My family took a little trip the weekend of July 20 to Lewisburg, W.Va., then up to Cass Scenic Railroad. Both of our stops are places I have visited before, and enjoyed. I was looking forward to sharing Cass, in particular, with my two children. I didn't plan on sharing the trip with Boy Scouts, but I was certainly glad to have their presence just about everywhere we went.
I knew full well that the Boy Scout Jamboree would start on Monday-a fact we assumed was behind it being a little difficult to book hotel rooms. I've been a bit excited about this amazing presence in our state ever since it was announced a few years ago. To see, first-hand, a tiny impact from it on our state was amazing.
We went to McDonald's, Boy Scouts were there. We went to the hotel pool, Boy Scouts were there-well, I think, they don't exactly have their scout uniforms on in the pool. We went to lunch at Cass, Boy Scouts were there. We got on the train, Boy Scouts were there.
Finally, on the train ride, we had a chance to interact with the scouts a bit. Always the photographer, I saw a shot that I knew would be great for their scrapbook, so I offered to take their photo for them. They obliged the crazy woman and we talked some. They were, of course, going to the jamboree. They had already enjoyed their time in West Virginia and thought all the people they had met here were extraordinarily nice.
This is the just the kind of experience I am hoping these scouts will have this year and every time they come to West Virginia to visit the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. The reserve will host the jamboree periodically, but it will always be open to other scout events.
In my mind I see scouts making lifetime memories in the Mountain State. Consequently they will always think fondly of our beautiful and hospitable West Virginia and return here to share those memories with their children and scout troops.
This could indeed have the single greatest impact to the West Virginia economy we have ever seen.
They also are impacting our communities in other positive ways. In five days 40,000 scouts gave 300,000 hours of community service as part of their Summit Bechtel experience. Wow! Just think how they are impacting West Virginia on a personal level.
And on a personal-to-me level, one of our family friends has been a Boy Scout employee for years. We were all so happy for him when he was able to come back to West Virginia to work at Summit Bechtel.
When I saw the first photos of the approximately 40,000 Boy Scouts at the jamboree, I literally got goosebumps and a bit teary-eyed.
This is big. . . really big. . . bigger than we can imagine.