MOUNT HOPE —
The traditional depiction of summer camp is elevated to an entirely different level when the Boy Scouts of America is involved.
Bug spray, sunscreen and hiking boots are still standard necessities, but Scouts who embark on a week-long camp expedition at The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve’s Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base this summer will experience much more than a swimming pool and mess hall.
With the next Jamboree event still more than three years away, the Christen High Adventure Base will roll out in Summer 2014 and continue the established trend of bringing Scouts from far and wide to enjoy southern West Virginia’s rugged outdoor sports.
On top of that, the Summit is currently looking for seasonal staff members to help man the high adventure base and its nine Summit adventure sports venues: The Rocks (rock climbing), The Ropes (challenge course), The Canopy (canopy tours), The Trax (BMX), The Bows (archery), The Barrels (firearms shooting), The Park (skateboarding), Low Gear (mountain biking) and Bravo Lake (kayaking).
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The Summit’s Christen High Adventure Base ranks among three other national high adventure Scout properties, including Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Sea Base in the Florida Keys and Northern Tier in northern Minnesota.
Starting in June, the BSA plans to run an estimated 5,000 Scouts through The Summit’s high adventure base over a 10-week period. The BSA hopes to see that number grow to 50,000 in future summers, but Christen High Adventure Base Director Dave Kopsa said the inaugural year of the high adventure base is being launched on a smaller scale.
Within the Boy Scouts, high adventure programming is designed to be exciting, challenging camping outings for ages 13 years and up.
For 10 weeks straight, Scouts will roll into Fayette County on Sundays and leave on Saturdays. In addition to coming in the shape of councils and units, Scouts will also have the option to attend the high adventure base as individuals and be joined with “provisional crews” upon their arrival.
“An individual Scout will have the option to sign up during four different weeks we have set aside,” Kopsa said. “We’ll form them into groups of other provisional Scouts and we’ll have our staff members as the adult leaders for those experiences.”
Scouts will participate in a week-long program including an arrival and departure day and five days of activities, Kopsa said.
Scouts will have their choice of four intermediate adventure programs — “The River,” “Helmets & Harnesses,” “The Marksman” and “Wheels” — designed to give Scouts the option to focus on a particular action sport category.
“Wheels” will include wheeled sports such as BMX, skateboarding and mountain biking; “The Marksman” will allow Scouts to fine-tune their aim on the shooting and archery ranges; “Helmets & Harnesses” will focus on the aerial sports of rock climbing, ziplining, canopy tours and challenge courses; and “The River” will boasts aquatic activities of rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
While three days will be occupied by the Scout’s core programming, such as “The River” program, the remaining two days will be set aside for Scouts to choose three elective activities, which can allow them to explore a sport outside of their selected programming.
Scouts looking to experience the whole enchilada, which consists of a half-day at all nine of The Summit adventure sports venues, can opt for “The Summit Experience,” Kopsa said.
“We like to think that ‘The Summit Experience’ is more of a beginner experience,” Kopsa said. “The idea is for the kids to hopefully have fun and find the activity that they’re really into, and then maybe come back and do one of the four intermediate programs.”
On top of that, all Scouts will have the opportunity to fly down the 3,100-foot Big Zip zipline, and will also be required to perform a conservation/service project, Kopsa said.
“Some service projects will be completed on the Summit site, and others will be performed out in the community, either with the National Park Service or other places,” Kopsa said. “It won’t be nearly as extensive as the (Jamboree’s) day of service. It will be a much smaller impact.”