Three cheers for the Boy Scouts of America!
SummitCorps 2011 is in full swing at New River Gorge National River. Throughout the month of July, 1400 Boy Scouts between the ages of 14 and 21 will be volunteering their time and energy to construct and improve trails within the park.
Members of The Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scout’s National Honor Society, will be constructing 16 miles of completely new trails, rehabilitating another 12 miles of existing trails, and removing invasive plants. Each week, a new group of 250 to 350 Scouts will arrive from all across the country to participate in one of the largest youth service projects in national park history. Each boy raised $250 to participate in the event, plus travel costs, and will spend 32 hours working in the park.
“The National Park Service is extremely proud to be working with our longstanding partners at the Boy Scouts of America,” said Don Striker, the park’s superintendent. “This project will save taxpayers over $1 million, as the Boy Scouts clearly demonstrate their leadership in developing youth who understand the importance of community service and the shared stewardship of our national parks. It's remarkable that these boys are paying money to come and provide 32 hours of cheerful service to the park."
The Order of the Arrow was formed in 1915, one year before the National Park Service, and by 1925 was sponsoring trail building projects in Yellowstone NP. Glacier, Yosemite, Mount Rainier and Crater Lakes NPs all hosted Arrow Corps trail builders in the 1920s and 30s.
New River Gorge National River is delighted that the Order of the Arrow selected this park to renew their commitment to trail building in national parks. This project is the culmination of more than a year of planning, and is being managed by a joint OA/NPS incident command team that includes youth members in key ICT roles.
This is the first of many future partnership projects. The Boy Scouts of America are committed to future service projects in the park and the surrounding community, as they establish the new home of the Jamboree and a High Adventure Camp adjacent to park lands.