Creating and maintaining the Summit Bechtel Reserve brought jobs and money to West Virginia, a state ranked 47th in per-capita personal income last year.
But now that the Summit is built, that positive impact on the community will only continue to grow thanks to initiatives like the Messengers of Peace Day of Service, which launched today.
I spent most of the day today tagging along with Crew F206, a jamboree unit that combines Venturers from the Maui County Council in Hawaii and the Denver Area Council in Colorado.
Joined by two outstanding Arrowmen from the Order of the Arrow, the group spent four hours creating hiking and biking trails near Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley, W.Va., about 30 minutes from the Summit.
Theirs is just one of hundreds of similar projects that jamboree participants will complete over the next several days. Messengers of Peace Day of Service (or MOPDOS) organizers expect 250,000 man-hours of service during the jamboree.
I know; it’s easy to gloss over that 250,000 number. Yes, it’s clearly a lot, but to really understand the effect of each individual hour, you need to look closer at units like Crew F206. So I did.
Before we left this morning, I had a nice conversation with Greg Moore, deputy advisor for MOPDOS. The Scouter explained why the Order of the Arrow was a natural fit to help with this service event.
“It all goes back to what the OA’s all about,” he said. “We’re the perfect guys to work with on this project.”
The idea for MOPDOS, Moore said, grew from the desire to have Scouts be more than just visitors to West Virginia. They should leave it better than they found it. Still, participants pay money to attend the jamboree, and Moore says that’s why outsiders might be shocked to learn about MOPDOS.
“Most people would be surprised to hear about people paying to go to work,” Moore said. “The potential impact to the perception of Scouting is huge.”
When our bus finally pulled into the site, Gary Morefield of the Raleigh County Cycle Club grinned and waved his arms. Moments later, he talked to the group.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Morefield said. “This trail is something I’ve been dreaming of for eight years.”
Now that Morefield finally has the manpower and womanpower to get it done, he’s thrilled. Scouts and Venturers visit on five separate days this week. Throughout Crew F206’s day, he shook his head in amazement and snapped photos with his phone to post on Facebook for his friends to see.
In just four hours, a large section of the path — formerly a logging road — transformed from a dangerous tangle of roots, branches and stumps into an inviting route for bikes and hikes.
The Venturers worked until they were drenched with sweat and covered with dirt. But they still had time to talk and joke around.
Venturers from Maui taught Venturers from Colorado how to pronounce Hawaiian words, like the Hawaiian fish the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (pronounced just like it looks — easy, right?).
From there, the conversation flowed from books based on the Halo video game series, to the TV show Doctor Who, to the names of the Hawaiian islands, and to Venturer Hulukoa Nunokawa’s rules to enter the “Honorary Hawaiian Club.”
“Everybody in our crew is already honorary Hawaiians,” Hulukoa said.
For Hulukoa, the project was a family affair. His older brother, twin sister, and both of his parents are members of the crew from Maui. Quite an impressive Venturing family, they know how to work hard and have fun while doing it.
All of the Venturers did the BSA proud, but a special shout-out to OA Service Corps members Jonathan Haines and Aaron Mullinax. They led the trip with a smile, as you’d expect from a group who counts “cheerful service” as its chief tenet.
Said Aaron: “It’s cool because we’re not just helping ourselves; we’re helping the community.”