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Belgian scouts visiting Elkins

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson About 400 scouts from Belgium enjoy a picnic dinner Sunday evening at Elkins City Park. The scouts stayed the weekend at Davis & Elkins College, while about 400 more stayed at Camp Pioneer in Beverly.

ELKINS — Before more than 800 Belgian scouts make their way to the 24th World Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, they’ve gathered in pre-camps at Davis & Elkins College and Camp Pioneer.

Various Randolph County organizations have worked together to provide the scouts with housing and activities to round out their experience in the area.

The scouts, all in their teens, and their adult volunteer leaders, arrived in Elkins Friday and will depart today.

Plans for the pre-camp began more than a year ago when Davis & Elkins College Professor of Nursing Dr. Denice Reese learned of the scouts’ needs for a brief stay before continuing their trek to the Jamboree.

Since then, D&E Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Goddard has worked with Head of Belgian Contingent Jasper Hulsmans and local community members to secure accommodations and ensure a pleasurable visit.

Because the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins is hosting its summer sessions with hundreds of participants and instructors staying on campus, the College had room to house only about half of the scout troop.

“That is how Camp Pioneer came into play,” Goddard said. “One of our alumni, Phil Tomblyn, is a board member at Camp Pioneer and he was able to set the plan in motion to house some of the scouts there.”

At D&E, approximately 400 scouts stayed in Moyer Hall and Presidential Center residence halls and The McDonnell Center, all equipped with air conditioning, wi-fi and other amenities.

Another group of approximately 400 Belgian scouts are staying at Camp Pioneer’s Dakan Arena in Beverly.

Both D&E and Camp Pioneer hosted special events for the scouts with support from Randolph County organizations.

On Sunday, the scouts staying at D&E will be treated to a picnic in Elkins City Park, complete with traditional American fare including hot dogs and s’mores.

Local scouts offered games and Elkins Mayor Van Broughton presented the scouts with a key to the city.

The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College hosted a square dance for the scouts at The Arts Center.

Support was provided by the city of Elkins, the Rotary Club of Elkins and Dr. Scott Harris.

“I’m very pleased with how all this came together with community participation,” Goddard said. “The region is known for its hospitality and this visit with the Belgian Scouts and their leaders is a prime example of how the people in this area welcome guests.”

The scouts staying at Camp Pioneer had the opportunity to experience a bluegrass concert on Sunday evening.

The Elkins Lions Club prepared chicken for an evening picnic and Mountaineer Insurance donated bottled water.

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