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Editorial: Scouting facility has more big events ahead

Jul. 30, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The 30,000 scouts and leaders who attended the Boy Scout National Jamboree in West Virginia headed home last week, but the impact of the West Virginia venue has just begun.

National scouting officials seemed thrilled with the event and the new 10,000-acre facility near Mount Hope. The jamboree was billed as physically demanding, and the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve delivered on that promise with hiking, climbing, biking, zip lines and whitewater adventure.

For the next few weeks, the staff at the reserve will be busy breaking down tents and cots, storing equipment and taking stock of the first big event at the $300 million high-adventure facility. But there will not be much time to look back, because there are big things ahead.

The National Jamboree will return in 2017, and in 2019, the World Scouting Jamboree will be held at the Summit. The world event is held every four years, with the most recent being held at Rinkaby, Sweden, in 2011. About 40,000 scouts from 143 difference countries attended that event.

The 2015 World Jamboree is planned for Kirarahama, Japan, and then West Virginia will be the site of the 24th world gathering, the first time it has ever been held in the United States.

The reserve also is scheduled to host smaller Scouting groups in the years in between.

Starting next summer, the Summit will be open to individual scouting groups for their own outdoor adventure experience. The camps will run from June 8 through Aug. 16, and scouting groups as small as seven to 12 youngsters can participate.

The seven-day programs will focus on adventure, sustainability, leadership and service, and groups can choose different activity options, including whitewater rafting and hiking and camping in the New River Gorge area. The groups also will spend at least a half day on a service project at the Summit or the surrounding area.

Clearly these national and international activities will help spread the word about the Mountain State's "wild and wonderful" outdoor recreation around the world.

"I heard that a lot from people who were wanting to come back to visit," Kenova Scout leader John Pickens, who attended this month's jamboree, told The Herald-Dispatch. "They were already planning on how they could bring their boys back for another taste of (the Summit) or bring their family and spend some time here."

That word-of-mouth promotion is hard to beat, and the reserve should have a steady impact on regional tourism for years to come.

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