2021-2022 preview: Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base at Summit Bechtel Reserve

Skateboarding, whitewater rafting, shooting sports, rock climbing — you can do it all at the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

Scouts can select world-class action sports or take a trek in and around the majestic New River Gorge National River. The 2022 year will prove to be another banner year for the Summit Bechtel Reserve. In 2021, the high-adventure base will pilot a new backpacking program.

Spaces are still available for 2021 programs at both the high-adventure base and the Scouts BSA resident camp, James C. Justice National Scout Camp.

Here’s what else you need to know about planning a trip to this action-packed Scouting playground.

What to expect for 2022

  • Paul R. Christen National High Adventure experiences:
    • New River Experience: This is a 50-mile paddle trek on the New River. Scouts will navigate the upper portion of the river in inflatable kayaks through Class I to III rapids. The final whitewater day in the Lower Canyon is a rafting experience and includes Class III to IV+ rapids. Crews camp along the river through the New River Gorge.
    • Polaris ATV Experience: This is 60-plus miles with five days of travel on ATVs. Stops along the way include epic vistas, exciting side programs and natural STEM education moments. Everyone will especially love the mudhole training. 2021 treks are full.
    • Bike-packing Experience: This is 50-plus miles of backpacking style travel on bikes, “bikepacking.” Trails will include a mixture of single-track, double-track and a small amount of gravel or paved road. Vertical climbs are mostly 600-feet or less with two challenging climbs of around 1,000 vertical feet. Stops along the way, such as the town of Thurmond, provide an opportunity to delve into the history of the New River Gorge.
    • Backpacking Experience: This new experience is built around exploring both the backcountry of the Summit Bechtel Reserve along with the surrounding New River Gorge National River. Hiking through the mountains of southern West Virginia and experiencing some of the best whitewater in the country, this trip has it all.
    • Summit Experience: Not sure which activity best suits you? Try them all with the Summit Experience program. It is the only program that lets you try all the Summit’s high-adventure activities: BMX, skateboarding, mountain biking, zip lines, canopy tours, challenge courses, climbing, shooting sports and more in one setting.
  • James C. Justice National Scout Camp
    • The Justice Scout Camp is a weeklong resident camp for Scout troops and Venturing crews that are looking for challenging advancement opportunities, activity exploration and Scouting traditions. This program is intended to build upon and supplement unit and local resident camp experiences and includes merit badge/ranger elective classes, open activity time, training courses and camp-wide events.

Paul R. Christen registration

You can check out availability at both Paul R. Christen and James C. Justice here.

You can log on to the BSA’s new Find Your Adventure info portal to register. Different from the previous ways to register, you will be required to log in with your My.Scouting credentials.

Registering for a life-changing high-adventure base expedition is an exciting and sometimes competitive experience. To Be Prepared for the best possible experience on registration day, see more information here and this checklist for making sure your My.Scouting account is up-to-date.

Other Paul R. Christen news you need

  • The New River Gorge treks — on bike or boat — qualify participants for the coveted 50-Miler Award.
  • Troops/crews can add a half-day whitewater rafting trip to any program (except the New River Trek, of course) for an additional fee.
  • These are the closest airports to SBR:
    • Charleston, W.Va.: 1 hour
    • Charlotte, N.C., and Pittsburgh: About 4 hours
    • Washington, D.C.: About 5 hours
  • SBR provides all program equipment and personal protective equipment like helmets, pads, PFDs, etc. SBR provides tents as well as cots. For trek programs, participants should bring a sleeping pad for the trail or river as they don’t use cots while out on the trek. Find more details on equipment and links to a planning guide for each program here.

About Michael Freeman 215 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.