By Julia Sendor
FOR THE REGISTER-HERALD
GLEN JEAN —
Twenty-two golden shovels sank into the ground at The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve on Friday, where the Boy Scouts of America also announced key new donors, as well as the official dates for the first Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.
With a $25 million contribution from The Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation, an undisclosed amount from Mike and Gillian Goodrich, and other anonymous contributions, the future jamboree site and high-adventure base has now attracted more than $100 million in donations in less than a year.
Congressman Nick Rahall emphasized the dynamic impact the new site will have on the region.
“This will truly put West Virginia on the international map,” he said. “It is truly a game-changer for our economy in West Virginia — and, I will add, a game-changer for the Boy Scouts. It could not be a more perfect fit — using the natural resource we have and the New River Gorge preserve. It was the magnet, I truly believe, that drew the Boy Scouts to West Virginia.”
This magnet ultimately will draw an estimated 50,000 Boy Scouts and 300,000 visitors to the first Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, which, BSA officials revealed Friday, will take place July 15-24, 2013. The BSA chose the 10,600-acre site in the Glen Jean-Mount Hope area last year.
After the first jamboree, focus will shift to a permanent high-adventure base that will host an estimated 48,000 scouts each summer.
Rex Tillerson, BSA president and CEO and chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp., agreed with Rahall that the new base will be a game-changer for the BSA as well as for West Virginia — especially as the BSA celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year.
“The Summit is really the keystone of the second 100 years of scouts,” Tillerson said. “The importance of The Summit is to give the scouts a national destination. It’s the experience in these types of environments that we know really changes the lives of young people.”
Tillerson described the life-shaping importance of a Boy Scout’s jamboree or high-adventure trip: joining fellow scouts from a variety of backgrounds and sharing an intense outdoor experience while learning core values of leadership, integrity and teamwork.
“You leave feeling different about those values,” he said. “You’re going to take them back to your community. (The scouts) leave forever changed.”
Walter Scott Jr., a Distinguished Eagle Scout and former CEO of Peter Kiewit Sons Inc., said he believes the leadership that The Summit can foster will be vital to the future of the nation as a whole.
“Our country faces a lot of challenges, but I believe if we make sure our future leaders are of good character, the kind of character the Boy Scouts have influenced for thousands of youth, our country will be in good shape,” said Scott, who attributes much of his own success to lessons learned in Scouts.
“I believe the lesson Scouts provided in forming goals and achieving them was a formative experience in my success in my life — and it was also just plain fun,” he said. “I enjoyed the opportunity to learn new things, I enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow scouts and I especially enjoyed camping. The love and respect for the outdoors and our natural environment that scouting instilled in me continues to this day. But my childhood troop in Omaha (Neb.) could never have imagined anything like what The Summit will be. It is simply spectacular.”
The $25 million gift from The Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation will fund construction for Scott Scouting Valley. In recognition of Mike and Gillian Goodrich’s contribution, the National Scout Reserve’s primary lake will be called Goodrich Lake.
Mike Goodrich, fellow Eagle Scout and retired chairman and CEO of BE&K Inc., said that not only the beauty but the spirit of West Virginia caught his imagination.
“I think the West Virginia culture and work ethic and that of the Boy Scouts line up very nicely,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great partnership.”
Tillerson explained that The Summit’s proximity to major highways and airports also made it an ideal candidate, helping West Virginia beat out 80 other site proposals. The Summit is within a one-day drive of 70 percent of the BSA population, he said.
“We’ve never had a site that gives us this kind of access to a large population.”
Already, construction has employed 150 workers and invested more than $20 million for West Virginia contractors, according to BSA spokesman David LaValle.
An economic impact study conducted in August 2009 predicted that the next phase of the project, for which ground was broken Friday, will create over 600 local jobs and inject $30 million in income.
Local Boy Scouts and district staff claim they have already begun to feel the influence of the National Scout Reserve announcements.
“It’s been a big boost in fundraising because businesses are starting to catch on to the economic benefit that (the National Scout Reserve) is going to bring,” said Trey Aliff, Seneca District executive. “A lot of the community has really enjoyed the fact that even though it’s a national economy, there’s a focus on local companies.”
He added, “It’s a whole lot easier to recruit Boy Scouts when I tell them that in their backyard is a site where people from all over the world will come.”
The BSA is also lobbying to host the 2019 World Scout Jamboree at the new National Scout Reserve.
Eagle Scout Marshall Sharp of Charleston, who served in the color guard at the ceremonies, said he is excited for these major developments in an organization that has supported his own growth.
“Other kids get into stuff that they shouldn’t,” he said. “Scouts keeps you on the straight path and helps you make something of your life.”
Standing on the newly seeded ground in the sloping Scott Scouting Valley, Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca promised that the initial excitement will only grow; the BSA is committed to continuing the project full-force.
“As a matter of fact, folks, we burned the ships on the beach,” he said. “There’s no going back.”