn’t been used in years, it motivated me to somehow get it back into working condition again.”

With the help and guidance of Friends of China Camp Park Manager Chris Young, Paige set about creating a plan. “I worked hard on it to ensure success,” she notes. “I probably spent 30 hours planning. My favorite part of the project was bringing together a group of volunteers to accomplish a task that I had spent so much time planning.”

Paige had help from a host of people, including Marko Lavrisha, a local contractor who helped provide all the necessary skills and tools to help facilitate the project. Eric Schmies from Golden State Lumber generously donated the lumber.

“And my mom and dad, Mary and Peter Bussi, helped and supported me every step of the way,” adds Paige.

The project got the green light, and Paige got going, assisted by other Scouts from Troops 15, 101, 84, and 1015. The Scouts, aided by more than 15 parents and other members of the community, dug in. Volunteers removed rotten boards and put in 70 feet of new wooden seating. Then they primed and painted the whole amphitheater, and cleared away overgrown weeds, branches, and other debris that had accumulated over the years.

“The place looks amazing,” says Chris Young. “Soon it will be ready to host our regular programs, such as our Junior Ranger events and nature and history talks. But it could host a music performance or a movie night—the possibilities are nearly endless.”

Paige couldn’t be happier. “It’s a really cool spot and I look forward to hearing about all the activities held there,” Paige says. “It was really fun to see an idea turned into action, and to see the product of your efforts. I feel honored that so many people could come out and help, and it was definitely worth it to help China Camp.”

—by Harriot Manley/FOCC volunteer


Photos: courtesy of paige Bussi