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How Many Scouts Does It Take To Build 30 Miles Of Trail?

It was a busy week in West Virginia.

Week 2 of SummitCorps was powered by the largest group of Scouts that the project will see throughout the entire 4 weeks. During those 7 days, an astounding 372 Scouts from all over the country were clearing their way, quite literally, through the New River Gorge.

Youth leaders at SummitCorps
SummitCorps is run primarily by youth leadership. (From left to right: Joseph Garcia, Dan Dick, Jonathan Hillis, Preston Marquis) (Photo from Summit Blog Staff)

The I-Corps had high expectations for this group, especially after seeing the amazing progress made by the Scouts in the first week.

During the first 7 days of SummitCorps, 202 youth cleared 14,800 feet of trail. They also managed to raise $1,500 through a locally held patch auction fundraiser.

Setting the bar high, right?

That’s some serious work, and there was a lot of excitement to see what nearly twice as many Scouts will produce this time.

“We had the first group out here to be guinea pigs, and now we have a big group here to hit the ground,” said Jonathan Hillis, national chief of the Order of the Arrow.

Hillis, the head youth leader at SummitCorps, believes this group could be even more successful because of their numbers and the fact that the leaders have had a week to perfect the process.

“I think we had a resounding success week 1, but there are always some kinks to work out,” Hillis said.

SummitCorps is especially challenging because nearly all leadership positions change on a weekly basis. As one crew finishes up their session, leaders of the new crews arrive and are trained on-site by their predecessors.

As trails lengthen, logistics also become more challenging.

New River Gorge
During the first 7 days, 202 youth cleared 14,800 feet of trail. (Photo by Summit Blog Staff)

Each week, delegated Scouts and adults must reevaluate and revise many on-site operations. For example, planning medical dispatches has become more complex, especially since the area being developed has doubled.

However, Scouts are handling these challenges gracefully and show up every day with a work-hard-play-hard attitude.

After 4 days of work, the Arrowmen are given the chance to take advantage of local adventure activities like rafting and zip-lining or they can choose to spend the day exploring neighboring towns.

In any case, they are definitely getting their share of developing and exploring the home of many jamborees to come. Not to mention they are part of one of the largest youth service projects in National Park Service history.

There’s that whole “setting the bar high” thing again.

What’s the biggest service project you’ve been a part of?

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