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Boy Scouts make their way to West Virginia for the official start of the 2017 National Jamboree


The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Over 600 buses filled with approximately 27,450 Boy Scouts and leaders will be arriving at the Hazel and J&W Ruby Welcome Center near Mount Hope today to kick-start their adventure into the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR) in Glen Jean.

Larry Abbot, aide for director Boy Scouts of America, left, and Jeff Hermann, aide to chief scout director, look for the Gateway Village at Summit Bechtel Reserve Center for the 2917 National Jamboree.
(Photo by Rick Barbero)

The Boy Scouts will be provided with an array of opportunities throughout the Jamboree to take part in activities based upon their interests throughout the 10 days they will be on the site.

The majority of the Jamboree is volunteer-led with an estimated number of 6,500 people, who have taken two weeks vacation from their civilian jobs to come to West Virginia and participate in Jamboree activities.

Daniel Bell, Marketing and Sales Specialist at SBR has been working on the grounds over the past couple of months to train volunteers for the Jamboree. “The Boy Scouts wanted a more permanent home for their Jamboree,” he said. “And what better place than right here to give them all the high adventure activities they desire.”

Bell said The Big Zip at SBR is one of the most exciting pieces on site. “It’s one of the things a lot of them will want to experience first, and it’s a great way for them to kick-off their experience here at the Summit.”

Volunteers took their shot on The Big Zip during Tuesday’s media day in preparation for guiding the Scouts.

“It’s important we train them so they can provide that same safety to the scouts as well,” Bell said.

Riders can reach speeds of up to 65 MPH as they soar on one of the longest zip line courses in North America.

The Big Zip isn’t the only excitement Scouts will experience throughout their time at the Summit.

From rock climbing, archery, mountain biking, BMX riding and skateboarding to water sports and ATV experiences, the Scouts will get their taste of high-adventure as they explore the 11,400 acres that comprise SBR.

“Adventure is just one of the core pillars of the 2017 Jamboree,” Bell said. “We will also work on service, STEM and conservation.”

He said other activities throughout the week will be led involving each pillar, allowing for all interests of the Boy Scouts to be covered.

Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, leads the way for Scouts during their time at the Jamboree, and said attendees are expected to contribute more than 100,000 hours of community service throughout the state. Between 3, 000 to 4,000 Scouts will go off-site each day to take part in community service activities.

“Throughout their days here, Scouts will do their best to further conservation efforts to make their experience more sustainable, but also make a commitment to using those practices once they go back home,” Surbaugh said.

Scouts will be working on sustainability pillars through their time at SBR involving energy, water, materials, economy and habitat conservation.

“This is where it all comes together,” Surbaugh said. “The Scouts will learn the important meaning of community service and sustainability, but have fun while doing it and working with others.”

He said it is all about providing experience to kids. “Kids from Alaska will get to meet kids from Alabama, and kids from New Mexico will get to meet kids from New York. They’ll get to realize we are all one group and all stand together. They all just get to be kids all day long.”

“These kids will get to see thousands of tents go up around them once they arrive and they’re going to realize they are a part of something big, they are a part of something important,” Surbaugh said.

While using “#2017Jambo” on social media outlets to put a stamp on their journeys throughout the week, Scouts will get the chance to keep their family and loved ones up to date by posting to social media with the help of AT&T, the official service provider of the 2017 Jamboree.

Paul Bodford, AT&T Mid-Atlantic network director, said it is all about staying connected and sharing. “We understand the value of this event and the impact it can have on the scouts lives.”

AT&T will be the service the Scouts will use during their stay, for both phones and WiFi. “If you think about a Scout and what he’s doing while he’s here, and see what they’re doing in their daily lives, there is always a lot of excitement, and we want to help them enjoy that excitement with everyone they care about,” Bodford said.

AT&T has also provided the Scouts and leaders with “2017 National Scout Jamboree,” the official app for the event.

Bodford said the app will allow Scouts and their leaders to keep track of their troops throughout the event and also provide a complete list of activities, event schedules, wait times, interactive maps and real-time notifications.

Sgt. Major Mary Ricks, a title 10 soldier of active duty in the Army is just one of many military officials at SBR for the Jamboree.

Ricks and many others have been working on Freedom Trail and Field at SBR to provide exhibits for the Scouts to educate them on all the different branches of service and equipment involved.

“We want them to know what all is out there, and bring in some history with it as well,” Ricks said while soldiers were putting finishing touches on the exhibits for the Scouts’ arrival.

Ricks said the miniature C130 aircraft is one exhibit they believe to be very popular with the Scouts. “They love seeing this and it’s really fun for them to learn more about it. All of the military members have been working on the exhibits for two years, and we’re proud to be a part of this event.”

Surbaugh said each jamboree gets more exciting and more efficient every time. “We are excited for their arrival, and everyone involved will really put their mark on it.”

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