The Boy Scouts of America and the state of West Virginia are like peas and carrots. We're a perfect fit -- an organization that builds character, inspires reverence and promotes old-fashioned family values and a state that lives them.
That's why I am so proud that this week we are beginning a new partnership with the Boy Scouts 2013 National Jamboree taking place for the first time in its new permanent home in the beautiful New River Gorge region of West Virginia.
More than 30,000 Scouts and Scout leaders are arriving from all across America this weekend for a 10-day adventure of a lifetime at the Jamboree's new 10,600-acre home -- The Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve.
And when all the rafting, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, zip lining and all the other Jamboree activities are over, most of them are going to feel like the most exciting time of their life was this summer in West Virginia.
They also will be profoundly different people, even if they don't realize it, because no activity molds character, instills ideals and strengthens patriotism the way Scouting does.
Scouting changed my life. It challenged me. It strengthened me. It taught me responsibility. It gave me new friends. It made me the person I am today.
One of the highlights of my life was as a Boy Scout attending Camp Mountaineer in Morgantown. It was very rustic -- we even had to do our own cooking, which I was never too good at, especially on an open campfire.
But every summer at Camp Mountaineer, you caught up with old friends, you made new ones, you learned important skills and, of course, you had so much fun every day that you had no trouble falling asleep each night.
I still remember the snipe hunts. I never caught one, but I still believe in them.
Memories of Camp Mountaineer came flooding back to me in 2007 when, as governor, I learned that the Boy Scouts were looking for a new home for their National Jamboree for the next decade.
I knew the perfect home for them was West Virginia.
We were a state of breathtaking beauty, world-class adventure and unbridled discovery, a state that believed in the same ideals and principles as the Boy Scouts, a state that would take great pride in being an important part of the Scouts' second century.
All I had to do was to convince the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. All I had to do was let them know what I already knew -- the ideal place for them was West Virginia.
Some doubted we could do it. They believed that West Virginia would always be the bridesmaid, never the bride. But I came to the Governor's Office with the attitude that West Virginia would not take a back seat to any state.
I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I knew it would take a team effort. So I assembled government officials, business leaders and private volunteers into what I called the West Virginia Project Arrow Task Force.