EL CERRITO -- Filling up his daily calendar with local volunteer gigs is no big deal for longtime resident George Fosselius.

And neither are recycling, gardening, composting and hauling Styrofoam to the El Cerrito Recycling Center.

These are things everyone should do, he insists repeatedly.

Good stewardship of the earth, giving to the community and passing on what he's learned in life all come together at a special spot for Fosselius -- the Boy Scouts' Camp Herms.

Nestled among redwood trees on a hill above Arlington Boulevard in El Cerrito, Camp Herms dates back to the late 1920s when community leaders bought a former quarry and created a permanent weekend Boy Scout camp.

Today, Camp Herms serves as a popular spot for Boy Scout campouts, and training seminars for the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council of which local Boy Scout troops are a member.

Camp Herms is a spot where Fosselius spends an enormous amount of his free time.

Throughout the week one might find him making repairs, weeding out invasive plants, instilling recycling practices as part of the camp's routine, or checking on things in the lodge's commercial kitchen that the Scouts rent to catering companies.

Summer camp director Cyndi Mallory said Fosselius is indispensable and a friendly, helpful presence.

"Between you and the ranger this camp wouldn't exist," Mallory told him recently.


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Camp Herms is nearly a second home for Fosselius, a place where he spent countless hours as a Boy Scout himself and then as volunteer leader when his two sons joined.

His sons are long grown, but Fosselius has not stopped giving his time to the Boy Scouts and to helping keep the camp well-maintained.

On a stroll through the camp one morning, he points out a large storage building. In front he weeds out some French broom, and also notes pots of plants that will soon go into the ground.

Within the camp there are also the ranger's house, a large pit for evening campfires and an archery range. In the back is a closed swimming pool made from local quarry rock that closed in the late 1970s drought.

Fosselius is a former Albany High School teacher and currently serves on the Boy Scouts' Mt. Diablo Silverado Council STEM committee, which seeks to find ways to encourage boys and families to secure badges in science, technology, engineering and math.

He's also a "Tread Lightly" trainer and a master educator in "Leave No Trace." Both are nonprofit organizations designed to encourage people to leave no marks behind after they enter wilderness areas.

His efforts have led to Boy Scouts adopting environmentally friendly principles and practices, he said.

Some of those are "catch and release" while fishing, staying on trails, packing out all garbage, and teaching youths and adults to brush seeds off their shoes to prevent spread of invasive weeds.

Fosselius, a UC Berkeley alumnus, is also a volunteer in Senior Corps, Berkeley Lions Club.

A San Francisco native who grew up in Albany, he said Boy Scouts have been a big part of his family as both his father and uncle were Eagle Scouts.

One of his earliest memories of Camp Herms is swimming at the now-closed pool in the early 1950s. He recalls a former city official sitting alongside the pool smoking a cigarette and laughs at the memory.

Such behavior would never be tolerated these days, he said, quickly adding that in Boy Scouts a bad habit is frowned upon, but not the person engaging in it.

Found tucked away in the woods off James Place, the camp is named after the late Professor and Lt. Col. William B. Herms. He led local Scouts from 1916 to 1949, and was a popular UC Berkeley educator and local scientist, according to a written history available on the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council website.

Opened in 1930 and first named Camp Berkeley, the Scout camp received an enormous boost through a series of Depression-era Works Progress Administration projects.

The work at the camp is ongoing as is the joy and satisfaction Fosselius gets from being involved.

Besides helping boys grow up responsibly, the Boy Scouts is also a big promoter of peace, citing troops that have set up in Israel and Iraq. Of the recent controversy over Boy Scouts not allowing gays to assume leadership roles, Fosselius said he's confident new leader Robert Gates will resolve the issue in a way that does not exclude people on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a group of young Boy Scouts gathered around a table at the camp recently, Fosselius watched and offered smiles of encouragement as the young boys tried their hand at making knots.

Within the camp's historic lodge, his eyes wandered across a wall of professional photographs of young men who have become Eagle Scouts, the highest rank.

He's been a curator of the display, and has helped arrange for photos.

Then, walking purposefully to the back of the lodge, Fosselius reached the recycling and garbage bins, pulled out all the Styrofoam pieces and put them in his vehicle.

Fosselius will take the chunks of Styrofoam to the El Cerrito Recycling Center where they will be compressed into bricks and shipped out to be made into other items.

It's all part of doing what's right -- giving back to the community and trying to leave as small a footprint on the earth as possible, he said. "You try to enable other people to do good in the world and lead by example."