By Mannix Porterfield
CHARLESTON — An expanse of land hugging both Fayette and Raleigh counties is the lone choice of the national Boy Scouts of America for a year-round camp offering a smorgasbord of high-adventure fun annually to thousands of visitors.
Just where the land is located wasn’t disclosed Thursday, a day after Gov. Joe Manchin announced the potential boon to West Virginia’s tourism industry.
Word from the Division of Natural Resource was that the Scouts and the property owner were negotiating terms of the sale, including the price.
“This looks to be a really big deal for the state of West Virginia and the scouting organization,” said Hoy Murphy, communications director for the DNR.
“West Virginia has a lot of high-adventure areas that would be appealing to the Scouts.”
In mind are such activities as rock climbing, canoeing, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking — recreation well in abundance at the site being eyed by the Scouts.
Boy Scouts of America sifted through some 80 proposals in 28 states before narrowing its choices for the high-adventure camp in Raleigh/Fayette, if the purchase can be worked out.
And the group is planning on a permanent home for its Jamboree near Goshen, Va., about 60 miles east of White Sulphur Springs.
“There is still a lot of work to be done on it yet,” Murphy emphasized.
No one was saying how much property was involved in the preferred parcel or just when details were expected to be hammered out.
“This would be year-round and open to scouting organizations across the country and around the world,” Murphy said.
“There are only three high-adventure camps in the United States.”
Even in the winter months the site likely would be thriving, especially since the location would be near a major skiing business, Winterplace, it was pointed out.
“One of the fun parts of high adventure is winter camping,” Murphy said.
“I was a Scout leader for a few years when my son was in it. We camped every month, no matter what. Even in the snow.”
Jack Furst, chairman of Project Arrow, the name assigned to the high-adventure project, called the idea “a new vision” for the scouting organization.
“In its entirety, the center will offer a new American landmark — a multi-purpose, year-round destination for scouting activities that will become the epicenter for the best that scouting has to offer,” he said.
“It will be a dynamic place where people from all over this country and the world come together to share their common values, partake in America’s best leadership programs and challenge themselves through rigorous outdoor activities.”
Commerce Secretary Kelley Goes voiced gratitude to the group for narrowing its choice to West Virginia and pledged full cooperation to see the high-adventure base become a reality.
“There are opportunities to bring new adventure outlets to Scouts and we look forward to continuing this discussion,” Goss said.
In his State of the State address Wednesday night, Manchin alluded to a phone call with Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive for Boy Scouts of America, about the southern West Virginia choice.
“When completed, this project will draw thousands of Scouts and outdoor enthusiasts — both young and old — from across the nation and around the world for years to come,” the governor said.
“This facility will highlight the best of ‘wild and wonderful West Virginia’ and provide us an unprecedented opportunity to showcase our state’s beauty and heritage.”
Murphy agreed about the potential value to both the state’s tourism industry and Scouts from across the country.
“It’s really a great opportunity to get that many young people in West Virginia just to see what we have,” he said.
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