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Summit Bechtel Reserve

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MIKE RUBEN / The State Journal MIKE RUBEN / The State Journal
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Boy Scouts Bring Adventure to the State

By TAYLOR KUYKENDALL · tkuykendall@statejournal.com

This summer, thousands of Boy Scouts will flock to the National Boy Scout Jamboree to be hosted at the new Summit Bechtel Reserve just outside of Fayetteville. 

Before even arriving at the new reserve, which will be used for various purposes between jamborees, Scouts will encounter the beauty of natural West Virginia all around the camp. Specifically, there are more than 70,000 acres to explore in the New River Gorge National River Area with activities locals and visitors alike have been enjoying for years, such as rock climbing, biking, whitewater rafting and more. 

The first Boy Scouts of America national jamboree was held in 1937. Since that time, 16 national jamborees were held before it was brought to West Virginia.

Scouts won't just limit themselves to the New River Gorge or even just West Virginia, either. Part of the reason the Mountain State was selected was its proximity to other attractions.

"A tour of Washington, D.C., is only a few hours' drive away, and the entire region surrounding the Summit is filled with some of the most beautiful mountains in the country," the Boy Scouts tout in their media kit. "The Blue Ridge is just to the south, and the Shenandoah Valley is a short drive to the east. That's not to mention all of the incredibly scenic areas in West Virginia itself."

The event will be one of the largest ever in West Virginia, and local development officials are expecting to see a big success. The first event will take place from July 15 to July 24. 

"The opportunities and possibilities are limitless," the New River Gorge Development Authority stated. "This is good news for West Virginia, the New River Gorge Region and the Boy Scouts of America."

The base itself is the fourth high-adventure base the Boy Scouts have built. The others are the Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier and Florida Sea Base. The Summit, the Boy Scouts have declared, is "Scouting's next step." 

The Summit sits on 10,600 acres — an area almost twice the area of the nearby city of Beckley. The outer perimeter of the property runs about 22 miles. More than 30,000 Scouts are expected to descend on the property, bringing 10,000 adult volunteers and up to 25,000 visitors daily. 

Scouts will have the opportunity to go rafting and kayaking, rock climbing, run on zip courses, shoot clays, trap shooting, archery, mountain bike, skateboarding and more. While the adventure base is certainly designed for excitement, the facility also will focus on teaching service, leadership and sustainability.

Meanwhile, guests of the Scouts will have the opportunity to take in a sample of what will be going on at Bechtel.

"The Summit will feature a large visitor area, where day-users can try out some of the activities that the Scouts are dialing in around other parts of the Summit," the Boy Scouts tout. "Also, 2013 will be the first year that Venturers, a branch of the BSA that includes young women, will be part of the jamboree."

One early economic study conducted by the Boy Scouts of America estimated the National Jamboree alone might add $40 million in new local expenditures or more. Additionally, building the site was projected to support 4,000 local jobs and generate more than $100 million in local income. 

The Boy Scouts project was largely made possible by the Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the Stephen Bechtel Fund, which donated approximately $50 million to the Boy Scouts to help purchase and develop the property under the reserve.