Valdosta Daily Times

July 22, 2013

Local Scouts ascend mountain at Jamboree

Matt Gannon
Special to The Times

MT. HOPE, W.Va. — For 15-year-old Kale Leisey and the Boy Scouts of National Scout Jamboree Troop D417, Wednesday’s ascension to the highest point of the Summit Bechtel Reserve proved to be a challenge.

“It was long, scenic, and relaxing, and it needs more resting areas, but it was fun,” said Leisey of Hahira.

On Saturday, July 13, 40 boys and adults from around South Georgia — part of the newly formed BSA South Georgia Council — departed from Lakeland, heading towards the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mount Hope, W.Va. The reserve is to be the Boy Scouts of America’s newest high-adventure base, and the

permanent home of the National Scout Jamboree, having moved from its previous home of nearly 30 years, Fort A.P. Hill, a Virginia U.S. Army Base. Complete with state-of-the-art shooting sports complexes, aquatics activities in its two lakes, BMX and skateboarding parks, miles of ziplines rigged all over the camp, and almost 40,000 scouts and guests (including the King of Sweden), the nearly $250 million camp had its grand opening Tuesday, July 16.

The next day, the Scouts of D417 — coming from different parts of South Georgia, the largest groups being from the Valdosta and Quitman areas — joined the rest of the Jamboree in an event known as the Jamboree Trek. This event required the Scouts to wake up early and take a nearly six-mile hike out of their camps and up rugged, rough, and rocky roads to reach the highest point in the reserve, known simply as the “Summit.”

The ascension for Leisey and the Scouts of Troop D417, which began at 7:30 a.m., ended at exactly 11:30 a.m. when they reached the top of the Summit. Once there, the Scouts spent the rest of the day exploring the Summit, shooting black-powder, muzzle-loading guns, and even playing Highland games hosted by Scottish Boy Scouts who are visiting the Jamboree.

“My favorite part of the day was shooting the black-powder, muzzle-loading guns at the Summit,” said Leisey.

Around 6 p.m., the then-exhausted Scouts boarded buses which took them back to the main Jamboree camp, where they worked through a thunderstorm to prepare and eat dinner, and at last, a good rest for the next several days of the Jamboree.

Matt Gannon is with Troop D417.