CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Scouts will be swinging from treetops, biking over mountains and shooting at targets in just a few short months when the Boy Scouts of America hosts the National Scout Jamboree in July.
Since 1981, 40,000 Scouts, leaders and staff have gathered for the 10-day event at Fort A.P. Hill U.S. Army Base in Virginia. But the Jamboree's new, permanent home is nestled in the West Virginia hills.
The Boy Scouts reviewed 80 sites in 28 states before deciding on the location.
"I'm not sure we could've done this in any other geographical location in the country," said Mike Patrick, Summit operations director. "We've had the cooperation of the state, local authorities and contractors, and I think that's the reason we are where we are and as complete as we are at this stage."
The Boy Scouts of America purchased a 10,600-acre plot of land in Fayette and Raleigh counties next to the New River Gorge National River that is now about 90 percent of the way to becoming The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, said Gary Hartley, director of community and governmental relations for the Summit. The Boy Scouts have received commitments from donors in excess of $250 million for the area.
"Most of all the roads are in place, and the utilities are being finalized. And we're continuing building 336 showerhouse restrooms - getting running water and electric and a septic system," Hartley said. "We'll be dressing up the property right up until the Jamboree."
The Jamboree, which will be July 15 through July 24, is allocated about 1,000 acres of the Summit - primarily for campgrounds for the Scouts.
"We're making flat land for camp sites in this phase. We're taking what was mine land, where highwall mining had been done, and they timbered a good bit, too," Hartley said. "We've tried to maximize mine benches - reclaim those mine benches - so it's previously mine land that just needs to be further contoured. It's kind of like building soccer fields or football fields. We need the water to roll off, but not so much that scouts fall out of their tents. We're about 90 percent complete on that."
Included in the 1,000 acres for the Jamboree is the Summit Center, which will have large tents for national exhibits and display activities the Scouts will be involved with for visitors.
A large part of the remainder of the property will remain natural. The other portion will be high-adventure bases, which are activity areas outside the main part of the Jamboree. There are currently three other high adventure bases: Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier and Philmont Scout Ranch.
The Summit will include:
"The Folks building the mountain biking love the rolling hills here," Hartley said. "They've developed world class trails on the property. The rolling terrain is beneficial here."