The gravel paths a the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve were stirred in a cloud of excitement as veterans and Scouts set off on a 2K relay. Some participants manned wheelchairs as they rolled for the finish line, others pounded the road with spirited sprints. But the friendly competition was eclipsed by the sense of camaraderie among Scouts and the veterans they sought to honor at the Summit’s inaugural Veterans’ Appreciation Day.
The event sent veterans down ziplines, including a para-Zip (one of just a few in the country to accommodate wheelchair users). They also experienced more of the Summit’s revered Scouting activities, like archery, rock climbing, fishing, basketball, and tomahawk throws. These activities were designed to demonstrate the resilience of our service members and veterans, many of whom overcame life-altering injuries to achieve personal success and wellness.
Scouts peaked into the world of veterans too. Besides teaming up with veterans for competitions throughout the day and enjoying lunch together, Scouts faced challenges they hadn’t before, like shooting basketballs from wheelchairs.
“One of my favorite memories was just eating lunch with a veteran who shared stories about his time in combat,” Boy Scout Dominic Rodriguez told Beckley Register-Herald. “He had been paralyzed, but he had no anger from it. He showed us so much kindness and it’s always nice when an adult takes the time to talk to us younger people.”
The event, which partnered the Boy Scouts of America with Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project and the West Virginia National Guard, aimed to strengthen Scouts’ duty to country. It provided the BSA’s youth an opportunity to interact with members of our nation’s military and political leaders, such as U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV) amd Major General James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG).
Other event highlights included the presentation of a Stand Up and Play wheelchair to Ernie Butler, director of sports and recreation for Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as live music from Doyle Dykes, Aaron Tippin, and the WVNG band.
Veterans’ Appreciation Day gave Scouts the chance to honor veterans at a High-Adventure Base that offers one-of-kind adventures. But how do you think Scouts can show their appreciation for veterans year round? Let us know in the comment below.