With all of the numbers tossed around about the new home of the Boy Scouts National Jamboree in Glen Jean, it can be a little difficult to grasp the size of such a project.
The Summit Bechtel Reserve has been called a “game-changer” for West Virginia because of its potential positive economic impact. In addition to hosting the National Jamboree every four years, Glen Jean was recently chosen as the site of the 2019 World Jamboree.
The site will encompass 10,600 acres adjacent to the New River Gorge National Park. Including endzones, the site has an area equal to more than 8,000 football fields.
The site runs 5.4 miles from east to west and about 5 miles north to south. The outer perimeter of the property is about 22 miles.
The land area, 10,600 acres, is equal to about 16.5 square miles. The city limits of Beckley encompass around 9.2 square miles.
The number of visitors expected for the National Jamboree — 30,000 scouts, up to 10,000 adult volunteers and up to 25,000 visitors on each of the days of the event — exceeds 60,000 on any given day of the jamboree. According to the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 62,000 people combined in Fayette County and the city of Beckley.
On a peak day, Gary Hartley, a local Boy Scouts of America representative, said the event will attract between 75,000 and 80,000 people. He compared the crowd to the one-day Bridge Day festival — stretched over 10 days.
Some officials’ predictions place the number of visitors even higher — up to 300,000 non-Boy Scout visitors over the 10-day period of the Jamboree.
While the average amount that each visitor will spend may vary, if just 60,000 scouts and parents let go of just $50 each per day of the festival, $30 million would be spent in the area in just over a week. Hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other local services will likely benefit from the Jamboree, only a little more than 900 days away.
Whitewater rafting and other surrounding tourism and adventure companies are also expected to see a spike in business during the week of the Jamboree.
After the Jamboree, officials said about 50,000 people, approximately the population of Charleston, are expected to come through the high-adventure camp each summer.
An economic study by the Boy Scouts of America estimates the Jamboree could add more than $40 million in new local expenditures and, within a core two-month period, support more than 4,000 local jobs. Construction, infrastructure development, and preparation of the site is expected to generate more than $100 million in additional local income.
The most recent Jamboree attracted 29,000 Scouts and 12,000 staff and leaders for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Boy Scouts.
There are three other high adventure camps in the U.S. They are located in New Mexico, Minnesota and Florida. Each of those camps serves more than 50,000 Boy Scouts a year. An additional 20,000 Scouts are put on a wait-list each year.
Activities at the camps include rappelling, discovering scuba, kayaking, rafting and sailing, trap shooting, archery, bikeathlons, buckskin games, confidence courses, conservation trail, and more.