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Area Scouts ready for their 'backyard' Jamboree adventure

Kenny Kemp
Area Boy Scout Davis Giles shows off the gear he's taking to the National Boy Scout Jamboree at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette and Raleigh counties starting July 15.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's Boy Scouts of America Buckskin Council has been preparing for the upcoming National Jamboree for more than two years.

The Jamboree will attract about 38,000 Scouts and volunteers to The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, a 10,000-acre adventure world stretching across Fayette and Raleigh counties. From equipment lists to a "shakedown" camp out, local Scouts and leaders are ready for adventure at The Summit.

Jeffrey Purdy of the Buckskin Council said the council devoted an entire committee just to planning the Jamboree trip. The Buckskin Council has 170 youth and adult leaders from 23 counties coming together to attend this month's event, scheduled to run from July 15-24.

Local Scouts will begin their Jamboree experience with a trip to Washington, D.C., before returning to The Summit.

"Almost all the other troops coming to the Jamboree from across the country include a touring segment where the Scouts get to know each other prior to arriving at The Summit," Purdy said. "We didn't want our scouts to have anything less."

Troop leaders discussed what to pack, hygiene and how to travel with a group of Boy Scouts. The council will take four tour buses to the nation's capital for two days, where they will stay at a local hostel to keep overall expenses down.

One of the main preparations for the event was a "shakedown," where Scouts from different troops came together for the first time to camp. Scouts participated in team-building and training exercises.

Leaders divided the Scouts into patrols of six to eight people. One of the team-building events featured wooden boxes of varying sizes requiring each patrol to work together and have each patrol member on the box.

"You watch them interact and see who is taking the leadership role and who is following instructions well," Purdy said. "Every good troop has good leaders and good followers."

The Summit will be Davis Giles' first Jamboree. He's looking forward to trying rock climbing, mountain biking and shooting.

He purchased several new items just for the Jamboree. He has a solar-powered phone charger, a new LED light that pops up, condensed towels that dry quickly and a solar shower pack to provide warm water for showers.

"I think a lot of kids either over-pack or under-pack when they first go camping," Giles said. "By the time you've gotten to where I am, you'll usually have a good idea of what all you should take clothing-wise, equipment-wise and what works for you."

Purdy said technology has changed packing, as well.

"Something as simple as underwear, with three pair of the microfiber underwear, you can wash them out and, overnight, they dry on your tent," he said. "In the old days, you had cotton underwear, and you pretty much had to have a pair for every day."

The council also stresses fitness to their troops. Once they arrive at The Summit, the council will set up its campsite, assembling tents and cookware. The activities are scattered across the reserve, where Scouts might have to travel up to 90 minutes to get to activities.

"They need two good hiking shoes, there's no public transportation system at a Jamboree," Purdy said. "They need to be fit and healthy to get the most out of their Jamboree."

Isaac Abdulla, 13, also will attend his first Jamboree. He believes his outdoor skills will come in handy. Now he's just focused on packing the essentials, like toiletries and cookware.

He is most looking forward to meeting people from different places. Abdulla also is thinking about starting to wake up a bit earlier so he can get into a routine.

"We're taking twice as many kids to this National Jamboree as we did [last time]," Purdy said. "That has to be largely in part because it's in our backyard."

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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