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For Zip Staff Fun is Academic

As the scope of activities at the jamboree has grown, so has West Virginia University’s footprint at the Summit. For some, it’s a match made in “Almost Heaven.”

“I worked here at the first Jamboree in 2013,” Ryan Campione said while preparing to greet an anxious group of Scouts at the Canopy zip line course Saturday morning.

“That year, WVU had about 30 people on staff here, mostly zip lining. This year we have 82. We could use more.”

Campione grew up in Morgantown, where West Virginia University is located, just a couple hours north of the Summit. He went on to become student body president and graduated with a degree in industrial engineering. He now works for the university.

“I’m an Eagle Scout, worked at Camp Mountaineer for a couple years, and so I’m blending some Scouting background with my academic background in what we’re doing here with zip lines,” Campione explained.

Most Scouts might not consider that science and zip lining are connected, but those who encounter Campione will get a glimpse into the physics behind it all. Determining how long a zip should be, how much slack should be in the line and how to calculate rate of speed are just the basics.

“We’ve got a good mixture of backgrounds on staff, at least five Eagles that I know of here at the Canopy today. Some are university staff; some are students.”

Zach Henderson hails from Pittsburgh but considers himself a West Virginian. “When I discovered WVU had this Outdoor Education Center I was, like, yeah this is for me,” Henderson said.

“The school’s Adventure West Virginia program costs $90, and participants get to go on amazing rafting, climbing, backpacking trips, whatever outdoors high adventure you can think of. Its an amazing opportunity and has huge payoffs.”

West Virginia University operates its own zip lines, climbing walls, and rope challenge courses that provide a perfect training ground for potential Summit staffers. The school’s training curriculum is sanctioned by the Association for Challenge Course Technology and is the only university-based program like it in the country offering specialized training and certification in high activities.

Henderson said, “WVU has staff all over Jambo. A lot of people in the school’s forensic sciences program have found opportunities here at the Summit. One guy that’s doing research on ballistics at WVU got a job on staff at the Barrels. He’s teaching shooting and having fun outdoors and at the end of Jamboree he’ll have all these spent shotgun shells and bullet casings he needs for his research.”

“Students that get involved in these outdoor and high adventure programs the schools offer have been shown to have a 60 percent higher graduation rate. So, this kind of experience works well for the school, the students, and for Jambo.”

And Henderson said that even more hands would be welcome.

“We sure could use them. There are eight canopy courses in this side of the mountain alone,” Henderson explained, “and we are only able to have two of them open for jamboree because of staffing. These activities are only getting more popular and we need to make sure the opportunity is there for anyone who shows up here to explore them.

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