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How Recycling Turned Boy Scouts Into Kayakers. Wait, What?

This is part 3 of a 4 part series about a service project (recycling) that we tied to some adventure stuff (Bridge Day). Fun? Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

New River Gorge Whitewater Kayaking
Scouts from Troop 179 took what they learned from their whitewater kayaking clinic and headed out on the river. (Summit Blog Staff Photo)

Bridge Day on the New River Gorge Bridge is the biggest single-day festival of the year in West Virginia. Thousands gather to check out the BASE jumpers leaping off the bridge, while there are tons of booths, exhibits and food for people to enjoy.

This means that there is also a ton of trash.

To cut down on the amount of garbage that would wind up in a landfill that day, Troop 179 from Fayetteville, WV, was called to action to collect cardboard for recycling. They worked for hours, and though it was pretty tough business wrangling all that cardboard, there was plenty for the troop to see and do outside of the recycling bin.


Want to see what kind of rapids the pros are running? Share this post and unlock a bonus video of a kayak race that’s steeper than you think.

An Adventurous Reward

[pullquote]“It’s an adventure thing.” — George Lechalk, Troop 179 Scoutmaster.[/pullquote]

To reward their service, the Scouts were invited to join the National Park Service and the Bridge Day Rescue Team in rescuing BASE jumpers from the water below the bridge. These guys actually got to get out on a boat in a whitewater river and help protect some sopping-wet BASE jumpers from flushing downstream.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The next day they were treated to a whitewater kayaking clinic on the very same rapid they had been working rescue in the day before. Professional kayakers from Jackson Kayak hosted the clinic just for the troop, and it rocked.

The pros were just as excited as the Scouts to share their sport, as they showed Troop 179 the basics of whitewater kayaking gear, paddle strokes and how to get out of the boat if they flipped upside down, because, well, that’s kind of important.

Adopting A New Activity

Here’s the great part: The Scouts had such a fun time on the river, Troop 179 has since bought a couple youth kayaks and plan on taking them out this summer.

“It’s an adventure thing,” says Troop 179 Scoutmaster George Lechalk. “That’s what the boys are into.”

Fayetteville, next-door neighbor to the Summit, is a town where kayaking is pretty common. The Scouts from Troop 179 are familiar with the sport just from living in the area. However, most of the Scouts had never been whitewater kayaking.

“The boys see it all the time. They just weren’t exposed to it before,” adds Lechalk.

Troop 179 Gets Wet
There’s no shortage of fun on the New River as long as you’re ready to get a little wet. (Summit Blog Staff Photo)

So not only did the Scouts benefit by helping out at a local event, they also experienced a clinic on the New River and took up a new hobby. Those are pretty good reasons to recycle.

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this same series here on

Scouts do service projects for the sole purpose of helping out others. But getting something in return is always pretty cool, too. What are some rewards you’ve gotten in the past for taking part in a service project?

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