By C.V. Moore
THE SUMMIT —
The Summit officially threw open its gates to visitors on Wednesday, attracting 1,600 people within the first hour and a half of opening.
The Boy Scouts of America says that up to 50,000 visitors may attend the event, but when asked for the number of passes sold, they said they are not tracking these totals.
About a dozen visitors unloaded from the first motor coach shuttle on Wednesday morning.
Larry Niedershulte and his son, Ryan, drove 14 hours from Kansas City, Mo., to check out the Jamboree. Dad didn’t feel comfortable sending his 12-year-old to the event alone but wanted to find out whether it might be something to consider in the future. They are visiting for a couple of days, lodged at a chain hotel in Beckley.
“We are absolutely helping out the community and eating here locally and spending our money here,” said Niedershulte. “We’ve had a great time so far and it’s been a great state. I was really impressed by the number of hills. I had no idea it was so hilly.”
Jill Hersperger of Schofield, Wis., and her daughter, Elle, were among the first off the bus. They came because it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Hersperger.
They are spending one night in Beckley and took some time Tuesday for a bit of touring, exploring the New River Gorge National River, the New River Gorge Bridge, and Tamarack.
Then there are the Scouts themselves. Those officially enrolled in Jamboree activities will stay on site, but in some cases the contingents take a few extra days to explore visitor destinations en route to The Summit.
Ethan Bachand and his contingent from the Connecticut Yankee Council of Scouts spent a night prior to the Jamboree at a private campsite in the area.
“We saw signs all the way coming down saying ‘Welcome Boy Scouts,’ and we felt so welcome,” he said.
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