Event is giving back to the state

The Jamboree is in full swing, and, by all accounts, seems to be a major success in its new West Virginia home.

Now, some of you here in the valley might be thinking, but the Jamboree is in Morristown, Ohio. Well, I’m not talking about Jamboree in the Hills, although I’ve heard it’s been successful once again.

I’m actually talking about the Boy Scout Jamboree, which has been taking place over the last several days near Fayetteville, W.Va.

This is the first year the event has taken place in West Virginia, where a new site has been established in the last couple years. It is intended to be the permanent home of the Jamboree, which brings thousands of Scouts from all over the world.

I had the opportunity to visit the Scout Jamboree in 1993 during its tenure at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, and it’s an interesting event to say the least. From the patch trading to international relations, guest speakers and big concerts.

Things have definitely changed since then, with Scouts getting to take various pieces of technology with them, to weight limits and even the type of entertainment (in 93 the main concert was Louise Mandrell, this year it’s 3 Doors Down).

But, the spirit of Scouting is still there.

From the news reports I’ve read, the Jambo has been able to acclimate well in the Mountain State, putting together activities that can mix in with the natural surroundings and finding ways to give back.

Some of you may have read the article from the Associated Press in Saturday’s edition discussing some of the service projects performed by Scouts attending this year’s Jambo.

That’s one of the major aspects of being in Scouts. You find ways to give back to your community or your state. In order to move up certain ranks, you even are required to organize and perform service projects, those which give something positive back.

Some troops even make an annual thing of organizing projects, whether it is beautification efforts, food drives or something else.

The thing with the Jamboree is, where the efforts of a dozen or so Scouts can be seen for a while in their back yard, the efforts of thousands can leave something memorable and usable for years to come.

Almost 40 troops from North Carolina, for example, began work on a walking trail near Alderson, W.Va.

Scouts from Oklahoma and other states started another trail and built benches in an area of McDowell County.

Seventy Scouts from Montana took care of brush which was overrunning a school in Bluefield, while some from Michigan built bat houses in Summers County. The bat houses are hoped to provide a shelter for the bats where they won’t catch a potentially deadly fungal disease.

Even members of the West Virginia University football team got involved, working with Scouts on various projects.

Several of those involved have said they would like to find a way to return and continue these projects. As the Jamboree isn’t an annual gathering, it will be up to others to keep up on much of this work.

I’m sure the projects listed in the AP article are just a small sampling of what has been going on in the last week.

I also believe it will help to inspire others to find even more ways to give back to their communities.

Beyond that, we should think about the way this event is giving to our state economically. With thousands of Scouts, and many more visitors, it is sure to help spread the word of what West Virginia has to offer and could help to draw more visitors and enhance the ongoing tourism efforts.

Tourism, of course, means people spending money in our communities, and the southern counties could definitely use a boost to their economies, much like the rest of us.

I am sure there will be many ways for the state of West Virginia to benefit as a result of the Jamboree know calling our state home.

It’s just a matter of waiting to see how well things go from here on in.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)