Zip lining, fishing, rock climbing, skateboarding, mountain biking — all this and more was offered at Saturday’s Community Appreciation Day at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean.
It was without a doubt a day of adventure for all those who attended.
Kenn Miller, the director of programs and operations at the Summit, told The Register-Herald he was expecting anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 people at Saturday’s event. With the warm temperatures, sunshine, and nearly 10,000 acres of land to play on, he said it was surely an exciting day.
If off-road adventures weren’t really your style, the day also offered inflatables for children to play on, lunch, and games of corn-hole for folks to take part in.
Andy and Amanda Worthington, of Oak Hill, were some of the first in the gates Saturday, and their 8 year-old daughter Abbie went straight for the zip lines.
“I was shaking a little because I was nervous and it was fast, but it was so much fun,” Abbie shared.
Both Andy and Amanda said the event was a great way to bring community together and show what resources are available in West Virginia.
“We’ve also never been out here before,” Andy said. “We were so surprised at how big it is. It’s really fascinating.”
The Worthington family also felt it worthwhile to attend because the event benefited veterans.
The Summit was asking for voluntary donations of $10 per car for parking, to be donated to the Gold Star Family Veterans fund.
Rachel Kittle, of Beckley, also attended with her 5 year-old daughter Hadley, who sat enjoying the live bluegrass music being performed in the background. Hadley said she, too, was most excited to try the zip lines.
“I’m not scared at all,” she said, smiling.
Kittle said she enjoyed the opportunity to bring her daughter to the Summit because her and several other locals have always wondered what all it offered.
“It’s usually closed off, so there were a lot of questions,” Kittle said. “But being here, and seeing how big it is and what all it has, it’s just amazing.
“It’s especially nice to enjoy days like today doing something like this.”
Alec Kaeppner, a graduate student at Marshall University, is currently at the Summit for the summer, working an internship. In the process of getting his master’s degree in science and environmental science, he’s serving as the assistant conservation and service director this season at the Summit.
Kaeppner is one of the nearly 250 seasonal staff members working at the Summit, and he said Community Appreciation Day is all about welcoming in the community and allowing them to realize they are a part of them.
“Without the community, we would not be here today and we wouldn’t be able to have all of this,” he said. “The community always has a place here and they’re always welcome. We want them to know that, and we just hope they’re really enjoying their time here.”
The Summit is typically closed to the public, so the Community Appreciation Day was definitely something special, Kaeppner said.
“During those days we’re closed to the public, we’re working with the Scouts. We have two main programs during seasonal operations. Once is called ‘High Adventure’ where Scouts from all over the country and world can come here and spend a full week taking part in all the activities,” he said. “We also have local ties to the New River Gorge area, so quite frequently we take people there rafting and canoeing.
“It’s just a really great place here, and we want everyone to enjoy it.”
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