"I heard about John Henry while watching 'American Heroes and Legends' on television," said Erik Proce of Waukegan, Ill., during a break from clearing brush from a trail site. "It's good to be working on a project that's connected to him."
This year's National Scout Jamboree is the third in which Luke Curry of Lebanon, Ind., has taken part. Community service projects weren't a component of previous jamborees, he said, as he hacked away at an uneven section of trail with a pick.
"But it's a wonderful idea," he said. "It fits into Scouting's idea of giving back. And it's great that we can do it with so many people. We can really make a change."
In Summers County, one of nine West Virginia counties to receive volunteer labor from the 40,000 Scouts attending the Jamboree, 18 projects, ranging from landscaping and beautification work in Hinton to painting a senior citizens center, have been completed.
"We've had more than 2,000 Scouts and AmeriCorps people working here," said Summers County Commissioner Jack David Woodrum. "That's about one-seventh of the population of Summers County working here for five days. At this park, which I see as a tourism-related economic development project, it would have taken us two to five years to get the work done that the Scouts have completed in less than a week."
While no projects organized under the Boy Scouts' Reaching for the Summit Community Service Initiative have been canceled due to electrical storms and heavy rains, some work was suspended early or diverted to an alternative, indoor site.
"For any work that didn't get completed, 250 AmeriCorps members are staying here through July 31 to finish up, with the help of local volunteers," said Aly Goodwin Gregg, a spokeswoman for the program.
In all, Scouts attending the Jamboree donated more than 300,000 hours of community service to 350 projects in Southern West Virginia.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.