ELBERT, Colo. — The Boy Scouts of America, the Denver Area Council and Saunders Construction have broken ground on a renovation and expansion of the Kephardt Dining Hall at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch.

Originally built for 350 campers, the Kephardt Dining Hall at Camp Cris Dobbins now averages 500 campers per week during the summer. The renovation and expansion will allow 700 people.

The project is part of the "Growing Future Leaders" fundraising campaign to improve camp facilities. The campaign has raised $11.2 million of its $18.2 million goal.

“Every year, approximately 33,000 children are positively impacted by the Scouts in the Denver Area Council. The camp programs at Peaceful Valley provide a critical connection to the outdoors for our youth,” says Greg Schmidt, president and CEO of Saunders Construction, and Denver Area Council Trustee, in a news release.

“These much-needed improvements will ensure these important programs continue to provide kids a lifetime of memories and instill in them the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent,” adds Schmidt.

A new 3,600-square-foot wood deck addition and a 1,200-square-foot kitchen addition to the Kephardt Dining Hall will be completed during the first phase of the project.

Construction of the first phase is expected to be completed in time for the next camping season in early Summer 2019.

The project will also include upgrades to the fire sprinkler system, a new heating and cooling system in the kitchen area, and renovations to the basement, first floor and second floor.

The second phase of the Growing Future Leaders campaign will later aim to address infrastructure upgrades to the camp grounds including potable water, waste water treatment, electrical service, and communications.

Preliminary Rendering of Dining Hall Expansion