On Oct. 22, just 11 months after announcing plans for The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reservation in the Glen Jean-Mount Hope area, the Boy Scouts of American announced that the reservation is already a contender for the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. It was also announced that the reservation will host the National Scout Jamboree on July 15-24, 2013.
The World Scout Jamboree is the largest regular event organized by the Scouting Movement. It takes place every four years in a different country. The 2011 jamboree will be in Sweden and in 2015 it will be in Japan. It is above all an educational event to promote peace and understanding among young people all over the world.
This new West Virginia facility is being made possible by a $50 million gift from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and several other gifts totaling more than $100 million in less than a year including a $25 million gift from The Suzann and Walter Scott Foundation and a gift from Mike and Gillian Goodrich for an undisclosed amount and several other anonymous donors.
According to officials at the ceremony on Oct. 22, the new Scout reservation will permanently house the BSA's iconic National Scout Jamboree and a new national high-adventure base to complement the three existing national bases in New Mexico, Minnesota and Florida.
BSA leadership, West Virginia officials and the donors officially broke ground on the reservation on Oct. 22 marking the start of Phase 2 of the project. An economic impact survey conducted in August 2009 estimated that Phase 2 will support more than 600 new local jobs and $30 million in additional local income. To date, contracts to local companies for more than $20 million have been awarded for work on the reservation.
"We are celebrating great news for the Boy Scouts of American and great progress for the state of West Virginia," said Gov. Joe Manchin. "The incredible show of support from generous donors speaks volumes about the caliber of the BSA. We are proud to be a part of this team and couldn't be more thrilled about the jobs and interest that are being generated in our local communities and our state and the opportunities for fun and leadership that await millions of young people."
The Boy Scouts of America is the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. The organization is composed of 2.7 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 20, 1.1 million volunteers and nearly 300 local councils throughout the United States and its territories.
Those who read this column regularly are familiar with my writing about scouting activities. In my estimation, it is the premier organization for building leaders of the future and instilling respect for self and others as well as the development of character in our youth today. I was invited, and gladly accepted, an invitation to work with Troop 88 this past summer teaching the communications merit badge. Not only did I learn a lot but it was a privilege and challenge to work with these young people. It's tragic indeed that parents and guardians aren't more interested in the future of their children and help get them involved in this wonderful organization.
Recently I received a letter from Ellen Spears, chairperson of the OnTrac Committee that is working so hard to help improve Elkins' economic situation and its aesthetics, dealing with the importance of emotional attachment residents feel toward their community and its economic growth. Reading the letter was an enlightening experience to say the least. I wish I had the space to quote the entire letter. I don't, of course, so I'll touch on its highlights.
According to the letter, a recent Gallop Poll discovered a significant link between emotional attachment residents feel toward their community. The more emotionally attached residents are to their community the more likely they will stay there and spend their money there. The synergistic relationship between successful downtowns and their host community is powerful. Downtowns play instrumental roles in creating communities in which people choose to live while people living in and near downtowns help sustain an economically vibrant business environment.
Consistently across the country, the Gallop's "Soul of the Community" poll identified three dimensions of community life that most strongly attach people to their community: Openness - how open is the community to new and different groups? Is it a good place to live for a variety of people; social offerings - Is it easy to meet new people? Is there a fun social scene?; and Aesthetics - How are the parks and trails? Does it have an attractive physical setting?
Research, the letter stated, consistently supports the importance of downtowns in attracting residents to their communities. This may be especially true for young, creative people .
As opposed to those wanting to live in large metropolitan areas, those wanting to live in a small town or rural area are looking for ... a more traditional lifestyle focusing on safety, affordability and family. Their top five concerns are scenic beauty, safe streets, affordability, place for family and public schools.
The surveys mentioned in this letter concluded that downtowns are key players in attracting and retaining young people in both small and large communities. Like in large cities, downtowns in small communities must position themselves as the "soul of the community" by understanding and responding to the important emotional dimensions of openness, social offerings and aesthetics.
Discussing pride in one's community is like discussing which came first, "the chicken or the egg." Which comes first in one's community - pride or what it takes to make one proud of his or her community?
In the U.S. Air Force, we took pride in how sharp we looked as a group as we were marched to and from any place we were so directed. The best looking groups were the proudest and took special effort to "straighten out" those of our members who might be detracting from us.
Here in Elkins all of us have the opportunity to create a better place to live and a place to be proud of simply by Making a Difference (getting MAD) about Elkins. I, of course, am not the originator of this phrase but it is one that we can all participate in simply by bending over and picking up a piece of scrap paper lying in street, and for those who smoke, disposing of your cigarette butts properly instead of throwing them onto the ground or into street. In civilian life, we can't "straighten out" those who don't participate but perhaps we can win them over to "our way of thinking" by doing little things that show that we care and that we are proud of our town.