Arizona Boy Scouts construct boardwalk at Mountwood Park
VOLCANO — A group of Boy Scouts from Arizona was living up to the organization’s slogan of “Do A Good Turn Daily” while at Mountwood Park Tuesday as they make their way down to the National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve near Beckley, W.Va.
Members of the Grand Canyon Council’s Troop 3324 were involved in doing a service project at the Wood County park where the Scouts helped construct a 100-foot raised wooden boardwalk as part of the park’s trail system.
The boardwalk will be located in an open meadow where the existing trail has been subject to erosion and causing problems for mountain bikers.
”We are going to have some real adventure at the National Jamboree, but no Scouting outing is any good without a service project attached to it,” said Scoutmaster Jay Caldwell. ”To be honest, we feel like we are being treated like royalty here. We are glad to be of service.”
The troop flew into Columbus, Ohio, and took a charter bus to Mountwood and will then take that bus today to the Summit where the Jamboree will be held July 19-28.
Caldwell said people have been welcoming since they arrived in the area Monday evening. They ate at a local Bob Evans restaurant where people greeted them and they had one man who offered to pay for their meal.
”The people have been amazing,” he said.
There are around 36 Scouts and four adult leaders. They come from Prescott, Flagstaff, Peoria, Surprise, Scottsdale and the Phoenix area.
The troop is set up like a traditional troop with four patrols with patrol leaders, a senior patrol leader, a quartermaster, a scribe and more. The troop has the Lumberjack Patrol, the Phoenix Patrol, The Patrol and the Coyotes.
The Scouts are ages 12 to just under 18 and represent the Scout ranks of First Class all the way to Eagle Scout.
”We have quite a few Eagle Scouts in the troop and a number who are very close to Eagle,” Caldwell said. ”The boys are already great Scouts. They have been learning how to work together as a team.”
With many being in West Virginia for the first time, a number of the boys had never seen lightning bugs before and were fascinated by them. Also, the humidity was something new for them as well as dew in the morning.
In how the troop operates, Caldwell said he tries to follow the example of Scouting’s founder Robert Baden-Powell where everything is done by the boys.
”A Boy Scout troop is led by boys under the leadership of men,” Caldwell said. ”We want the boys to do as much as they can possibly do. The adults want to be there to encourage them on those next steps.”
He expects the adult leaders will be taking a step back within the next couple of days and allowing the boys to take the lead on everything.
The boys worked throughout the morning bolting boards into place on the boardwalk, cutting boards and carrying boards.
”The scouts have been wonderful,” said John Reed of the Wood County Solid Waste Authority who is acting as the Wood County coordinator for the 55 County Initiative. The Initiative hosts scout troops from all over the U.S. in each of West Virginia’s 55 counties right before the Jamboree starts. While in each county troops are given a place to stay, food, a service project they can do and entertainment.
The National Guard 1092 Engineering Battalion set up large tents where the troop stayed, the park concessions service provided food, the park did some of the the preliminary work on the service project, digging footers and placing posts before the Scouts arrived and had maintenance personnel to help and supervise the work.
Carlin’s Battery D and other Civil War reenactors gave a presentation and fired off their cannon Tuesday evening. Also, Wood County Emergency Services brought out its Mobile Command Center to help if there were any problems and allowed the Scouts to tour it.
The Scouts were done with their work a lot earlier than expected and were able to spend some time on the park’s lake and were treated to a lunch of a West Virginia staple, pepperoni rolls. The Scouts were treated to a cookout with hamburgers, hot dogs and more Tuesday evening.
The scouts presented Reed and Park Director Jeremy Cross with posters from their council that each boy signed to remember them by.
”Everything has been amazing here,” said Caleb Brownlie of Prescott, a Life Scout working toward his Eagle. ”I think a lot of us are adjusting to the humidity and this is the first time I have seen fireflies.”
The Scouts have enjoyed their time at Mountwood Park and are looking forward to getting to the Jamboree today where they will participate in whitewater rafting, shooting sports, zip-lining, rock climbing and more in the coming days, he said.
Everyone they have encountered at the park has made them feel welcome, said Isaac Peterson of Prescott, a Life Scout working toward his Eagle.
”They really rolled out the red carpet for us,” he said. ”I am really glad we are able to do this service project as a way to say ‘thank you.’
”Everyone has treated us with such honor and I think this is the best way to treat everyone back. The landscape here is absolutely gorgeous and different than anything we have in Arizona. I can’t wait to see more of West Virginia,” he said.