The “wow” factor of West Virginia’s New River Gorge is about to dazzle some special visitors.
With its rushing current and phenomenal sunsets, the gorge is viewed by the Boy Scouts of America as “one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds in the world.” So it’s setting up camp on 10,600 acres on a bend of the New River – for the next 100 years.
The area’s grandeur is helping to attract 40,000 scouts to this summer’s national jamboree. Where miners from 40 company towns once worked coal seams, scouts will now rappel, kayak and hike.
Teaching scouts outdoor and leadership skills is the objective, says BSA’s Gary Hartley.
“Being able to do things such as whitewater rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking were all-important in selecting a site that would serve both as a jamboree site and as a future high- adventure base,” says Hartley, adding that roads and trails created during mining’s heyday meant hundreds of acres could be left undisturbed.
Graham King, a scout from McCandless, Pa., looks forward to zip-lining.
“You get to fly through the camp and see different things that you might not have ’cause you’re so high up,” the 14-year-old gushes. “I get to do things I’ve never done before.”
Folks in nearby towns are thrilled, too. Over five days, 7,000 scouts a day will fan out to perform community service – a first for any jamboree in the organization’s 102-year history.
The Mountain State bested 27 other states in the search for a new jamboree site.