The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 19, 2013

Scouts do work in national park

By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald

GLADE CREEK — The way Sean Brame sees it, Friday’s work by Boy Scouts at Glade Creek was simply a matter of giving back to someone else.

Brame, a York Haven, Pa., resident who is a member of Lewisberry, Pa.-based Troop 284, is an amputee who lost both legs below the knee, his right hand and most of the left hand after he took a spill on the soccer field in 2005 and sustained a bacterial infection which he said nearly cost him his life.

“Boy Scouts is a chance for me to give back what people gave me,” said Brame, who was one of over 300 Scouts — some whom are movement-challenged due to disabilities — who arrived by bus to complete a variety of tasks at Glade Creek in the Middle Gorge of the New River Gorge National River.

“When you’re younger, you don’t necessarily value life and what it means to give back.”

Brame said he hoped the work the Scouts did Friday will benefit many people down the line.

The day-long work was part of the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative — a combined effort of the Boy Scouts of America and the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia. Various Scout troops and their leaders joined with the National Park Service to accomplish numerous improvements to Glade Creek.

Brame says he hasn’t let his situation slow him down. A Cub Scout when the incident occurred in April 2005, he says he recovered enough that he was “up walking and ready to go by November.”

He’s since received the Order of the Arrow, which recognizes Scouts who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives, according to the BSA; participated in a previous Jamboree; and has continued with numerous activities with the Boy Scouts and in his personal life.

“The only thing that can stop me is my mind,” he said.

Tim Birt, the Jamboree’s disability access services leader, termed the day “fantastic.”

Birt said Scout members who have been identified with mobility issues joined with their own Scout troops and made the trip to Glade Creek. Each participating troop Thursday had at least one Scout facing mobility issues. The key, Birt said, was to “make sure the Scout could do the project and not get left out.”

Birt also said he feels the project will be important to the future of the Glade Creek facilities.

“Having this project enabled the Scouts to be able to help the community,” Birt said. “And Scouts with disabilities actively participated in that.”

While helping with the various repairs, Birt said several disabled Scouts were asked toward the end of the day to test the improvements to see if they will help handicapped individuals. “Every site met their approval.”

Overall, the day was “very inspirational. The boys loved the project.”

Leah Perkowski-Sisk, a New River Gorge park ranger who served as a public information officer for the project, welcomed the Scouts and the work they completed during the one-day project at Glade Creek, a popular Raleigh County destination for visitors, including fishermen. The contingent’s efforts were important, she said.

“Ultimately, this is going to be an area that is user-friendly for mobility-impaired people,” she said. “(The work) will make it better for all visitors, especially mobility-impaired visitors.”

Among the projects were improvements to the Hamlet and Glade Creek trailheads, refurbishment of Glade Creek’s accessible campsite, and river access improvements.

— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com