The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 22, 2013

How to keep 'em motivated

Scouts today like high adventure, Scoutmasters say

THE SUMMIT — It takes more than building a campfire and pitching a tent to get kids out of the house and away from their computers nowadays.

That’s the word from Steve Mitchell, veteran Scoutmaster from Indianapolis who has been Scouting for the past 18 years.

“You’ve got to get outside and have some fun,” Mitchell explained. “Kids these days are heavily connected to electronics. It’s hard to get them into the woods to see nature unless you offer them some high adventure, such as zip lining and shooting.”

And that’s not the only impediment when it comes to getting youngsters interested in the Boy Scouts of America.

“Basically, we deal with all kinds of kids these days,” Mitchell said. “A lot depends on the home status. We have lots of kids from single-parent families. There’s not a lot of adventure there. So Scouting provides that for them.”

Watching the Scouts grow up to become really good men is one of the joys of being a Scoutmaster, according to Mitchell. “A lot of our boys grow into leadership. We see them go from Tiger Cubs to Eagle Scouts. Many of them come back to thank their Scoutmasters years later. It seems to mean more to them afterward.”

Mitchell and his associate Scoutmaster Leo Bernier are spending the week at the Summit with their Troop B341. “If you can’t find something to do here, it’s not out there anywhere,” Bernier said. “This is a great facility. It’s impossible to do it all in the short time you have to spend here. We’re looking forward to coming back in a couple of years.”

Some of the Boy Scouts from around the nation are in agreement when it comes to showing appreciation for the sprawling Fayette County facility.

“You really have to be in good physical condition to do all the walking and climbing here at the Summit,” explained Grant Wilchman, 17, of Little Rock, Ark. “There are a lot of possibilities to do different things here. It’s really a scenic place for a Jamboree.”

Karl Sheeran, 16, of Dallas, Texas, said the Summit offers a good experience for Scouts overall. “It makes you strive to do better,” he said. “I had to push myself to higher limits. Climbing on the ropes at the rock wall is a strenuous activity. You have to take time to catch your breath when you are doing some of this stuff.”

Danny House, 14, of Los Angeles, Calif., said things are spread out at the Summit but the rewards are well worth the walk. “It’s hard at first, but it becomes easier over time,” House explained. “It’s fun to hike up to all the activities. It’s been humid and hot and the weather is always changing. The sun is shining now but 10 minutes ago it was pouring rain.”

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