Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Independence Adventure at WV's Summit Bechtel Reserve

Mr. P. and I, along with my oldest daughter and SIL, spent the 4th of July at The Summit Bechtel Reserve, an adventure center in West Virginia for millions of youth and adults involved in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). If you know a scout, then you've probably heard of this place; if not, you can live vicariously through our photo adventure quick tour right now! Grab a seat and rest now, because you'll be tired after all the activities I'm going to go through!
Entry to Summit Bechtel Reserve - Glen Jean, WV
Brief history: the BSA had its permanent location for National Jamboree (national scout gathering held every four years) at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia from 1981 until last year (2013), when West Virginia hosted its inaugural event in the new, 5,000 acre permanent BSA home, named the Summit.  WV won in the selection process over several other state locations, mostly because of its proximity to the more than 70,000 additional acres of the managed wilderness of the New River Gorge National River.  Thirteen miles of the Summit borders the national park, which offers, among other adventure activities available, class III to class VI whitewater rafting on the New and Gauley Rivers.

It took four years from conception to completion for the Summit to be built and ready for its inaugural National Jamboree in 2013, hosting more than 40,000 scout attendees.
Aerial photo of the Summit. Photo credit: SUMMITBSA.ORG website, Todd Punch, photographer
Our adventure was part of a 2014 summer weekend, limited offer to the general public, in which we participated in a single-day pass to enjoy over 100 acres of adventure from 10am to 6pm, for just $55 per person, including ALL equipment.

At the area called Action Point, we participated in several activities, included ziplining.  We've all ziplined before at the New River Gorge facility, so in this adventure we all felt safe and confident.
Mr. P, ziplining among the trees as our canopy
Obstacle Challenge Course...
Daughter B, walking the wire with roped guardrails (3rd station of this challenge)
This course was scary!  After "ground school" and the first climb up on a cargo net, there were 4 additionally progressive and frightening walks to pass on mere wire, rope & logs, while being tethered to a wire above with a polyester lanyard and clip.  Needless to say, my legs were quivering more with each successive station, and I literally hugged the trees between points!
Mr. P. walking the tight wire on station #4 of this challenge.  The crossed ropes you see (on rt) were the only 'handles'.
Other activities at the Action Point we all participated in included Mountain Biking, but there were also skateboard and dirt bike courses. Daughter B tried skateboarding, and quit after her first ramp and fall. :)
Action Point: various activities, including ziplining, obstacle course, skateboarding, dirt bikes, and mountain biking
After a quick lunch from the only concession vendor on premise for the public, we moved on to other activities.  Next, we tried the Tomahawk Toss (daughter B has an MFA from Florida State, so we insisted on doing this one!).
Daughter B (rt), landing a Seminole-style hawk, dead center, while SIL M looks on.
After that, we moved on to Archery.
Then, on to Trap Shooting with bow and arrow.  SIL M was the only one crazy patient enough who tried this one.
SIL M, aiming for target disk in upper right corner of frame
And he succeeded!
One of the most favorite activities for me (I really liked that Obstacle Course, after it was over) ended up being the last one - Rock Climbing!  Mr. P. was tired, so he took my camera and took photos.
SIL M, Me, and Daughter B on rock climbing wall.  Instructor in foreground, on ground level.
We each made it to the top!
Daughter B and SIL M then proceeded to the adjacent Rappelling wall for the final activity of the day.
Daughter B, Instructor, and SIL M at top of rappelling wall
Our day was awesomely tiring, and our weather was a picture perfect 78°, low humidity and a northerly, breezy interruption to our normal summer weather. Our walk back to the main Conference Center and Trading Post was scenic, along the boardwalk that is part of the camp.
The pictures here barely give a glimpse into the magnitude of this facility, much of it not even available to us, the general public. There are some folks around this area who would make the argument that another secret bunker facility, much like the one I described in my post on the Historic WV Greenbrier Resort, was built here, based on eyewitness accounts of all the concrete trucks that hauled in and out during the facility's construction. It wouldn't surprise me if there was another bunker here, there's certainly room for one or two.

We didn't even come close to having enough time to take part in the available water activities, which included standup paddle boarding and kayaking. A two-day pass would have taken care of that, but those were also things we knew we could do on our upcoming vacation, so we opted out of those in our adventure at Summit. Daugher B collects shot glasses toothpick holders, and they had one at the Trading Post, which B said she will display proudly after that day of adventure.
A Portion of Lake Goodrich at Summit Bechtel Reserve
One section of campsite tents for scouts
If you know of any scouts who may be considering this facility, whether it's for a short-stay camp, the National Jamboree, or future employment, I can vouch for how wonderful a place it is, and it's just about an hour south and east of Charleston, the capital city. Of course, being in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, you'll be passing through remote areas, with road names like Lick Fork Rd, Paint Creek Cutoff Rd, and Coaldale Rd before you get there. ;)

The young adult instructors were from places all over the country, including California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Georgia, just a few named from those we asked.  Campers and staff stay in 8' x 10' tents in designated areas, and have conveniences like WiFi, Water and Portable Restrooms, more than plentifully planted throughout the acreage.
WiFi, Concession Vendor (Primarily for Visitors), Water Station
Huge bronzes of various benefactors, scattered on the property
Sampling of wonderful structures throughout the property
For more information on the Summit Bechtel Reserve, check out their website:  www.summitbsa.org. Go big, go wild, go West Virginia!

NOTE:  This post is not sponsored in any way.  It is strictly my review and opinion of my visit there!

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