How we plan to grow Scouting's legacy in West Virginia

WHEN WE UNVEILED plans for The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, we spoke of how this project would benefit the entire New River Gorge region.

In July, we’ll again make good on that promise with the Order of the Arrow leading the way. That’s when we’ll launch SummitCorps—The New River Experience. This monthlong project, in partnership with the National Park Service, will assemble some 2,000 Arrowmen, OA staff, and volunteers to build mountain-biking trails on national park land adjacent to The Summit.

Four teams of 500—each working a week during that month—will help build from 25 to 40 miles of several stacked loop-hike and bike-trail systems in the Garden Ground and Craig Branch areas of the New River Gorge National River.

The trail section in the Garden Ground area borders The Summit property, allowing direct access for our Scouts. The Craig Branch area, though farther down the river, will provide a breathtaking view of the New River Gorge.

We’re building these trail systems with varying levels of difficulty—from easy to expert. The designs were developed under the watchful eye of the International Mountain Biking Association to ensure authenticity. And the job will entail rugged work as the trail is laid: moving rock along steep grades, clearing invasive vegetation, and building drainage to prevent erosion.

We also entered into a great partnership with the West Virginia National Guard, which is providing its Glen Jean Armory for staging, camping, and meals. We all remember our similar partnership with the U.S. Forest Service during ArrowCorps5 in 2008, the BSA’s largest national service project since World War II. Launching a large-scale conservation project on the doorstep of our new national Scout reserve is even more special as we enter Scouting’s second century.

The beauty of this endeavor lies not only with the miles of scenic trails that will appear along the New River Gorge mountainside. It also demonstrates our commitment to give back to the region as a grateful neighbor.

This Scouting legacy will be available for all to enjoy.

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