For Scouts, a wild, wonderful wingding awaits
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Arriving Wednesday at Charleston's Yeager Airport, Scoutmaster Andy Clark said he shares the same nervous excitement as many Boy Scouts heading to West Virginia.
Clark, of Sugarland, Texas, has never attended a National Boy Scout Jamboree before, but he has been picked to lead a group of Venturing Scouts, made up of girls, young women and international Scouts.
This week, they will join more than 38,000 Scouts and volunteers at the new Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, a 10,000-acre adventure world stretching across Fayette and Raleigh counties.
"There's no question about it," Clark said. "I'm excited to have our own facility."
The Jamboree had been held at Fort A.P. Hill, near the town of Bowling Green in Caroline County, Va., for the past 30 years. The site in West Virginia will be the Jamboree's new permanent home.
The new facility gives scoutmasters freedom to do many activities previously unavailable to them, like whitewater rafting, said Bob Ousler, extreme sports director for the event.
"They will get to do everything. You name it," said Ousler, who also flew into Yeager Airport Wednesday afternoon. "Zip-lining, seven different BMX courses, scuba diving and shooting sports."
Ousler, of Aurora, Colo., has been to four Jamborees but said he is most looking forward to this one.
"It will be amazing to be on our property and be the first on the ground for this," he said.
Clark and Ousler will oversee a group of international Scouts from Russia, Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom. This also is the first Jamboree to permit female scouts, which they will help lead.
It's a nice change, Clark and Ousler said. The Venturing program was started in 1998 and many of its activities involve physical challenges and travel, making it especially attractive to older teens.
Brett Skogman of San Antonio, Texas, waited by the baggage pickup before boarding a charter bus to the Jamboree.
"I'm most excited about whitewater rafting," Skogman said.
Skogman said he's heard a lot about West Virginia's challenging landscape and is anxious to try it out for himself.
Matthew Koch, a staff member from Lake Bluff, Ill., said he heard that a Scout would be attending from Egypt. "I really hope to meet him," Koch said.
Officials expect more than 100,000 visitors to the area during the 10-day Jamboree from July 15 to July 24.
Reach Travis Crum at email@example.com or 304-348-5163.