The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scouting Reserve

The Bechtel Family National Scouting Reserve, also known as The Summit, is a 10,600 acre adventure center operated by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the new permanent home of the National Scout Jamboree. Set to open in 2013, the facility will also serve as the location of a summer camp, high-adventure base, and leadership training center.
Map showing the 100-year vision of "The Summit." The Bechtel scout reserve encompasses 10,600 acres of forest between the New River Gorge National River and the US-19 expressway north of Beckley, WV, near Glen Jean.

Boy Scouts Acquire 10k-Acre Site
Adjoining New River Gorge

More than 50,000 boy scouts are expected to visit the reserve annually, according to the BSA, except during Jamboree years, traditionally every fourth year, when an additional 40,000 or more scouts and tens of thousands of guests are expected to visit. Spokespersons for the scouts and economic development agencies have estimated that anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 visitors could visit the reserve through the ten-day Jamboree period.

Already an established outdoor-adventure destination, the BSA first considered the region ideal for its fourth national "high adventure base," to join three it similarly operates in Florida, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Scouts who attend will explore the New River Gorge and its environs while participating in many forms of recreation for which the area is known -- mountain biking, whitewater rafting, cave exploration, rock climbing, and other extreme outdoor sports.

In February 2010, the 4C Economic Development Authority, which is coordinating the reserve's development locally, posted an video presentation by BSA developers Jack Furst and Isaac Manning on YouTube.com. Fuerst stressed during the interview that the BSA expects 50 to 100 thousand boy scouts to visit the site annually, partly as a result of its centralized location in the eastern U.S. near Interstates 77 and 64.
"We believe that when the site is fully developed, given its location, ten-hours away from 70 percent of our consituency, that this will become a high utilization site," Fuerst said. "And it's our hope and dream that we'll serve somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand kids a summer."

According to Furst, the reserve's location on Garden Ground Mountain, adjacent to the New River Gorge National River, in essence provides the Boy Scouts access to more than 100,000 acres of recreation area.

"The park service has been phenonomal to work with, and it's one of the reason's we're here in West Virginia," Furst said.

Manning agreed, stressing the ability of the national parkland to provide recreation opportunity not otherwise available at similar Boy Scout adventure areas.

"One of the things we were looking for when we were going through the site selection process was a site that would give us things we don't have in the system right now," Manning explained.

"In the New River Gorge National River, they have Class III, IV, and V whitewater. They have some of the world's greatest technical climbing on the Endless Wall here that climbers from all over the world come to climb."

"So the availablility on this site to do anything you can imagine outdoors (from caving to climbing to whitewater rafiting to mountain biking to just regular hiking and backpacking) -- this site affords us the luxury of having 100 thousand acres at our disposal to provide a program on the East Coast similar to what we do in our three other national high adventure bases"


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