Once every four years since 1981, a tent city of more than 40,000 Scouts, leaders, and staff has materialized for 10 days at Virginia's Fort A.P. Hill. On July 23, the 2001 National Scout Jamboree appeared on schedule.
The depth and complexity of this quadrennial Scouting experience was demonstrated by an endless list of mind-boggling statistics. Some examples:
- 32,400 Scouts and leaders and 7,700 staff were housed in 17,000 tents.
- 1.1 million meals were served over 10 days in 3,300 patrol kitchens and 27 dining rooms.
- Megaquantities of food were consumed, including 76,000 hamburgers, 90,000 pancakes, 14 miles of submarine sandwiches, 10 tons of beef stew, 59,000 gallons of milk, 479,000 eggs, and 240,000 sausage links.
'There's so much to do'
Each morning, 40,000 copies of the Jamboree Today newspaper were delivered so that participants could read about daily events, incidents, personalities, and highlights.
But no newspaper or any other form of media could possibly cover the endless number of activities, exhibits, demonstrations, and other programs available each day. (At four visitor information centers, a staff of 54 fielded more than 80,000 queries from participants and visitors trying to find their way around the jamboree.)
"There's so much to do," Scout Jebb Huskinson of Jamboree Troop 611, Grand Teton Council, Idaho, told a reporter from the local Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. "It's kind of overwhelming."
Four action centers offered activities like air rifle-shooting, archery, trapshooting, pioneering, rappelling, an obstacle course, and a BMX dirt bicycle track. Aquatic opportunities included canoeing, rafting, racing shell, kayaking, scuba, and snorkeling.
In a 50-acre wooded section, the Environmental and Conservation Area featured exhibits by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and 19 other government agencies.
The Merit Badge Midway provided hands-on opportunities to earn all or parts of more than 70 badges. Subjects ranged from A (American Heritage, Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Astronomy, Atomic Energy, Auto Mechanics, Aviation) to W (Weather, Wilderness Survival, Wood Carving).
At the Total Outdoor Adventure Place (TOAP), Scouts could learn about hiking and camping skills, techniques, and equipment. On the Disabilities Awareness Trail, they could participate in wheelchair basketball and other activities to experience the nature of different physical and learning disabilities.
Examining the meanings of duty
The jamboree theme of "Strong Values, Strong Leaders" came to life at Scoutopia, a live performance created and produced by the Order of the Arrow in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps. Staged seven times a day in a 600-seat indoor theater, the dramatic interactive experience challenged audience members to examine the meaning of duty in their daily lives.
Those who saw Scoutopia put it at or near the top of all their jamboree experiences, and some Scouts and leaders posted their impressions on the Scoutopia Web site.
"Scoutopia is the most impressive show aimed at young adults I have ever seen," a jamboree assistant Scoutmaster observed. "Scoutopia was the best part of my jambo experience," a Scout declared.
Another type of dramatic moment was experienced by all jamboree participants, courtesy of Mother Nature. On July 26, thunderstorms and high winds swept into the Fort A.P. Hill area about 4 p.m., forcing a jamboree-wide emergency alert requiring everyone to seek shelter.
During the storm, two Scouts were injured by lightning strikes, and a third had to flee his tent when lightning set it on fire. Neither of the injured Scouts received burns; both were treated at a local hospital, one returning to the jamboree later in the evening and the other staying overnight for observation.
Heavy rain returned on July 29, forcing the postponement of the evening's closing arena show and canceling a program that included an address by President George W. Bush, entertainment by singer Louise Mandrell, and an appearance by Miss America 2001, Angela Perez Baraquio.
A show to remember
The rescheduled show on the following night featured a videotaped address by the president. Although other celebrities were absent, the candle-lighting ceremony celebrating the values of the Scout Oath and Law provided everyone with a moment not likely to be forgotten.
The candle ceremony also served to remind Scouts, leaders, and staff how each jamboree had a special magic: a spirit that is not always easy to define but certain to stay with each participant.
In an article in Jamboree Today, Hometown News correspondent Ari Erickson, a Scout from Idaho Falls, Idaho, tried to explain the jamboree's lasting impact.
He compared the special jamboree spirit to a "simple piece of string" that Scouts use to weave "a friendship patch"which is "the best and most sought-after patch in the whole world."
At the jamboree, this common threadthe brotherhood of Scoutingbrings "thousands of Scouts together in unity and allows them to become friends," Ari wrote, adding that the experience "will change and shape the lives" of every Scout who was fortunate enough to be a part of the 2001 National Scout Jamboree.
Jon C. Halter is the editor of Scouting magazine.
Scouts from Minnesota's Voyageurs Area Council celebrate
the moment as they join more than 40,000 spectators for
the opening arena show.
As daylight fades, Scouts settle in for an evening of entertainment at the opening arena show
The Aquatics program offers a variety of boating experiences, including Windjammer sailboats
Action Center archery ranges provide a chance to use the newest equipment and receive skilled instruction
The The Hawkeye Area Council's campsite gateway features a walk-through ship
In the International Hosting tent, U.S. Scouts share the universal language of Scouting with their counterparts from England and Scotland
Scouts seek shelter during a jamboree-wide emergency alert caused by heavy winds and thunderstorms
An endless parade of Scouts heads for the opening arena show
Using a canoe rigged for rowing was a new experience for many jamboree Scouts
Wheelchair basketball was a popular Disabilities Awareness Trail event
Finding the Railroading merit badge area was easy
Matt Madden, of West Palm Beach, Fla., performs at the Order of the Arrow's American Indian Village
At the U.S. Fish & Wildlife exhibit, Dr. Gary Stolz tells visiting Scouts about his blind barred owl