Scouts and Venturing youth volunteer at Valley Park in Hurricane
Indiana wants them, and, sadly, they’ll be going back there.
A group of about 50 Boy Scouts and co-ed members of the affiliated Boy Scouts of America’s Venturing program from Indiana visited Valley Park in Hurricane on Tuesday, July 18. They were on their way to the BSA’s National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve near the New River Gorge in Fayette County.
The Hoosier State scouts and adult leaders parked their chartered bus at Valley Park to volunteer some time at painting, clearing brush, weeding and doing other fix-up and maintenance tasks as the park area undergoes a major renovation. The Rivers to Ridges Heritage Trail facilitated the scout group’s service project at Valley Park.
“We’re on our way to the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean -- we’re the contingent from the Hoosier Trails Council, which basically represents South-Central Indiana,” said Stephen G. Kent, scout leader and contingent leader for the Hoosier Trails Council of Indiana.
Kent said one of the core purposes of scouting is volunteerism, and the trip to the national jamboree provides opportunities to help out in local communities.
“Part of our development in the scouting program is to give back to communities, and service projects are a normal part of rank advancement in the scouting program. This is an opportunity for scouts coming in from around the country to be able to help out West Virginia for hosting the summit,” Kent said, as the scouts busied themselves at various locations at Valley Park on a hot, July day.
“We’re going to be clearing brush for a disc golf course, they’re working on horseshoe pits and they’re also painting benches and doing some landscaping,” Kent said.
Kent said every Boy Scout unit heading to West Virginia for the jamboree would be stopping somewhere in the state to participate in a community service project.
The Hoosier Trails Council group includes Boy Scouts and also Venturing youth, which includes males and females. Ten members of the Indiana group are in the Venturing program.
“We’ve got two different programs within the Boy Scouts of America. We have the Boy Scout troop, which is made up of boys from the ages of 12 to 17, and then we have the Venturing crew. The Venturers are co-ed, and they are 14 to 20 years old,” he said.
Venturing “is the older youth program of the Boy Scouts of America.”
Senior Patrol Leader Fred Wilder is the ranking Boy Scout with the Indiana group.
“He runs the troop, and I’m his advisor,” Kent said.
Wilder said the Boy Scouts in his group are hard workers.
“It’s going great -- you couldn’t ask for a better crew,” Wilder said.
The Indiana Boy Scouts and Venture crew worked all afternoon at Valley Park and then headed to the National Guard Armory in Eleanor to spend the night. The next morning, July 19, they headed to the National Scout Jamboree.
Putnam County Parks & Recreation Director Jarrod Dean said he welcomes the volunteer efforts of the Boy Scouts and Venturing crew from Indiana.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to be here; as a public park, we always have projects going on. We want to keep upgrading and upgrading to benefit the people here of Putnam County,” Dean said. “What they’re doing here today is helping us out tremendously in moving forward and getting this done.”
Lowell Wilks, program coordinator of the Rivers to Ridges Heritage Trail, said the Indiana Boy Scout troop and Venturing crew wound up helping at Valley Park through a request from the West Virginia Citizens Conservation Corps.
The West Virginia CCC “reached out to the Putnam County Commission, asking if there were any service projects scouts could do on their way to the Jamboree. On behalf of the commission, Brian Donat and Jeremy Young, former and present administrators, asked me if Rivers to Ridges could identify a project and facilitate. In time, projects at Valley Park were identified by Jarrod Dean and myself. Putnam County Parks became the sponsor, and Rivers to Ridges coordinated the planning and service assistance from the scouts,” Wilks said.