When it comes to serving our communities, Scouts will do whatever it takes.
At the BSA’s Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, that means answering the call when local health officials needed a drive-thru testing site for people suspected of having COVID-19.
The high-adventure base itself sits tucked back among trees, lakes and rolling hills — far from any busy roads. But SBR’s public-facing J.W. & Hazel Ruby West Virginia Welcome Center, located several miles from SBR’s program and camping areas, is right off U.S Route 19, a major thoroughfare in the area.
Combine that convenient location with SBR’s proven ability to coordinate large-scale operations like national jamborees and the 2019 World Jamboree, and the pairing was “an obvious choice,” says Shane Wheeler, SBR’s health and safety manager.
“I see this as a unique opportunity for the organization to shine, to provide a sense of duty and patriotism and support our nation through this troubled time,” Wheeler says.
As of April 10, officials are using the site to conduct testing two days a week, with the ability to ramp up as needed. Nearly 100 people have been tested so far.
Ready to help
SBR staff members helped local officials set up the testing site and are providing ongoing logistical support as needed.
“We are all proud of the efforts of the staff and leadership of the SBR to boldly step up and assist our local health department and our community in this time of need and uncertainty,” Wheeler says.
Even though the drive-thru testing site is far from the SBR’s main program areas, I asked Wheeler whether parents should be concerned about COVID-19 tests being conducted at SBR.
He assured me that those being tested must stay in their vehicles at all times.
“At no time are the tested permitted to leave their vehicles, and at no time is a volunteer allowed out of the immediate testing area — the ‘Hot Zone’ — without being decontaminated,” Wheeler says.
Stepping up to help
Wheeler quickly points out that SBR staffers aren’t the only Scouts and Scouters helping fight COVID-19 across our country. (We’ve covered a few ways you can help right from home.)
“Whether it’s organizing groups to make masks for our healthcare providers, helping distribute or prepare meals to the disadvantaged and elderly, or organizing our membership to support local hospitals and health departments, Scouting has a long and proud history of stepping up in times of crisis,” he says. “I see this as no time for us to be bystanders.”
Thanks to Wheeler, Director of Facilities Rob Ridgeway, Summit Group Director Todd McGregor and all the men and women at SBR for their service to Scouting.
All photos by Tim Naylor