GLEN JEAN, W.Va. -- Participants at the national Scout Jamboree have settled in to their tents, and now area businesses are anticipating an onslaught of customers.
John Cameron, a board member at the private Hammerstone Scout Museum in Lillington, N.C., has attended previous Jamborees and said area roads are typically jammed with thousands of visitors who'll shop, eat and take in tourist attractions.
The 10-day Jamboree is the first in southern West Virginia after being held for nearly three decades before that at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.
Cameron said the Virginia military base saw daily traffic jams during the Jamboree. In West Virginia, visitors will park at a designated area off U.S. 19 in Bradley before being taken by bus to the nearby Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.
"John Q. Public is going to pull off of this highway - thousands of cars," Cameron said.
Next to the parking area, Cameron set up a tent filled with baskets of thousands of colorful badges from Scout troops and from previous Jamborees. He said his oldest Scout badge goes back to World War I and sells for a few hundred dollars. He's offering to sell or trade badges for this year's badges.
"We have a blast doing it," he said.
After Monday's initial wave of Scouts whose buses stopped at a check-in site before heading directly to the Jamboree, managers at area shops and restaurants were hopeful that predictions of sales as torrid as the weather will come true.
Sheetz store manager Johnny Lewis in Bradley said several extra workers have been called in. And at the Cold Spot across from the Jamboree's entrance in Glen Jean, manager Crystal Salisbury won't mind having to restock supplies constantly.
"I'm hoping it gets so slammed that we get rid of it every day," she said.
Businesses that could see a big boost are along a 16-mile stretch of U.S. 19 from Bradley to Fayetteville as well as in nearby Beckley. Hotels were booked to near-capacity, although some had a few rooms still available.
One of the biggest attractions will be the New River. Adventures on the Gorge alone will take 5,000 Scouts on whitewater rafting trips over a five-day period starting Wednesday. That's about a 40 percent increase from normal rafting trips in July.
Managing partner Dave Arnold said Scouts will be handled in waves with rafting guides working multiple trips. They'll start in Prince. Buses will then drop off Scouts at Thayer and, at the same time, pick up rafters arriving from Prince. The same thing will happen in Thurmond and Cunard.