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