PARKERSBURG - The new Boy Scout High Adventure Camp at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in southern West Virginia will produce benefits for Parkersburg and the entire state, officials told a group of community members Thursday evening in Parkersburg.
About 20 community members, including local government and business leaders, gathered at the Blennerhassett Hotel to see the presentation on the outdoor facility the Boy Scouts of America is building in Mount Hope in Fayette County.
Mark Lewis, president of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, nicknamed The Summit, will have a major impact on this area and represents a great opportunity for local hotels, businesses and attractions.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Mark Lewis, president of the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, talks about the benefits the new Boy Scout High Adventure Camp at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in southern West Virginia will produce for this area.
"There is a tremendous opportunity here for Parkersburg," Lewis said. "There will literally be hundreds of thousands of Scouts going back and forth to this camp from all over the United States.
"We are going to be a gateway community as people come into West Virginia to go to the reserve."
People will be looking for activities and other things to do as they make their way to the facility and when others start making their way home, Lewis said.
"We are going to be on the way for a lot of those kids and Scout leaders," he said. "What we want to do is be able to give them an experience."
The Boy Scouts is building the high adventure camp, one of only four such facilities nationwide, which will host camping, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, ziplines, shooting sports and other outdoor activities annually on 10,000 acres of land. The site has been designated as the permanent home for the National Scout Jamboree every four years and will be the site for the 2019 World Jamboree, said Gary Hartley, director of community and government relations for the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
The Boy Scouts fielded submissions from 28 states for this facility with the site in West Virginia being selected.
"The Boy Scouts wanted the best of both worlds," Hartley said. "They wanted an area for all of the great things Scouts do, all the great outdoor activities."
They also wanted access to transportation routes, electric and water service.
"They found it all here," Hartley said. "Geographically, this is a great spot."
The facility is within a one day's drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population with access to many of the major U.S. cities in the eastern United States.
The Reserve will have its official opening with the 2013 National Scout Jamboree July 15-24. More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the Jamboree, making the site the third largest city in West Virginia at the time, Hartley said.
The site will attract thousands of people every year for the high adventure base activities with the Boy Scouts marketing the site to many of the co-ed programs it has for boys and girls, he said.
People involved in the design of Disney park attractions and the leaders in mountain biking, ziplines and rock climbing are involved in the design of the facility. Infrastructure improvements have been made, including 100 miles of utilities on site, eight million-gallon water tanks and cell towers.
The builders have used West Virginia materials and workers on a majority of projects at the facility.
Once it is operational, each Scout who comes to the facility will be expected to do a full day of community service, which will have benefits for the surrounding area.
The facility's main purpose is to get young people outside and doing things, Lewis said. It will bring people from across the country and from around the world to West Virginia.
"This signature facility will host hundreds of thousands of Scouts in the next decade and will have a profoundly positive impact on the economy and national reputation of West Virginia," he said. "This is a wonderful thing for West Virginia. We should be very proud they chose us."