PRINCE, W.Va. -- More than 300 Boy Scouts, most of them from the relatively cool climes of the Pacific Northwest, took time off from activities Friday at the National Scout Jamboree to spend a steamy day building wheelchair-accessible trails, picnic sites and other amenities deep in the New River Gorge.
"Probably none of you have worked in such high humidity before," Scoutmaster Jeff Person of Richland, Wash., told Scouts in Troop B130, just before work began near the Glade Creek Trailhead. "Remember that we've got all day, so pace yourself -- and drink a lot of water. This is a great thing you're doing, so have fun with it!"
Washington and Oregon Scouts from Troop B130 installed plastic pavers along a trail leading from a parking lot to an information kiosk, a pair of wheelchair-accessible picnic tables and a newly improved footbridge over Glade Creek that accommodates wheelchair-using anglers. After the circular plastic forms were installed and connected, Scouts filled them with hundreds of buckets full of pea-size gravel.
While the temperature was undeniably hot, "It's cool to be able to help out people with disabilities," said Scout Liam Bradley of Camas, Wash., as he sanded newly installed rails on the bridge/fishing site over Glade Creek, a popular trout stream. "To me, it's important that everybody should be able to see places like this in their lifetime."
Also involved in the sanding project was Nick Perry of Amboy, Wash., who has been working on a disabilities-awareness merit badge at the Jamboree.
"It really opened my eyes to the situations a lot of people face," Perry said of his merit badge work. "I'm glad to be doing something that can help."
Among those taking part in a bucket brigade to bring gravel to the 110-foot trail connecting the bridge to the parking area was Scout Taylor Scanlon of Hermiston, Ore. Scanlon, who has cerebral palsy, used his electric wheelchair to haul 5-gallon buckets of gravel to fellow Scouts, who dumped them in the pavers.
"It's been good -- a lot of fun," Scanlon said of his time at the Jamboree. After listening to a presentation by Boy Scout disability officials before the start of work on Friday, Scanlon said he was interested in setting up a website "where people with disabilities can go and review accessible areas."