MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia officials and the Boy Scouts of America are preparing for the group's 2013 National Jamboree in Southern West Virginia.
The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will host the 10-day summer event that is expected to draw some 40,000 scouts and thousands of tourists. The reserve in Fayette County between Glen Jean, Prince and Mount Hope will take advantage of the New River Gorge National River and the area's recreational opportunities, including whitewater rafting, mountain biking and rock climbing.
In preparation for the event, about 2,200 scouts and staff are joining with West Virginia officials this weekend to conduct a five-day exercise to ensure that operations will run smoothly. Those involved include the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the West Virginia National Guard, and other state and local agencies.
The event run-through will focus on food distribution, transportation, and jamboree activities. They'll even figure out how long it takes to load a bus or hike to the top of the mountain.
Organizers say the exercise will help prepare for the event and ensure the safety of those at the Jamboree and in the community.
"Hosting more than 40,000 people on site and many thousands of visitors in this area of West Virginia for next year's national Scout jamboree will be no small feat,'' Jimmy Gianato, director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a statement. "By collaborating now, we will be able to effectively support the Boy Scouts of America and the magnitude of the jamboree.''
Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca said the event is a perfect example of the group's motto: Be Prepared.
"A great deal of work has gone into the creation of the Summit,'' Mazzuca said. "We want to make sure that this magnificent site and our organization are both properly equipped for next year.''
Last summer, the Boy Scouts of America celebrated their 100th anniversary with their national jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The group had held the event at the Army base every four years since 1981. It skipped a year so the event could mark its 100th anniversary. The Boy Scouts have hosted the gathering since 1937.
The 2005 event was marred by tragedy when four Boy Scout leaders were fatally electrocuted when the center pole of a large tent they were erecting touched overhead electrical lines. The deaths also were followed by days of intense heat that sickened more than 300 Scouts and visitors.