Those of us who live in West Virginia know the benefits—beautiful scenery, friendly people, bucolic communities. These and other qualities help keep us content to be here, even as the state faces myriad challenges.
We also know that if we can get others to come here for a visit, they might just like the state as much as we do. Hopefully, they’ll consider returning and, who knows, maybe even relocate here someday if the opportunity presents itself.
So we have some selfish motives for welcoming the 2017 Boy Scouts National Jamboree to the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County near the New River Gorge National River.
40,000 Scouts, Venturers, Explorers, staff and volunteers from all 50 states and 60 different countries have moved into the Reserve for the ten-day long Jamboree. The Scouts will get to enjoy some of the best outdoor adventures the state has to offer, including one of the longest zip line courses in North America (5.5 miles), mountain biking, treetop canopy tours, rock climbing, water sports and more.
Many of the Scouts are also going to give something back to the state while they are here. They’re donating an estimated 100,000 hours of community service work on 220 different projects in 45 of the state’s 55 counties.
These volunteers hope to make their mark on dozens of West Virginia communities, but it’s also likely these towns and their residents will touch the hearts of the campers. The Scouts will get a chance to meet us and hopefully form some lasting bonds.
One of the state’s most famous visitors was John Kennedy. He traveled the Mountain State during his 1960 presidential campaign. He famously returned to Charleston three years later to participate in the state’s Centennial celebration.
It rained that June day, prompting Kennedy to say, “The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do.”
Kennedy identified one of our best features, our good nature and welcoming spirit. We proudly open our home to visitors, help them see what we see in the Mountain State and then invite them back.
With that we welcome the Boy Scouts back to West Virginia. Embrace all that the Summit and our state have to offer. When you are doing your public service you will see firsthand that we have significant challenges, but you will also discover that indelible spirit that makes us Mountaineers.