Drifting into the hills of southern West Virginia doesn’t promise to be just a lot of camping adventures when the Boy Scouts of America arrive next summer for a national jamboree.
Reversing an old saw, all play and no work could make for a dull boy.
There will be ample work to keep the lads busy when they set up camp at the 10,600-acre Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County.
Heading up five days of service projects in a nine-county swath of southern West Virginia will be the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia.
“Our mission is to strengthen communities and develop leaders,” says Rich Smith, deputy region director for programming at NCCC.
“We partner with non-profit organizations to meet urgent community needs.”
West Virginia is among 11 states within the purview of AmeriCorps NCCC’s southern region, and it has answered the call to help supervise and coordinate the planning of various projects in mind for Fayette, Greenbrier, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties.
Jennifer Douglas of Beckley, the chief operating officer for the CCC of West Virginia, says her group has been selected as the clearinghouse to coordinate the full scope of the project involving Boy Scout volunteers.
“This is the first time in history of the Scouts they have had five days of serving during a national jamboree,” she said. “They have done it in a world jamboree.”
In mind are 300,000 hours of community service spread over five days with as many as 10,000 volunteers, entailing some 250 school buses leaving the summit near Glen Jean for projects in the nine counties, she pointed out.
“The great thing about the CCC of West Virginia is that it is a revitalization, a spin-off of the original CCC during the 1930s, the FDR era,” Douglas said.
“We have the same models and principles that we use in our line of work and teaching service to young people creating opportunities for their future. That model mirrors what they’re doing and for us to team up together to make this happen is just amazing.”
Some 300 projects are being mapped out, covering such arenas as wellness, green friendly, infrastructure and arts and education.
“So, when all these volunteers come in and do a particular project, they will also have some type of educational-recreational experience,” Douglas said.
To get a handle on what communities want, the CCC of West Virginia did some scouting on its own — picking the brains of children in grades K-12 for ideas on trail building and school improvements.
“The exciting thing about CCC and AmeriCorps is we’re doing demo projects in August and September,” she said.
“They’re coming in Aug. 9 to Sept. 28 to be right here by our side to go through this trial run in demo projects so we get it right and to demonstrate to each of the counties what it’s going to look like.”
One such demonstration will occur at Bowers Hospice House in Raleigh County, she noted.
“That’s something that we didn’t know until we carved our roles,” Douglas said.
Initially, AmeriCorps NCCC will provide 24 people for the startup, said Gary Turner, the entity’s southern region director.
“After that, we have committed ourselves to bringing about 160 young people in for that period of about five days.”
All are between 18 and 24, an age bracket selected since the rigors of much of their work is best suited to the young and strong, Smith pointed out.
Turner pointed out AmeriCorps NCCC operates in five campuses — Vicksburg; Perry Point, Md.; Benton, Iowa; Denver, Colorado; and Sacramento, Calif.
“This sits within our region — the state of West Virginia — and that’s why the partnership is very easy for us,” he said.
“We will pull upon our sister campus in Perry Point to make sure we have the necessary resources to meet the needs of the CCC here in West Virginia. We’re ready to go. We’re excited about it. We can’t wait to deepen our relationship.”
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