Welcome to the Boy Scouts $400,000,000 Mecca to Adventure

“If you build it they will come”… especially if you sock $400 million into the project and add 5 miles of zip-lines through the trees.

Did we mention the skate park, BMX track, and mountain-boarding, too?

A literal mecca to adventure sports is being built in the woods of West Virginia. It’s called The Summit, and this 15,000-acre adventure wonderland, financed with the above-mentioned millions of dollars, will be “the largest project in the history of Scouting” when it’s completed this month.

The Summit site was announced in 2011 in the media, and planning stretches back a few years before that. Construction has been full time since, and this month it debuts to the world, on July 15th, at the annual National Scout Jamboree.

climber scout.jpg


Mountain boarding, rock climbing, and BMX tracks among Summit activities

Tens of thousands of Scouts will descend upon the site to camp, climb, whitewater raft, and gather as the finishing touches are put on the property this month.

(See more images of the Summit and a breakdown on the adventure activities on page 2 of this post)

The Summit is named after a mountain on the property overlooking the New River Gorge. Immense cliffs line the valley, which drops off to fast-flowing whitewater thousands of feet below.

Site of the Summit: The New River Gorge

It’s a natural wonder and the kind of site Scouts and anyone into the outdoors dreams of spending a week exploring. But don’t think the experience is all hiking trails and merit badges. Though traditional Scouting themes will be present, the Summit aims to be a new and different kind of experience.

I talked with Jack Furst and John Stewart, project leaders for the Summit site. Both stressed the Summit was built for a new generation of Boy Scout, one who is “connected 24/7, phone in hand,” as Stewart put it.

zip line image.jpg

The Summit includes 15 zip-line routes to equal more than 5 miles of cable strung through the woods

“You invite these kids camping and tell them they need to leave their phones behind… you’re going to lose that kid and never get them outdoors,” Stewart said.

Instead, the Summit — official name: the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve — has more than 400 wifi hot spots amongst its trees. Hiking trails and camp fires will be present, but so will the action sports like BMX, skateboarding, zip-lining, and freeride mountain biking.

Said Jack Furst, the man charged with overseeing the development and programming at the Summit: “Our customer is a 14- to 21-year-old youth. They are interested in hanging upside down on zip lines going 60mph with their hair on fire… while texting.”

Furst is exaggerating. But he stresses being “relevant and cool” was a No. 1 priority when the Summit was being designed. “The Summit is defined by varying levels of adrenaline rush,” Furst said. “It’s also about technology and sustainability.”

2013 Jamboree to introduce tens of thousands of Scouts to the Summit site

The Summit will host the National Jamboree every four years, the first of which is this month, July 15 – 24.

It also joins three major Scouting camps around the U.S. as a new “high adventure base” that Scouts will travel to year-round for activities.

See page 2 of this post for more images and a run-down on the Summit’s impressive amenities to adventure. Makes me want to be of age to join the Scouts again!

—Stephen Regenold

Posted by Mike - 07/02/2013 10:10 AM

This is awesome

Posted by Bill Wilcox - 07/02/2013 01:30 PM

“The Summit”. . .Now this is what Scouting and Vneturing is all about! Every youth in the Nation should view this and, also hove the opportunity to attend an adventure at “The Summit”.

Posted by Ida Lively - 07/03/2013 09:06 AM

Stephen –

There’s the “Hometown News” section — Youth send reports to their hometown papers. :)

And, the BSA is always accepting Adult Volunteers! Go on to https://beascout.scouting.org/ and click on the ADULT VOLUNTEERS section.

I report for my duty (one of the merit badges) on July 11th. Looking forward to it!

Posted by Ethan - 07/06/2013 11:06 PM

One thing to think about…this massive influx of people and money is seriously hurting the local adventure industry. I work as a rafting guide on the new river, and the low estimates are 5-10 times as much crowding on the (already crowded) river and a similar amount of traffic on the (already way overloaded) put-in/takeout infrastructure on the river. In short, the roads can’t handle all this travel, and it’s something that wasn’t considered before putting this in. It’s bringing a lot of business to the area, but not the type that locals want…it’s actually putting a lot of local small businesses out of business as they’re moving in chains, etc. As cool as this looks, there’s more than meets the eye.

Posted by Jim - 07/11/2013 11:59 AM

It’s too bad homosexuals don’t like these types of activities. Oh wait. I guess that doesn’t matter. The Boy Scouts still live in the dark ages and don’t allow that “type” to join their private little sect. I’m ashamed to have been one growing up.

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