After I posted this heartfelt letter from a mom about her son’s jamboree experience, even more positive jamboree anecdotes poured in.
I heard from Scoutmasters, Venturing advisors, visitors and even members of local West Virginia communities. Every last one was a glowing review of the BSA’s first jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
This isn’t me cherry-picking the positive emails; the overwhelming message in my inbox shows that while some of you were initially apprehensive about the 2013 jamboree, that feeling faded fast. In the end, it seems, nearly everyone left with indelible memories and a new connection with the Scouting movement.
Here are some excerpts from five of my favorite emails:
Visitor seeks out that elusive patch
I have two Scouts: John, a 12-year-old First Class Scout, and Colin, a Cub Scout.
Though attending the 2013 jamboree as a participant was not in the cards, we did plan a voyage from Michigan to West Virginia to visit the jamboree and take in as a tourists the sights around the Summit.
Our day at the Summit included the collection of the totem pole patches. Colin was all about this. Toward the end of the day we learned the Twitter patch was gone for the day. He made quick work of asking any and everyone if they had one to give him. It was “give,” because he knew little about the fine art of “trading” and didn’t come with an arsenal to trade with.
At 4:50, we decided we could not look any longer for the Twitter patch. The last of the visitor buses were loading to leave, and we needed to be on the bus. Bummed is only half of the equation.
Once back at the entrance, we decided to slip into the trading post store. There we quickly filled our basket with goodies. At the checkout, Colin again asked about the patch. A super-great lady staff member said she would get us one and mail it. So we gave her our information and loaded the bus.
For a couple days Colin and I discussed whether we thought we would get the patch in the mail. Very optimistic, Colin always answered yes.
Guess what came in the mail today? Yep, the Twitter patch. No return name or address to thank the nice lady. So here is our thank you to you all for giving even visitors like us a good time and a great glimpse at all the Summit has to offer.
— Elizabeth Eads
Mount Hope, W.Va., resident impressed
I live in Mount Hope and travel the roads in and out where more than 250 buses and 6,000 cars were.
In the surrounding areas before the jamboree, people were saying harsh things about the traffic: “get up early to get to work,” “leave late to avoid all the traffic,” etc.
Didn’t happen! All exits were covered by state police, and the traffic moved so nicely I was hardly aware anything was going on.
The five days the Scouts did community service, our Community Center in Mount Hope was the center of their attention. My daughter was an overseer of one of the groups, and she had nothing but the highest praise and regard for them. Working next door at our church’s benevolent building, I watched these boys and young men work harder than most older men.
They were polite, mannerly, considerate and a joy to be around. They were serious what they were doing, and the adults could not praise them enough. We had troops from California, Utah and Florida.
I wish we could have done more for them in our small community. Speaking not only for myself but others that encountered the Scouts, we pray blessings upon them and their return in the near future.
I am 74 years young, and I have never seen anything run so smooth. I hope the young men took something back home of our state, West Virginia, our town, Mount Hope, and our people, true Mountaineers. Also that they had a goodly share of southern hospitality.
— Cora Sue Barret
Bones, but not spirits, broken
On the last full day of Jamboree activities, my two sons Zachary (Venture Scout) and Wesley (Boy Scout) steal me away from my post as a Technology Quest staffer to run over to the nearby BMX track. Seems they want to show off their BMX skills.
Not 20 minutes later, we’re about to get a free ride down the mountain compliments of an Army ambulance. The medical staff bundles Zachary, with a broken collarbone, and me into the back of an Army ambulance and closes the door. Maybe two minutes later, the door reopens and the doctor sticks his head inside and said with a strained look: “Mr. Carter, I think your other son just got hurt.”
I hop out of the back of the ambulance and as I round the rear of the vehicle I see what looks like the entire triage staff staring at me with shock on their faces. This entourage escorts me through the tent to the last intake bed and there is Wesley in great distress himself, with a very broken radius (forearm). Ten minutes, two broken bones. The nurse asks, “Yours?”
When I confirm, you could almost hear all the facial muscles popping as the crowd of health staff does their best not to laugh. They’re very entertained. They help Wes join his brother in the ambulance, and we get our first ride in a vehicle in two weeks.
We get first-class care. Everyone in the jamboree hospital just has to come over and see the “broken brothers” with their own eyes. We’re apparently a first for jamboree. After about a jillion other people take pictures of us, I beg the boys to smile so I could take a picture to send to their mother, panicking at home in North Carolina.
I think the best part of the story is that, despite the broken bones, both my sons insist they return to their units for the last night at jamboree. They want to travel home with their units. After the shock wears off, their main anguish is fear that they’d have to be sent home immediately. However, when the doc tells them that they could stay at jamboree for the last night, the smiles return.
Kudos to the leaders of units F603 and D203 for fostering such a wonderfully inclusive environment for their youth!
— Philip Carter
Venturer has life-changing time
My daughter, a Venturer from Ohio, just returned from 2013 National Jamboree.
I asked her upon her return what she did. There where many things she wanted to do going in, and she did almost none of them due to weather.
Here is the thing: This is not a complaint letter; it is a letter about fellowship. My daughter spent the whole jamboree meeting new people, and all her stories are about the different people from the U.S. and around the world that she hung out with. Slopping in the mud and just being crazy (Scout Crazy, I mean — there is a difference).
I tell new Scouts on any campout that it is what you make of it. If it rains (it always rains), fine. If it’s hot, fine. If the food is not the greatest, fine. Make memories!
Jamboree did not happen without a lot of hard work by many volunteers. Things could have gone better, but the big question every Scout should ask themselves is: Did you do your best? Did you make somebody else smile? Did you make somebody else a memory?
Thank you to the staff who worked so hard!
— Steve Estep
Day of Service unearths surprises
As a reader of Boys’ Life and grandmother of a Cub Scout subscriber, I would like to contribute some feedback on the Day of Service and how it helped our town of Williamsburg, W.Va., during the jamboree in July.
We had two projects out of the 49 in Greenbrier County. One was painting at the community center, a closed school building, and 37 gallons of paint were applied in three days. Twenty gallons of that were applied by an amazing group of Scouts from Alabama.
The second project was an archeological dig at a pioneer home/fort of William McCoy, which was recently discovered and had never been researched before.
We had to clear the property from debris before the Scouts arrived. The archeologists were educators from the University of Kentucky and Concord University. They were used to working with college students and found the Scouts were a fantastic group of inquisitive workers. We unearthed more than 50 pounds of artifacts in the dig — some really cool things like clay marbles, chips of English dishes, some sewing straight pins, tons of bits and pieces, and even some arrowheads.
The troops that participated were from NYC/Brooklyn, Northern VA/ DC area, Indianapolis, Dallas, Wisconsin and Hawaii.
— Carolyn Stephens