MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. – A Boy Scout band belted out a John Phillip Sousa number as one by one, single file, scouts from across the United States filed into the Summit Center in Fayette County Tuesday, ready to start ten days of adventure.
“This just blows my mind,” said Scout Sam Hauda, 15, of McClean, Va. “I’ve been here a couple of times and I’ve always enjoyed the scenery and wildlife here. I’m a city boy and used to seeing buildings and maybe the occasional deer, out here you just get lost in in all.”
The 40,000 scouts sat with their troops forming a sea of humanity across a wide open hillside to start the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. They were welcomed by National Boy Scout officials and a concert by West Virginia country music performers Taylor Made.
During those ceremonies the scouts were introduced to Steve Bechtel, the benefactor whose family donated money to purchase the 10,600 acres and to West Virginia philanthropist Jim Justice who added his own sizable contribution to make the project a reality.
“It’s goosebumps, it’s breath taking and you never get tired of seeing that,” said Larry Pritchard Chairman of the National Jamboree. “Nobody knew what to expect. When they get there it’s more than they imagined. Smiling faces are pretty cool.”
The opening ceremonies ended and the scouts departed in all directions. None seemed to be heading to the same place, but all were headed there in a hurry.
Scout Gregory Roszyk, 12, of Great Falls, Virginia loves scouting with all his heart. He’s not shy about sharing his experiences.
“Backpacking! We do LOTS of backpacking,” he said of his home troop. “We had baguettes and penne pasta with Ragu..ON A BACKPACKING TRIP! It was tasty.”
Over the course of their nearly two week stay at the Summit, scouts will have opportunities for hiking, shooting, swimming, skateboarding, mountain biking, four-wheeler riding, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and more than five miles of zip lines and canopy tours to enjoy. The list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface.
“I’m looking forward to skateboarding, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do that,” said Hauda. “And I’ve got to tell you, that high powered rifle shooting, I’m just pumped for that.”
“I have a good friend in Western Pennsylvania who texted me because he’d received a text from his son,” said Pritchard. “His son said,’this place is awesome.’”
Armed with a 10,600 acre wifi connection and 40,000 smarthphones and tablets, it won’t be the last text of high praise out of the West Virginia hills for the 2013 National Jamboree.