The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 24, 2013

Mining merit badge to launch in 2014

By Steve Keenan
The Fayette Tribune

THE SUMMIT — After years of absence, the Mining in Society merit badge will launch again in February 2014, and count Steve Gardner among those embracing the move.

Gardner, slated to be president of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration in 2015, was among those on hand Monday at the Mining in Society merit badge tent at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

Gardner and others answered questions and explained what will be involved with the new mining merit badge, which will focus on such areas as sustainability, safety, reclamation, geology, exploration, permitting and careers.

Mining “was one of the original Boy Scout merit badges,” Gardner explained. Mining was a merit badge from 1911 to 1937, before it was discontinued and gave way to rocks and minerals then to geology.

Gardner, a consulting engineer who resides in Lexington, Ky.,  is a member of a committee that “started the initiative over 10 years ago to reinstate” the mining in society badge.

Over $200,000 was raised by the SME’s foundation from individuals and businesses toward the effort, Gardner said.

The merit badge and the Scouts being more exposed to the mining industry again may help toward “changing the image” of mining, Gardner said.

“We’re mining-proud,” he added, saying, “We look at everything (mining-related), not just coal.”

The process to have mining reinstated has included contributions from many, including a SME sub-committee that did a lot of the grunt work. “We were at the last Jamboree gauging interest in (the mining merit badge) and had to prove to the Boy Scouts that there was enough interest.”

“I’m excited,” Gardner said. “I wish I’d had the opportunity (for a mining merit badge) when I was a kid.

“I talked to a group of kids from Long Island, N.Y., today, and they were fascinated.”

For more information, visit or

- - -

Jamboree Director Larry Pritchard Monday confirmed the death Saturday of an adult male Jamboree volunteer.

Pritchard said the volunteer, whom he wouldn’t identify due to medical privacy laws, collapsed while walking from his campsite toward the site of the Saturday concert. Despite resuscitation efforts from onsite medical staff and later at Plateau Medical staff, he passed away.

The man’s family has been notified.

“Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Pritchard said.

In a separate incident, he said that a single troop of Scouts from Camp C was under isolation overnight Sunday. An adult leader and several Scouts exhibited symptoms of the flu, Pritchard said, so onsite medical staff held them under isolation at the Jamboree site for a few hours.

“They were cleared and are back in the program today,” Pritchard said.

Camp C in its entirety was never in isolation, Pritchard stressed.

“We’re working very hard with Scouts and leaders here to make sure they stay hydrated,” he added. “We continually remind them to continue to drink.”

- - -

Monday was also Sustainability Day at the Jamboree, and the Sustainability Treehouse at the Summit Center was a busy place.

In the 126-foot high treehouse, Scouts and Venturers and their leaders viewed numerous interactive exhibits that detail collaboration in preparing for a sustainable future. The treehouse is designed to generate as much energy as it uses through an array of photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and geothermal energy, according to a Boy Scouts of America press release.

“The Summit is a statement of Scouting’s long-term commitment to sustainability,” said Dan McCarthy, director of the Summit. “The evidence of that is reflected throughout the site in terms of energy and water conservation, recycling practices, reutilization, dedicated conservation areas, endangered species protection and community engagement.”

— E-mail: