November is the time of year that most people pause to give thanks and reflect upon the accomplishments of the year. The Boy Scouts of America has a tremendous amount to be thankful for this year.

In fact, we have an entire state to thank. Beginning with the selection of the site in 2008, the state of West Virginia has helped us every step along the way as we’ve worked together to build the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in southern West Virginia. The Summit is the largest project ever undertaken by the Boy Scouts of America, and we couldn’t have achieved this world-class facility without the tremendous support we have received from the state of West Virginia and its people.

In July, our collective hard work paid off as we welcomed nearly 40,000 attendees to the 2013 National Scout Jamboree and the Mountain State.

In addition to engaging in the outdoor experience of a lifetime, our participants got a taste of the wonderful hospitality of the people of West Virginia as they contributed more than 148,000 hours of community service in completing 350 projects in the nine counties surrounding the Summit. The great success of this initiative ensures it will be a lasting component of the programs at the Summit as a way to help our young people learn the importance of giving back, just as the people of West Virginia have given so much to us.

While 2013 was the inaugural year of the Summit, we have our eyes set on our future here in West Virginia. The BSA plans to continually expand its use of the Summit property, including hosting special events that will be open to the general public.

The Summit high-adventure base programs opening in June 2014 will focus on adventure, sustainability, leadership and service. In 2015, the focus will shift to adding a national Scout camp to the Summit’s program suite and in 2016 a national training center.

The next National Scout Jamboree is scheduled for 2017, and the Summit will also host the 2019 World Scout Jamboree where we are expecting visitors from approximately 160 countries.

The BSA couldn’t have found a better home for the Summit; it’s a natural fit. West Virginia’s motto is “Montani semper liberi,” or “Mountaineers Are Always Free.” This way of thinking goes hand-in-hand with the BSA’s emphasis on the outdoors. We often say that the outdoors is the laboratory in which Scouting comes to life. What better laboratory could one find than West Virginia’s natural beauty and the recreational paradise that is the region known as the New River Gorge.

Simply stated, this is a perfect partnership and one for which we are enormously grateful.

In case you haven’t seen our thank you billboard on U.S. 19, we want to publicly thank the state and its people for the tremendous support we received in launching the Summit and in hosting its first National Scout Jamboree.

Speaking on behalf of the entire Scouting family, including generations to come — Thank you, West Virginia. Thank you for helping us bring the ultimate Scouting experience to millions of young people and for helping us shape the future of Scouting and the young people we support. We look forward to a great future as we continue to expand the Summit and our partnership with West Virginia.

— J. Dan McCarthy is director, Summit Group, Boy Scouts of America.

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