By Wendy Holdren
In July 2013, the Boy Scouts of America were welcomed to their permanent Jamboree home, the Summit Bechtel Reserve, right here in southern West Virginia.
“The event was a phenomenal success to be the first Jamboree held on Boy Scout-owned property and the first national Jamboree to be held in West Virginia,” said Gary Hartley, director of community and government relations for the Summit.
Having a permanent Jamboree site was a historic moment for the Boy Scouts because in previous years, an entire temporary Jamboree site had to be constructed — showers, camps and activities sites — which would all be torn down at the event’s conclusion.
Jamboree Director Larry Pritchard said having a permanent home was exciting because the Scouts could “keep it, sustain it and build it.”
The first Jamboree at the Summit was the 18th national Jamboree and nearly 40,000 Scouts, Scout leaders, staff and vendors tested all the high adventure activities the Summit had to offer, including whitewater rafting, BMX, skateboarding, rock climbing, ziplining and much more.
The first Jamboree at a permanent home came with another first — girls were allowed to attend the event for the first time through a Boy Scout youth development program called Venturing.
Not only did the Scouts enjoy the high adventure activities July 15-24, they also completed a number of community service projects in Fayette, Raleigh, Greenbrier, Wyoming, Summers, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell and Nich-olas counties. The Scouts cleaned up litter, created new walking paths and worked on a host of beautification projects.
Scouts could also take part in activities at Technology Quest, a science and technology center at the Summit. Activities included helping NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse Jr. assemble a race car, learning more about crime scene forensics, playing with slime called Oobleck and even seeing the effects of a simulated zombie outbreak.
Dr. Mary Stevens, volunteer director of Technology Quest, said these interactive activities were set up to help Scouts become interested in fields that she calls “High Adventure for the Mind.”
Scouts are the leaders of the future, and with that future in mind, this past year’s Jamboree put a huge focus on sustainability.
“Going green” was showcased through the Sustainability Treehouse, which produces as much energy as it consumes through solar and wind power, collecting its own rainwater and using composting toilets to cut down on waste.
The Treehouse also featured an open air classroom where Scouts could learn more about protecting the environment and the science behind it.
The push for sustainability came from both the Scouts and corporate donors, and the BSA even unveiled its new Sustainability Merit Badge at the 2013 Jambo.
Scouts also took part in recycling, which was especially important because of the amount of trash 30,000 Scouts and staff accumulated. An estimated 11.5 tons of recyclable garbage was used each day, but the Scouts loaded up the recyclables and brought them to the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority.
On Saturday during the Jambo, the Scouts were treated to a performance from multi-platinum rock band 3 Doors Down. In March, Carly Rae Jepsen and Train canceled their planned performances at the Jamboree because of the BSA’s exclusion of gay Scouts. The debate led the BSA’s National Council in May to allow gay boys to participate in Scouting, but retain a ban on gay adults.
Although only the Scouts got to enjoy the full Jambo experience, parents and visitors were also invited to check out parts of the Summit, and even attend the 3 Doors Down concert. Hartley reported more than 15,000 visitors came to check out the Summit.
“This is a beautiful state with a great outdoor environment and even more important is the people of West Virginia,” Hartley said. “Ev-eryone from government officials to the locals really pulled together to make it a success.”
Even after the Jamboree was all said and done, the Boy Scouts were still giving back to the community — 14,000 pounds of leftover food from the event was donated to local food service agencies.
Next summer, the Summit will host the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base Camp. The Jamboree, which is hosted every four years, will return in 2017. The World Jamboree is scheduled in 2019.
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