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Boy Scouts to complete more than 350 W.Va. projects for Jamboree

By Candace Nelson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Rusting fences, chipped paint on playground equipment and overgrown gardens across nine West Virginia counties await sprucing up by the Boy Scouts of America.

With the National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve less than 60 days away, the surrounding nine counties are preparing for more than 350 service projects as part of the July 15-24 gathering.

"Service projects are an integral part of the foundation of Scouting," a representative of the Boy Scouts said in an email. "The Scout Oath includes the phrase that a Scout must 'help other people at all times,' reminding us to always be of service to others.

"Scouting was founded on the premise of doing a good turn daily.

"Additionally, community service is very important in the character-building process and, as Scouts, we have made commitments to give back to our communities."

Related: Massive Boy Scout complex nears completion

For the first time during a Jamboree, Scouts will travel off site for a day of service.

On each of five days between July 17-19 and 22-23, about 8,000 Scouts will head to project sites in McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Greenbrier, Summers, Nicholas, Wyoming and Fayette counties.

Scouts will work from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on clearing brush, performing repairs, removing weeds, cleaning litter, painting, planting, landscaping, constructing walkways and shelters, pouring concrete and more.

The 40,000 Scouts will complete about 300,000 hours of community service.

Jennifer Douglas, chief operating officer of the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, said while the total economic impact won't be known until the projects are completed, "it will have to be in the millions."

The Boy Scouts approached the CCC for help coordinating the projects because of its ability to manage complex programs, Douglas said. Her organization has acted as the clearinghouse for all service projects.

"They've never done a day-of-service component during a National Jamboree, although they have done them in World Jamborees," she said. "This is the largest community service effort of its kind to ever be performed in the history of the country."

The CCC partnered with communities to help determine the best service project options for the Scouts. First, it identified nine "champions" - one for each county - to act as a voice for the movement, organize community leaders and recruit volunteers to get involved with the project. These champions were suggested by county commissions.

The CCC then met with communities and devised five focus groups - wellness, green-friendly, culture and education, infrastructure, and construction - to see what needed done.

Local banks, schools, churches, businesses and others put together wish lists of service projects. An application was created.

Douglas and her team reviewed all the requests and evaluated the scope of work. Some of the projects are fully funded while others required grants and fundraising.

Among the more interesting projects: At Summersville Lake, Scouts will install a walking trail alongside the lake that will give people access to the rock-climbing area.

The world's longest flower box - more than 2,500 feet - will be installed in Davy, McDowell County, Douglas said.

An outdoor environmental classroom will be constructed at Shady Spring Elementary in Raleigh County.

"We didn't want to throw out quality projects just because Scouts couldn't do a portion of that project," Douglas said.

"There are certain things Scouts can't do - like no power tools or above certain heights. The Scouts are the largest labor force, but we also have other volunteers coming in that can help out on the couple of things the Scouts can't handle."

AmeriCorps, Volunteer WV, church groups, businesses, other state CCCs and other volunteers will be involved.

With 8,000 Scouts leaving via bus to nine separate counties, the CCC is working to address potential problems. In addition to making sure GPS coordinates are correct and working with 911 officials and the state Department of Homeland Security to accommodate thousands more people in the area, the CCC also conducted a trial run.

In the fall, each county did a demonstration project. The efforts included maintenance projects in Nicholas County, landscaping in Raleigh County, delivering an entry marker in Wyoming County and building trails in Summers County.

After the dress rehearsal, the CCC was able to evaluate what processes worked and the minor improvements that could be made before summer.

Initially, the CCC assigned one manager to each service project, but during the trial run, it decided two would be beneficial. One can act as backup in the event that one person is sick or cannot attend because of unforeseen circumstances.

The organization now is training two managers per project and finalizing preparations.

"It's mind-boggling," Douglas said. "When we first started 24 months ago, I looked at the number of days we had, and it looked so far away.

"It's been crazy - we're only 60 days away from all this happening, and it's coming together really well. It's amazing to see so many different groups of people of different personalities and from different entities coming together."

The 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Reserve in Fayette County is now the permanent home to the National Scout Jamboree. More than 50,000 Scouts, volunteers and staff are expected to attend.

The Boy Scouts of America has received commitments from donors in excess of $240 million for the area.

For more information on volunteer and donation opportunities, visit www.cccwv.com.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at Candace.Nelson@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/Candace07.

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