Although the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve won’t open until 2013, it is already drawing Scouts to West Virginia’s New River Gorge. But they aren’t coming to enjoy our challenging mountain-bike trails, world-class shooting ranges, or quarter-mile-long zip lines, attractions that are still under construction. Instead, they’re coming to serve.
In 2011, Venturers from Pennsylvania came to help the New River Alliance of Climbers replace aging hardware on popular climbing routes. Members of two North Carolina crews came to restore native plants such as switchgrass alongside a Gauley River boat ramp. And Boy Scouts from nearby Fayetteville came to support recycling efforts at Bridge Day, an annual adventure-sports extravaganza.
The largest single effort, SummitCorps 2011, brought 1,404 Order of the Arrow members to the area. Over four consecutive weeks, the Arrowmen spent 78,544 cumulative hours removing invasive species and building a public hike and bike trail at the New River Gorge National River, a National Park Service property next to the Summit. In recognition of the Scouts’ Good Turn, the National Park Service named the new trail the Arrowhead Hike and Bike Trail.
Scouts who participated in SummitCorps and other projects also had the chance to experience adventure activities like those the Summit itself will soon offer. After conquering one of the trails he helped restore, a Pennsylvania Venturer said, “My favorite part is probably the sense of accomplishment at the end.”
While he was talking about a long, satisfying hike, he could just as easily have been talking about a long, satisfying day of service.
Going Above and Beyond
How do you top four weeks of trail building? SummitCorps participants also:
- Donated 4,200 nonperishable meals to two local feeding programs
- Donated 5,600 pounds of food to the Pine Haven Homeless Shelter in West Virginia
- Collected more than $1,000 in two hours to pay a 911 dispatcher’s medical bills
- Raised $15,358 in a patch auction to benefit area programs that serve women, children, and endangered wild birds, including Brian’s Safehouse, Mt. Hope Children’s Health Council, Three Rivers Avian Center, and the Women’s Resource Center