The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve
|Owner||Boy Scouts of America|
|Location||Mount Hope, West Virginia|
|Founder||Stephen Bechtel, Jr.|
|Summit Group Director||Justin (Dan) McCarthy|
The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve (SBR) located in Mount Hope, West Virginia, near Beckley, is one of four facilities managed by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The Summit is the home of the national Scout jamboree, The Summit High Adventure Base, and the National Center for Scouting Excellence. It is 10,600 acres (43 km2) acres in size. The facility hosted the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.
On November 18, 2009, the BSA announced the selection of The Summit as the location and that the acquisition of this property and its construction was made possible through a donation from the Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. The $50 million donation is the largest in the history of the BSA. On October 22, 2010 the BSA announced that total donations had reached $100 million, including a $25 million donation from the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation. Both Stephen Bechtel and Walter Scott, Jr. are recipients of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA). October 22 is also the day the BSA announced the dates of the 2013 National Jamboree and the day ground was broken at The Summit with 22 golden shovels. The Scott funds will fund the building of the Scott Scouting Valley. Due to a large gift of an undisclosed amount from T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich, the main lake is called Goodrich Lake. Mike Goodrich is also a DESA recipient.
The site for The Summit is located in Fayette and Raleigh counties in southern West Virginia, adjacent to the New River Gorge National River. Managed by the National Park Service (NPS), New River Gorge is a 70,000 acres (280 km2) park that exemplifies the typically rugged Appalachian Mountains, and is a popular whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and tourism destination. It is also the home of the New River Gorge Bridge.
The current goals of construction at the site are developing infrastructure, providing access to the area’s resources for outdoor activities, and preparing for the more than 50,000 anticipated attendees of the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. The Summit is expected to inject $25.3 million into the local economy annually.
Plans for The Summit began in 2007 when BSA leadership began looking for a permanent location for the National Scout Jamboree, which had been held at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia since 1981 as well as seeking another high adventure base for the large number of Scouts who are wait-listed at the other three high adventure camps every year. A committee in charge of site selection and project planning was created. The committee named the new venture Project Arrow, chaired by Jack D. Furst. Plans for Project Arrow grew to include not only a venue for the Jamboree, but also for a summer camp, a high adventure base, and a leadership center, all housed on the same contiguous property.
More than 80 sites in 28 states were visited over an 18-month span and inspected as possible locations for the new venue. The top fifteen sites were visited and in October 2008 the list was cut to three sites: Saline County, Arkansas; Goshen, Rockbridge County, Virginia; and the New River region of West Virginia. In February 2009 Arkansas was cut from the list, leaving Virginia and West Virginia. On August 4, 2009, the BSA announced it was no longer considering the Virginia site as the permanent host of the National Jamboree and was looking into the feasibility of the West Virginia site hosting the National Jamboree as well as the leadership and high adventure programs.
On Wednesday November 18, 2009, the BSA announced that it had chosen the West Virginia site, known locally as the Garden Ground Mountain property, as the future home of The Summit.
One of the deciding factors for Project Arrow in choosing the West Virginia site was its adjacency to New River Gorge National River. More than 13 miles of the property borders the park, giving Scouts and Scouters access to more than 70,000 acres of managed wilderness beyond the Summit property.
The BSA and Project Arrow has partnered with the NPS to create park programs and increased access in anticipation of the new High Adventure Base.
On April 1, 2012, Justin D. (Dan) McCarthy was appointed Summit Group Director. He is responsible for all aspects of the development of the Summit. McCarthy is a retired Vice-Admiral of the U.S. Navy where he served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Logistics. A lifelong Scouter, McCarthy received the Silver Buffalo Award, the BSA's highest volunteer recognition, in May 2012.
The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is in southern West Virginia bordering the New River Gorge National River. Approximately 8,000 acres (32 km2) of the property are in Fayette County, West Virginia. The remaining roughly 2,600 acres (11 km2) are in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The property borders the communities of Glen Jean, McCreery, Thurmond, and Mount Hope. To the south is the city of Beckley, and to the north are the towns of Oak Hill and Fayetteville. To the northwest is the capital city of Charleston.
Transportation networks servicing the area include Interstate 64 from the east and west, Interstate 77 from the south, and Interstate 79 from the north. These interstates are connected by U.S. Route 19, which borders the western side of the property. There are commercial airports at Beckley Airport and Charleston Yeager Airport with daily flights in and out of West Virginia. Also, the Charlotte Douglas Airport and Pittsburgh international airports are both within an estimated 3.5 hour drive from The Summit. Amtrak’s Cardinal connects Chicago to New York via the New River Gorge, with stops within the New River Gorge NRA in Prince station and Thurmond station. Greyhound Lines services Beckley with a bus stop at 3rd & Neville.
The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will become a National Center for Scouting Excellence, which will have four divisions of activity: the National Scout Jamboree, a High Adventure Base, a National Scout Summer Camp, and a future Center for Leadership and Excellence. There are five subcamps, staff and centralized services area, an Order of the Arrow area, a large outdoor arena, mountain bike and cross country mountain bike areas, and a challenge course. Construction and operation of The Summit is in firm line with the BSA's Leave No Trace program.
The Summit property was once the site of extensive coal mining, an industry for which the state of West Virginia is known. The remnants of long abandoned surface mines within the property have created wide flat areas that tier the terrain into a series of benches, effectively pre-grading and excavating the property, and allowing for many of the roads and infrastructure sites on the property to begin construction without extensive earth moving.
Sections of the property contain large flat areas engineered to accommodate regional camp headquarters and sub-camps. The sub-camp farthest from The Summit’s core area is 1.3 miles (2.1 km), with an elevation gain of no more than 300 feet (91 m). Pedestrian pathways reduce walking times from regional camps to the core activity center to 12–15 minutes.
A permanent arena on the far side of the valley seats 6000 to 8000 people, built as a natural extension to the property’s lower bowl amphitheatre section, for a total arena area large enough for 80,000 people during the national Scout jamboree.
A lake at the center of the site’s infrastructure separates regional camps from the arena, action areas, transportation depot, and other traditional core areas.
A valley on the Summit property is crossed by a triple-walkway pedestrian suspension bridge sponsored by CONSOL Energy. The bridge is just shy of 800 feet in length, and was made possible by the $15 million donation of CONSOL. The bridge connects the western and eastern portions of the core areas of the property.
High Adventure Areas constructed on the property include: The Park (Skateboarding), The Trax (BMX), The Pools (Scuba & Swimming), The Cloud (Popular Science & Robotics), The Bows (Archery Sports), The Barrels (Shooting Sports), The Ropes (Challenge Courses in the trees), The Rocks (Climbing Walls), The Zip (Zipline), Low & High Gear (Mountain Bike headquarter locations connecting over 30 miles of downhill and cross country mountain bike trails), The Canopy (Canopy Tours), as well as 'sampler' acitivites available within The Scott Summit Center.
ArcGIS Online supports the Summit's geospatial initiatives (GIS), including deployment of mobile and web applications. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. Example applications that utilize the ArcGIS Platform supported by the Summit include: a Summit 'Story Map', the SBR Web Map utilized for navigation during the 2013 National Jamboree, and a Swipe Map comparing 2011 to 2013 Development.
Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. is the grandson of Warren A. Bechtel, founder of the Bechtel Corporation, the largest engineering company in the United States. He took over as manager of the company in 1960 at the age of 35. He retired from the company in June 1990. He is an Eagle Scout.
The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Stephen Bechtel Fund, both family foundations, provide support to, among other groups, select non-profit organizations that address challenges to the economic welfare of the United States.
Program areas supported by the foundations include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, Environment, Character and Citizenship Development, and Preventative Healthcare and Selected Research.
The Bechtel Foundation donated $50 million to the BSA to help the Arrow Project purchase and develop the land that is now The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.
Other donors include:
- The Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation, donated $25 million for the Scott Scouting Valley.
- Mike and Gillian Goodrich, donated an undisclosed amount.
- CONSOL Energy, donated $15 million for the CONSOL energy Wing Tip Bridge.
- Jim Justice, donated $25 million to fund the James C. Justice National Scout Camp.
- The Ruby Foundation, donated $10 million to fund the J.W. & Hazel Ruby West Virginia Welcome Center.
- Ed and Jeanne Arnold, donated $10 million to fund the Ed & Jeanne Arnold Transportation and Logistics Center.
- Terrence and Peggy Dunn, funded the Dunn Family Adult Leadership Camping Community.
- J. Brett Harvey funded the Harvey Mountain Bike Shop and the Jared Harvey Bike Trails system.
- AT&T provided onsite wi-fi and 4G LTE capabilities across the property and funded the construction of AT&T Summit Stadium.
2013 National Scout Jamboree
Since its inception, the largest construction focus of the Arrow Project was preparing The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve property for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, which was held July 15–24, 2013.
The BSA anticipated attendance at approximately 50,000 Scouts and Scouters (though the final number for participants was 30,037) as well as over 300,000 visitors over the course of 10 days for the event. This effectively doubled the population of Fayette County, West Virginia, the location of The Summit, for the event’s duration. 2013 was the first time the Jamboree took place at The Summit. Subsequent national jamborees will also be held there.
Early announcements from The Summit team at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree, and subsequently on Facebook announced that Venturing would be a part of the Jamboree, not just as staff, but as participants. This would mark the first appearance of Venturing at a Jamboree, and the first attempt to expand the program to include the senior scouting program of the BSA since the attempted inclusion of Exploring in 1989. This has since been confirmed in promotional videos and materials for the event.
Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base
The Summit is the site of the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base which will begin operating in 2014.
BSA national high adventure bases
The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will become the BSA’s seventh consecutive and fourth operating national high adventure base program. The three currently operating programs are the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, the Northern Tier National High Adventure Base in Minnesota, and the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in Florida. Discontinued programs include the Northern Wisconsin National Canoe Base in Wisconsin, Maine National High Adventure in Maine, and the Land Between the Lakes National Outdoor Adventure Center in Kentucky.
With the addition of The Summit as the newest high adventure base, participants will be exposed to programs unique to the New River Gorge region. The region offers white water rafting rated from Class II to Class V along the more than 50 miles of river within the New River Gorge National River area. Other outdoor activities that are popular to the area include Rock climbing, rappelling (abseiling), mountain biking, hiking, geocaching, and orienteering.Some of the additional activities added with help from Scout feedback at the 2010 Jamboree, are skateboarding, freestyle BMX, mountainboarding, ATV riding, paddle boarding, dragon boatsracing, and ziplines. <ref> https://summit.scouting.org/en/Pages/SummitActivities.aspx <ref>
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- Greyhound, Beckley BUS STOP
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.|
- Scouting.org Bechtel Summit page
- SummitCorps: The New River Experience
- The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve's channel on YouTube
||Plum Orchard Lake||Scarbro - Oak Hill -US Rt. 19||New River Gorge National River|
|Mount Hope -Rt. 16||New River Gorge National River|
|Bradley - Rt. 61
|Piney View||New River Gorge National River - WV Rt. 41|