The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

June 23, 2014

Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve open for limited access this summer

FAYETTEVILLE — The adventure-filled expanse resting beyond the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve’s guarded gates still remains elusive to most, but the Boys Scouts of America announced that a portion of the 10,600-acre facility will now be open to the public on select days this summer.   

Members of the Scouting community from far and near can now gain a coveted glimpse into the vast offerings of the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve on select Fridays and Saturdays with the purchase of a Summit Center Visitor Pass or Summit Center Action Pass.

 From those looking to partake in high-adrenaline activities like mountain biking to those just wanting to take in the Summit’s sights on foot, both passes grant holders access to the 100-acre area dubbed “Summit Center.”

Within that area, those with either pass are free to explore the Sustainability Treehouse, an interactive five-story structure, the Scott Visitors Center, the John Gottschalk Boardwalk and Goodrich Lake Wetlands, the CONSOL Energy Bridge and the Action Point Hiking Trail, a scenic forest path that provides close-up views of several action sports.

Additionally, those looking to participate in more of the sport activities are encouraged to purchase the Action Pass. Holders are granted access to: the Summit Center zip lines; the skateboarding, BMX, mountain biking, duck shooting, archery, canopy tours and a challenge course offerings at Action Point; and the climbing, rappelling and bouldering activities at Boulder Cove.

Gary Hartley, director of community and government relations for the Summit, said that the idea to open the Summit up to the general public resulted from the BSA’s desire to let more members of the extended Scouting community experience the new facility.

“The BSA is a large organization and we were consistently having Scout members that wanted to come and see the camp, and naturally when they got here they wanted to do some of the action sports,” said Hartley.

During the 2013 Jamboree, BSA allowed visitors to purchase tickets to access Summit Center, the camp’s primary hub, and get an overall feel for the new Summit facility, Hartley said.  

“Since that was successful during the Jamboree, we thought we would offer it again this summer on a limited basis for our Scouting friends and family,” said Hartley. “Now that we’re actually working the summer camp, there’s staff on site and we have the opportunity now to open the facilities up for people coming on Fridays and Saturdays.”

Hartley explained that a visitor pass doesn’t allow holders access to everything on the 10,600-acre property, but it does include a sampling of activities that characterize the facility’s high-adventure programming.

For instance, visitors can take a stroll across the CONSOL Energy Wing Tip Bridge, a 700-foot-long, two-level pedestrian suspension bridge that spans one of the property’s deep valleys, “but they cannot enter the Scout camps on the other side,” said Hartley.

The visitor pass program launched on June 13 and will continue through Aug. 16, Hartley said.

Both daily and weekend passes are available, with daily “Action” passes ranging in price from $35 for ages 6 to 10 and $55 for adults and children age 11+. Daily “Visitor” passes are free for children 5 and under and $25 for all other ages.

Hartley encourages all people who are involved with Scouting, family members of Scouts and anyone considering joining Scouting to attend a Summit visitor’s day this summer.

However, Hartley also emphasized that the BSA does not intend to open the Summit to the public in the long run, but is rather doing so now in order to expose interested members of the Scouting community to the BSA’s newest facility.

“The Summit was built primarily as a permanent home for the National Jamboree and as a high-adventure base for Scouts, and we will remain true to our mission for serving Scouts,” said Hartley.

The BSA is encouraging people to purchase passes in advance online, but day-of ticket sales are available on site. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.summitbsa.org/events/summit-visitor-pass/.

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com

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