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Scouts excited over visit from president

BY DAVE LAVENDER

The Herald-Dispatch

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — On every other day of the 2017 National Jamboree, excitement stemmed from a thousand different adventures on its 14,000-acre preserve and in the rapids of the nearby world-class New River.

The Boy Scout Jamboree Band, which features 75 scouts from 29 states, entertained thousands of Scouts and others as they waited for an evening visit but President Trump at the 2017 Jamboree.
(Photo by Toni Lavender)

On Monday, all of the excitement was saved for the evening hours as the zip line and high adventure areas from ATVs and mountain bikes to skateboarding parks to kayaking lakes were shut down by midday as the crowd of more than 40,000 people staying at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, were funneled through security and into the AT&T open field Summit Stadium to hear the evening speech by U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

Between shouts of “USA,” Trump thanked the thousands of volunteers (more than 13,000 volunteers at Jamboree alone), and parents who make Scouting possible.

“I salute the moms and dads and leaders. Thank you for making Scouting possible,” Trump said. “When you are volunteering, you are not only shaping young lives, but you are shaping the future of America.”

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Logan Lyons and Preston Core from Troop 93 in Morgantown, West Virginia, said they were excited to see the President and to hear all of the good things he had to say about Scouting.

“That was pretty cool that we could get Trump here. It was inspirational when he talked about how we could be a better Scout by working for our community,” Lyons said.

Although Patrick Farrell’s sons, ages 11 and 8, have yet to cross over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, he wanted the two members of Pack 14 out of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Huntington, to get a taste of what is equivalent to the World Series of Scouting just two hours away from Huntington.

“The Summit is obviously world-class and a one-of-a-kind place,” Farrell said while leaving the arena following the event. “It is wonderful to be able to show them something like this that is right here in our state.”

Continuing a long tradition, Trump on Monday became the eighth president to visit the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) National Jamboree. Held every four years, the BSA’s most iconic event brings together tens of thousands of youth and adults from all 50 states and dozens of nations to embrace Scouting’s commitment to adventure, service, conservation, innovation and STEM.

On a hot day, long lines stretched far beyond the main Goodrich Lake and snaked back into some of the 24 different camping areas where Scouts from all 50 states and from 59 different countries have been staying for the Jamboree, which started July 19 and runs through July 28.

Keeping the sweating Scouts’ spirits high as they waited in hours long lines was the Boy Scout Jamboree Band, which featured 75 scouts from 29 states.

That band, under the direction of George Pinchock, had performed 35 times already during the Jamboree, including a four-hour-round trip day trip to Barboursville’s West Virginia Veterans Home last Friday to entertain the veterans there.

Even though, the President’s team opted to use recorded music and not the band, Pinchock said it was still an honor to be able to entertain the troops as they waited for the evening’s festivities at the main stadium.

“All politics aside, it is a great honor for the President to come to the Jamboree and to honor the Boy Scouts thusly,” Pinchock said. “It doesn’t matter if you are red, blue or any other color, it is a great honor for him to be here.”

“Scouting is such a big part of my life and so getting to come here is a pinnacle for me,” Orth said. “For me it has been a lot of first times, like my first time getting to go to Washington, D.C., and now getting to hear the President speak.”

Locally, the Buckskin Council sent 101 youth and 12 adults. From the greater Huntington area, there are 16 youth and two adults in the Buckskin Council contingent. Paul Biser and Pete Shively, both from Troop 96 out of Milton Baptist Church, are the Scoutmasters for the local contingent.

“We have three Boy Scout troops and a Venturing Patrol at the National Jamboree, which is a high percentage for a council our size,” said Jeff Purdy, the scout executive for Buckskin Council. “It shows a high level of interest in our local leaders wanting to utilize the Summit.

“Obviously a sitting President coming to the Jamboree is historic for these Scouts and they will cherish the memories.”

Purdy said the Jamboree, which has drawn in Scouts from all 50 states and 58 countries, is an incredible boon to West Virginia on many levels, and that the state will always be held in a special place for Scouts like his youngest son Tucker, who is at the event now, and his oldest son Tanner who attended in 2013.

“For thousands of Boy Scouts, the National Jamboree is their mountaintop experience, and it is going to be in West Virginia forever.”

This year marks the 80th year since the National Jamboree’s inception in 1937. The event, which has drawn more than 40,000 Scouts, Venturers, Explorers, volunteers and staff, is Scouting’s premiere event where boys and girls ages 12-18 from a variety of Boy Scouts of America programs including Boy Scouts, Venturing, Exploring, Sea Scouts and Varsity Scouts come together to live Scouting’s adventure. International Scouts representing 60 different nations are also in attendance.

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