The Order of the Arrow (OA), which is the Boy Scouts of America’s national honor society, in coordination with the National Park Service announced today that nearly 1,700 volunteers will conduct a four-week national service project at New River Gorge National River (NERI) through a program called SummitCorps 2011. During the month-long event, each Scout volunteer will dedicate 32 hours to building and rehabilitating multiuse trails in the park.
During July, Boy Scouts between the ages of 14 and 21 will build 16 miles of world-class hike and bike trails, rehabilitate 12 miles of ATV trails, and remove four acres of invasive plants. Each week, a new group of 250 to 350 Scouts will perform service projects in the park, making it one of the largest youth service projects performed in National Park Service history.
According to Don Striker, superintendent of NERI, “The National Park Service is extremely proud to be working with our longstanding partners at the Boy Scouts of America to fulfill the organization’s commitment to give back to their new neighbors at the Summit. 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.”
While the hike and bike trails are located near the BSA’s newest high-adventure base, the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, the trails will be available for anyone visiting the park. To enhance the design and construction of the trails, the National Park Service has contracted with the International Mountain Bicycling Association for the association to develop the design for the multiuse trails.
“To see thousands of young people—many of them teenagers—from across the nation give up a portion of their summer to do hard physical work should inspire all of us that the next generation of youth are headed in the right direction,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America. “Boy Scouts have always understood the importance of the outdoor classroom, and are extremely proud to partner with the National Park Service to create these world-class biking trails and many more service projects that will benefit the community.”
The BSA plans an ongoing service learning relationship with the Park Service and neighboring communities. Every Scout who attends a jamboree, an adventure camp, or a leadership school at the Summit will be expected to donate at least six hours of time to the park and/or the local communities.
The NPS goals are to engage these youth volunteers through service-learning, educate them about the park resources and NPS mission, and provide recreational opportunities for them that fulfill the principles of the First Lady’s Let’s Move Outside initiative and President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
About the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America prepares young people for life by providing the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. The Scouting organization is composed of 2.7 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21, and more than a million volunteers, in nearly 300 local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.scouting.org. For information about Order of the Arrow, visit www.oa-bsa.org .
About the National Park Service
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. For more information about the National Park Service, visit http://www.nps.gov .