Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 20, 2013

Scouts sprucing up region with hard work, smiles

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Boy Scout troops were again hard at work in Mercer County Friday for the third day of the 2013 Boys Scouts of America National Jamboree Day of Service Initiative.

A troop from Utah and another from Indiana spent the day working on various projects at the Glenwood Recreation park including cleaning up the playground, washing down the fisherman’s deck, building new walking trails and repairing the Calfee-Walls Cabin on the park site.

Greg Pruett, manager of Glenwood Park, said the Scouts have been phenomenal in the various projects around the park. In previous days, Pruett said troops from Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have also worked at the park.

“They are all energetic and ready to go,” Pruett said. “It’s a win-win for us here. They are very willing to work and seem to enjoy it. Things that I would think of as hard work excite these kids. They are getting to see places and participate in activities they never got to do before.”

So far, Pruett said the various troops have removed stumps and rocks to make new hiking and walking trails in the park. Pruett estimated two new miles of trails will be added to the park by the time the Scout service initiative ends on Tuesday.

Pruett said the new trails will be a huge benefit to local residents.

“We want to promote exercise since there is a great need for exercise in our community,” Pruett said. “Presently, a lot of people who come to the park walk in the roadway. These trails will create new paths for walking and mountain biking, which is a popular activity around here. These trails will be safer because they will not be open to vehicle traffic.”

Gatlin Peterson, 14, is a senior patrol leader from the Central Utah-based troop working in the park.

“It’s been fun working together,” he said. “We are getting to know everyone else and learning new skills. We have done some trail building at home before, but this is a lot of fun. It’s great that we are getting to help out the community. We are having fun and doing some important work at the same time.”

While Utah is just as hot as southern West Virginia, Peterson said the humidity is the biggest difference for the troop.

“It is a lot more humid here,” he said. “We’ve gotten to see a lot of nice places since we’ve been here.”

Kayle Dotson, 17, said he expected the area would be somewhat different from his hometown.

“I had this trip planned out for a long time,” Dotson said. “I really expected something different from Utah. It’s hot here and it’s hot there, but it’s much wetter here. Back home, we do a lot of work like this in our local canyons. We’ve worked in the parks and canyons for service projects and helping out with Eagle Scout projects. It’s great to know that we are helping out someone else and another community.”

Of course, Dotson said he and his fellow Scouts are also having plenty of fun at the Summit.

“The Summit is just amazing,” he said. “You get to meet people from all over and everything they have there is world class. They’ve brought in experts to teach classes and they have some of the best things for us to do. The biggest thing for our troop has been the BMX biking and riding those trails. It’s been a really neat experience.”

Scoutmaster Gary Cole said there are between 10 and 15 Eagle Scouts in the troop but most have never been to a national jamboree before.

“Part of scouting is doing service projects,” he said. “They are required for advancement and scouts do a lot of projects for their communities and churches. In any community you go to you should be civic minded. We have to respect and take care of our country because it is so beautiful. It’s important that we teach the kids to take care of their country, even when they are on vacation.”

Cole said he hopes some of the Scouts will come back to the area to see the long-term benefits of their service projects.

“You all have a beautiful state and since we are using some of it, we decided it would be nice to give something back,” he said. “One thing you find when you do service projects is that you love the things you do. Doing a service project is like raising a child in that you love the thing you have put so much hard work into. I hope 50 years from now these kids can come back here and show their kids and grandkids what they accomplished during their jamboree.”

Scout troops have also been hard at work doing projects for the local school system according to Kellan Sarles, an information specialist with Mercer County Schools. Sarles said Scouts have been working with AmeriCorps Volunteers at Whitethorn Primary, Athens School, Bluewell School, Brushfork Elementary and PikeView Middle School. Troops from Texas, Illinois, Louisiana and others helped clean up areas around the schools.

Phoebe Meadows, principal of Athens School, said the progress she has seen has been amazing.

“I didn’t know we would also get the AmeriCorps volunteers,” Meadows said. “Some of the volunteers are coming back to help ready the building for the opening of school. They have been cleaning the gymnasium and clearing overgrown vegetation on the playground. I was able to give the Scouts a short lesson on West Virginia history and they were very attentive.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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