Open Forum: At The Summit

Posted: July 29, 2013

At the new home of the Boy Scout National Jamboree — The Summit, near Beckley, W.Va. — more than 40,000 Boy Scouts spent 10 days camping, trading patches, and earning merit badges.

They also participated in activities ranging from BMX to scuba diving, firearm shooting to zip lining. One of the zip lines is more than 3,000 feet long, reaching speeds of more than 50 mph.

To participate in the Jamboree, a Scout had to be at least 13 years old and achieved the rank of First Class.

When local Shenandoah Area Council Troop A-126, with 36 Scouts and four leaders, arrived at The Summit, they had to set up everything except the showers.

All the gear the troop needed was stored in three crates, about four feet square.

After their tents and the dining tent was up, the Scouts set up the kitchen, containing everything needed to cook breakfast and dinner. The meals for each day are picked up at each base camp’s commissary area.

When breakfast is complete, everyone attends their activity for the day, which can be anything from whitewater rafting on the New River Gorge to skateboarding. There is also an entire day of service that is done in one of nine local counties that benefited from the more than 300,000 single hours by Jamboree Scouts.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve, donated by the Bechtel family, includes 10,000 acres; hence this site will always bear the name of the donors. This is the final destination of the National Jamboree, which has previously been held in many different places, including Fort A.P. Hill, the most recent Jamboree site in 2010.

This is also the fourth high-adventure base in the United States, with the others being Sea Base in Florida, Philmont in New Mexico, and Northern Tier in the northern point of Minnesota.

One of many objectives for Scouts at the Jamboree is to trade patches. Almost all of the Scouts traded several patches for others that represent other Scouts from across the state, nation, or world. Patch sets are traded, and many are worth a lot of money because of their limited production or rarity.

When the 36 local Scouts return home, each will be left with a memorable experience to tell their families and friends. Being some of the first to come to The Summit completes the transformation to West Virginia for the new home of the BSA National Jamboree.

Ben Smith, a 13-year-old homeschooler, is a resident of Frederick County. The Jamboree is held every four years.