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Gorge outfitter excited for Scouts coming in for rock climbing

Jul. 14, 2013 @ 02:55 PM

CHARLESTON — Later this week, The Boy Scouts of America hosts its first national Jamboree in the New River Gorge, and one outfitter sees the outdoor-adventure mega-event as an opportunity to introduce thousands to rock climbing.

Officials at ACE Adventure Resort say that while not all 40,000 scouts who are expected to attend the Jamboree will be interested in climbing, they do expect interest in the sport to increase over the next half decade as a result.

Staff are considering how they'll reshape the climbing program at the resort, which hosts more than 2,000 climbers annually, according to Josh Sapio, director at the resort's climbing school.

Determining how best to manage more climbers at the resort or on the 10 miles of sandstone that rim the gorge of the New River is no easy feat, he says.

"We realize that we'll have the opportunity to introduce thousands of youth to climbing this year -- not necessarily during the Jamboree, but throughout the year and in years to come," Sapio said.

"By establishing a permanent home here, the BSA is not only turning thousands of scouts onto climbing in the New River Gorge, they're turning thousands more onto climbing by publicizing the region."

A merit badge in climbing is one of the more coveted badges a scout can acquire, and toward those ends, the Boy Scouts have installed a world-class climbing complex at its 10,700-acre Jamboree site, Sapio said.

ACE also maintains private climbing areas along the cliff-line on its property, where guides train beginner climbers and host clinics.

Officially known as the Bechtel National Scouting Reserve, or The Summit, the site of the Jamboree, is also being developed as one of the organization's four national high-adventure bases, at which more than 100,000 scouts annually will be trained in outdoor-adventure activities, such as climbing, biking, hiking, and whitewater rafting.

Beyond the Jamboree complex, ACE Adventure Resort has been a proponent for climbing and outdoor adventure in the New River Gorge since the 1980s. Its 1,500-acre property extends into the territory of the national parkland only five miles from The Summit.

Established in 1981 as American-Canadian Expeditions, ACE hosts more than 50,000 rafters annually on the New and Gauley rivers and offers more than a dozen additional outdoor-recreation opportunities, including zip-lining, rock climbing, and ATV touring.

The resort was designated the largest adventure resort in North America by The Travel Channel in 2010, based on the number of guests it accommodates, the number of adventures it provides, and the size of its facility.

For more information on climbing programs at ACE, call 1-800-787-3982 or visit aceraft.com.