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Co-ed scouting group getting first taste of National Jamboree

Jul. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. -- Cristah Artrip may be working a cash register at the Boy Scout's National Jamboree, but the Winfield resident couldn't be more excited to take part in the first jamboree held in West Virginia at the new Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Mount Hope.

The 17-year-old, who will be a senior at Winfield High School, is working as a volunteer through the Venturing Crew, a youth development program through the Boy Scouts that is open to men and women between the ages of 14 (13 with eighth-grade completion) and up to 21. This is the first jamboree that has been open to Venturing crews, adding to the estimated 40,000 scouts and staff that are staying on site.

Artrip was introduced to Venturing Crew by a friend when she was a freshman. She is fond of the outdoors and community service, so the program seemed like a good fit. And she's getting both at the jamboree.

Working there also is helping her build the resume she needs to earn a bronze award. But it was as much about celebrating West Virginia as anything else.

"It's in West Virginia. That's a big deal," Artrip said. "It's nothing but impressive. It definitely makes me proud to be from West Virginia."

It's also been a lot of fun. She has made many new friends, including her two bunkmates who are in Venturing crews in Florida and Texas. Artrip also has gotten to experience much of the high-adventure thrills that were built at the Bechtel Family Reserve, including the zip lines and mountain biking.

She also has enjoyed chatting with scouts and visitors who come through her checkout line. She said many people have been talking about how great the scouting camp is and the welcoming feel they've received from West Virginia.

"I'm so proud that 50,000 more people could appreciate the beauty our state has," Artrip said.

Like many at the jamboree, meeting new people can spur lifelong friendships or open up doors for the future. That happened to Artrip while walking on one of the trails. She met a couple and struck up a conversation. When Artrip mentioned that she would like to go into the medical research field, they put her in touch with a friend who is a doctor in California who worked on the HPV vaccine.

The only thing that Artrip would like to see the Boy Scouts change is the cost to volunteers to come and work at the jamboree: $425 for youth and $850 for adults. She said she understands there is a cost for hosting some 7,000 volunteers, but that kind of money is hard for some teens to afford.

Thankfully, Artrip's grandparents gave her an early graduation present so she could quit her job and attend the jamboree, which she thinks could have a big impact on her life.

"I wouldn't say (the jamboree) is life changing, but life enriching," Artrip said. "It's motivated me to push the limits and step out of my comfort zone."

Artrip is part of Venturing Crew 762, which includes Putnam and Cabell counties. It is youth-led, with monthly meetings held to discuss service projects and outdoor adventures, which have included rock climbing and curling.

Those who fall within the age requirements and are interested in learning more can email Artrip at whs2014@ymail.com.