Participants chose different superlatives to describe the 2001 National Scout Jamboree, but everyone agreed that the historic gathering was one unforgettable Scouting experience.
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:
‘THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO’
Each morning, 40,000 copies of the Jamboree Todaynewspaper 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 thread—the brotherhood of Scouting—brings “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.
A TROOP’S JAMBOREE JOURNAL ON THE WEB
On a special Web site for Jamboree Troop 1013 of the Southeast Wisconsin Council, Racine, Wis.,www.acronet.net/~troop544/jamboree.html#archiveJ, Webmaster Karen Spaeth posted reports from her son, Andrew, along with news relayed by other troop parents from their sons at the jamboree. Below are some excerpts:
Thursday, July 19
Jamboree Troop 1013 officially hit the foggy road at 7:50 a.m., our impressive group of Scouts eagerly embarking on what is certain to be one of the most memorable highlights of their Scouting experiences … .
Saturday, July 21
… our Scouts had a whirlwind day touring Washington D.C.: the well-known monuments (Vietnam Veterans, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Korean War Veterans, and Franklin D. Roosevelt) and across the Potomac to Arlington National Cemetery—the John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy graves, Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknowns, where they saw the changing of the guard … .
Thursday, July 26
From Scout Evan R.: “Today Greg D. and I … had so much fun [scuba diving] that we went back two times … During the opening ceremony some Army paratroopers parachuted in [and] there were bands that played different types of music. The two words to describe my jamboree experience thus far are ‘fun’ and ‘cool.'”
Saturday, July 28
Andrew S. is having an absolutely great time. His favorite activity so far has been scuba diving … he’s [also] done snorkeling, rappelling, and the 5-K run last night. He said that the opening show was just super, [and] the boys agreed that they preferred the girl bands (specifically, one called 3 of Hearts) … .
Sunday, July 29
Due to heavy rain, Sunday night’s jamboree closing show was postponed … While Andrew was at church services this morning, the water began rising back at the Troop 1013 camp. The Cheesehead Patrol (Andrew’s) was hit the hardest, [and] they had to relocate their tents. Now “Lake Cheesehead” sits in their former campsite.
Monday, July 30
From Troop 1013 Scoutmaster Jim Rohde: “All the boys in the troop received their five [jamboree participation patch] segments. That made me eligible to receive the ‘5 for 5’ Scoutmaster Award. I am really proud of the boys for completing all their segments. This is an award that I will cherish all my life!”
Wednesday, Aug. 1
… Monday night’s [rescheduled] closing show was excellent, though they were disappointed that [President Bush and] Miss America were unable to appear. The fireworks were superb, however! Andrew said that at one point, the sky was entirely filled with gold fireworks … .
National jamboree is over! With their memories of a fantastic 2001 jamboree, Troop 1013 planned to hit the road for home at 10:00 a.m.
HOMETOWN NEWS CORRESPONDENTS REPORT ON THE JAMBOREE
More than 900 jamboree Scouts from 50 states served as correspondents for their hometown print and electronic media. The edited excerpts below show how they chronicled the jamboree experience, from covering travel to Fort A.P. Hill, to accounts of daily activities and highlights, to the inspirational closing moments. In all, Hometown News correspondents filed more than 800 stories, including more than 300 with pictures.
TRAVELING TO THE JAMBOREE
Troop 725 and many other Scouts toured places such as New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
“People have always told me that in Arlington Cemetery, you can see graves stretched to the horizon; until now I never took it seriously,” says Josh Loper, senior patrol leader of Troop 725.
As far as you can see—mass graves, and small white headstones donated by the government, with only the name and rank of the soldier etched on them. Arlington Cemetery left most Scouts with a tear running down their cheeks … .
The last day of the troop’s vacation was by far the best—Busch Gardens, a huge amusement park, with the wildest roller coasters around … .
Fort A.P. Hill was flooded with tents, tarps, and equipment housing more than 40,000 Scouts, leaders, and staff for the 2001 National Scout Jamboree, [including] three troops full of Scouts from Duluth, Superior, and other cities and towns along the northland … .
The days were full of activities as the temperature soared into the upper 90s. Scouts participated in air rifle-shooting, archery, bicycle motocross, rappelling tower, trapshooting, scuba diving, fishing, snorkeling, and more! …
The Scouts are all excited about the arrival of President George W. Bush … In the meantime they are … maintaining a good attitude, and going to the [jamboree’s many] activities … .
BACKSTAGE AT THE OPENING ARENA SHOW
I got a chance to interview the group “3 of Hearts,” a trio that has a country, pop, and gospel atmosphere to their music. They said they have accomplished their main goal of [achieving] fame and are just enjoying their new life, [and] they love the Boy Scouts of America.
Backstage, I also had the opportunity to interview the Osmonds Second Generation … [who] are all Eagle Scouts … .
Two other entertainers were Jana, an American Indian singer and dancer, and Tropic Zone, a Latin group made up of two males, Ricky and Joe, and one gorgeous female, Maria.
It was an amazing sight to see these entertainers backstage—an experience I shall never forget.
WHO NEEDS SUNLIGHT?
[Late on Thursday afternoon] as it started pouring down rain, Scouts were making dashes to the nearest covering. The first five minutes were utter chaos.
Yet by the end of the hour, Scouts were already out in the rain with swimsuits. That’s when the fun began.
“First one to the other side wins!” screamed a muddy Jerome Boettcher as he led his troop through a gigantic mud pit … .
Others had made their own mud pits and slid over them on their stomachs. Grayson Reed’s troop held a football game in a huge, wet field. Countless wrestling matches took place in front of campsites. Other troops held muddy games of Jambo-ball.
This shows that even though the sun was hidden all day, Scouts can still have a good time.
Scoutopia [is] an experience [that] will change your life … View screens, video clips, flip charts—audio and video seamlessly combine to give the viewers the maximum effect from the experience. The waiting line is long … for a very good reason … .
Actors narrate and guide the audience through this unreal yet fascinating reality, where values are clearly conveyed to the audience, unlike anything this reporter has ever seen before.
The experience ends with the audience having the opportunity to sign the Wall of Commitment, sponsored/staffed by the U.S. Marine Corps. Everyone is encouraged to commit to doing one good thing to better himself before the end of the jamboree … .
Those who leave Scoutopia are forever changed … for the better. One will never think about life in the same way again … .
2001 JAMBOREE GOES OUT WITH A BANG
[At the final arena show, following the videotaped address by President Bush,] the light on the stage came on again, revealing 12 torches, one for each point of the Scout Law. Scouts standing in front of the torches gave speeches on the importance of each point to them … When the speeches were finished, every Scout in the audience was holding a lighted candle [which they] were asked to put out and place in their left shirt pocket, close to their heart. Then the sky lit up with the most beautiful display of fireworks from three different areas firing off at the same time.
Today is the last day … Scouts are preparing to leave to go back to their hometowns and their families … The 2001 National Scout Jamboree will not be forgotten easily. It truly was the experience of a lifetime.
PRESIDENT’S ABSENCE DOESN’T DIM THE IMPACT OF HIS MESSAGE
Heavy rains on July 29 forced a one-day postponement of the jamboree closing arena show, at which President George W. Bush was slated to make a personal appearance. When the president’s schedule did not allow him to attend the rescheduled event the following night, the audience of Scouts and visitors viewed a videotaped presentation of his address on the arena’s giant stage screen.
The president praised Scouts for their commitment to values. The Scout uniform “is a sign to all that you believe in high standards, and that you are trying to live up to them every single day,” he said. “As you do that, you bring credit to the Scout uniform and credit to your country. And I want you to know your country is proud of you.”
The president also acknowledged the important role of Scout leaders in helping to instill values in youth. “I want to thank the adults here who have shown good values, who have taken the responsibility upon themselves to build the wisdom and character of our young people,” he said. “I want to thank all the Scoutmasters who set a good example and help Scouts learn the values that give direction to their lives.”
In praising Scouting’s long history of community service, the president urged Scouts to continue that tradition, because “every time you do a Good Turn, this becomes a better country. There are needs in every community, and those needs can be met one heart, one soul, at a time.”
The values of Scouting are truly timeless, the president declared, noting that “Times and challenges change, yet the values of Scouting will never change. Scouts of any era would recognize every word that you live by today, because those words have always defined Scouting … .
“Every society depends on trust and loyalty, on courtesy and kindness, on bravery and reverence. These are the values of Scouting and these are the values of America.”