The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 23, 2013

OH, BOY! West Virginia 'experience' not just for scouts

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

— They’re heeeerrrre…

   That’s what retailers, tourist spots, restaurants and other businesses will declare come July 15, when the Boy Scouts of America and company, a widely varied projection of 80,000 to 100,000 people, descend. If the numbers with an at least 20,000-person differential hit near target, West Virginia’s census stands to increase a full five percent for 10 days. Following the Jamboree 2013 Opening Ceremony, parents and travel chaperones who do linger will have to wonder: What do we do now?

Karen Vuranch and Experience West Virginia have more than a few suggestions. They have 70, to be exact. As program coordinator, Vuranch represents a consortium of West Virginia’s colleges and universities collaborating to give Scout and non-Scout related visitors their own adventures with a complete schedule of activities and more than 70 different workshops and events.

“We banded together for this purpose, knowing the Boy Scouts would bring a lot of people to the area, but we are open to everyone. We want people to know the university system is here and is active,” said Vuranch.

Schools offering programs and workshops, some free and some with modest associated costs, include Concord University, Bluefield State College, New River Community and Technical College, Bridgemont College, Southern WV Community and Technical College, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and W.Va. State University.

The expert-planned programs promising mountain memories to spare are listed fully on Experience West Virginia’s website, Variety abounds for all ages, like a Mad Science of West Virginia camp for kids, an etched glass make and take for adults, History Alive! and theatrical performances, pottery making and Civil War medicine. Each diverse component is developed to be as hands-on, entertaining and educational as possible.

“The Experience West Virginia website is really the gateway for all the activities, and it’s where you can sign up,” Vuranch explained. Holly Clark, project director, divided activities listed on the site for wide appeal into the areas of art, history, nature, performance, safety and science.

Vuranch will be teaching through historic portrayal on Concord University’s campus. The actress/teacher/playwright’s Appalachian Studies program has long been a favorite of those interested in mountain culture and she has adapted it to a concentrated summer version, commencing with different performances for seven days of the 10-day schedule. “Beginning July 15 in the afternoon, I will be doing a series of lectures followed by a performance. One lecture is about the Civil War in Appalachia and an actor portraying Gen. Robert E. Lee will perform.”

For a different perspective of the Civil War, Lewisburg’s West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine has prepared a workshop detailing what medicine was like during the Civil War era. The presenter will also be in period costume. For those squeamish to battlefield medicine, a walking/ shopping tour of downtown Lewisburg may be more the ticket.

Bridgemont College, Montgomery, has organized an energy tour, where visitors will visit a coal mine  and a mountaintop removal site and learn about both fossil fuels and alternative energy.

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Mullens campus will host an ATV training and safety course, following which participants will experience the Hatfields and McCoys Trail firsthand on ATVs.

At West Virginia State University’s Aerospace Educational Library, Beckley, visitors will learn about the principles of flight, mathematics, and experience a ride in a flight simulator.

Four hands-on artist workshops will be hosted by Tamarack as part of the activities.

“We want visitors and residents to know that these programs aren’t just about the Scouts, they are available to everyone. The Scouts coming simply revealed the opportunity to uncover what’s available through West Virginia’s universities and colleges,” stated Vuranch.

— E-mail: