By Brandi Underwood
The shovels and sunshine were in high supply Wednesday as Scouts spread away from their home base of the Summit to show their appreciation for their host state.
Each troop participating in the Jamboree will dedicate one day of their Jamboree experience to giving back to the local community through participation in various community service projects.
The five-day-long community service event, known as the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative, concludes Monday and Tuesday.
More than 350 community service projects will be completed throughout the nine-county region of southern West Virginia, including Fayette, Greenbrier, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties.
The closest service project, a mere five miles away from the Scouts’ home of the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Fayette County, is taking place at the historic Whipple Company Store in Scarbro.
There, Scouts will work on construction of an amphitheater and a community garden.
Ohio Troop B316 broke ground on the Whipple project at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“Today we’re just doing general clearing of the land,” said Second Assistant Scoutmaster Dann Barczyk.
“We’re helping them clean up and pull weeds. A group over here is digging holes for fence poles so they can put up a fence,” he said.
Barczyk is one of the four Scoutmasters and 36 scouts representing Troop B316 of the Heart of Ohio Council, located outside of Cleveland.
Charles and Joy Lynn, owners of the Whipple Company Store, are serving as the project managers for the endeavor.
The Lynns purchased the Whipple Company Store in 2006. At the time, the 1890 structure was in complete ruin.
The roof had huge portions missing. The exterior was in serious need of a paint job. Pigeons had called squatters’ rights inside.
The Lynns realized the historical necessity of the building’s restoration.
“The building is the last one of its kind,” Joy Lynn explained. “There’s not another one architecturally designed like it in the United States.”
Today, with the help of generous donations from organizations like the United Mine Workers of America, the building has been renovated and restored to echo the splendor of its past.
The modern-day whitewashed and black-trimmed Whipple Company Store now seeks to educate families and youth in Appalachian culture and West Virginia coal mining families.
The Boy Scouts will be relocating the pre-existing amphitheater, as well as cutting out areas to accommodate audience seating, Lynn explained.
They will also be building a white fence around the property, which will retain the integrity of the building’s coal-culture past, as the style of white fencing was a common divider between homes in coal camps.
The amphitheater is primarily used to educate children through local history reenactments.
Area children are invited to participate in educational classes, which are offered twice a month free of charge.
“At the end of each season the children will put on a big history performance,” said Lynn. “They do their costuming and write their script. It’s all West Virginia-related.”
Recently, to celebrate the state’s 150th birthday, a group of children reenacted Governor McClure and Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of the birth of West Virginia.
“We had 221 families here to see it,” Lynn said.
With that kind of crowd, there’s no doubt that the Company Store will greatly benefit from an outdoor makeover.
The Scouts will also be working to build a small decorative arch and raised garden beds on the store property, which will serve as a community garden.
Lynn plans for the community garden to help introduce children to growing foods.
“Some children are not aware of where our food even comes from,” she said. “We’ll be focused on organic growing and we’ll be having classes on how to actually prepare the food.”
Work will continue on the Whipple Company Store service project for the remaining five days of the Initiative, with a new troop working on the site each day.
Seventeen-year-old Scout Joshua Shadle didn’t mind the grueling day of work, though.
“They were so nice to us for letting us have The Summit here, and I think it’s good we’re doing something in return,” said Shadle.