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Venturers from Hawaii, Colo. complete day of service with a smile

Creating and maintaining the Summit Bechtel Reserve brought jobs and money to West Virginia, a state ranked 47th in per-capita personal income last year.

But now that the Summit is built, that positive impact on the community will only continue to grow thanks to initiatives like the Messengers of Peace Day of Service, which launched today.

I spent most of the day today tagging along with Crew F206, a jamboree unit that combines Venturers from the Maui County Council in Hawaii and the Denver Area Council in Colorado.

Joined by two outstanding Arrowmen from the Order of the Arrow, the group spent four hours creating hiking and biking trails near Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley, W.Va., about 30 minutes from the Summit.

Theirs is just one of hundreds of similar projects that jamboree participants will complete over the next several days. Messengers of Peace Day of Service (or MOPDOS) organizers expect 250,000 man-hours of service during the jamboree.

I know; it’s easy to gloss over that 250,000 number. Yes, it’s clearly a lot, but to really understand the effect of each individual hour, you need to look closer at units like Crew F206. So I did. Continue reading

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At the K2BSA tent, I go fox hunting with Scouts from N.C.

The beeping on Bram’s handheld radio intensified, and then: “I’m getting something!”

Like a trio of bloodhounds, three Scouts from Troop A120 out of Durham, N.C., were off to follow the digital scent.

Eight minutes later, they found their prize: a hidden radio transmitter.

Welcome to ARDF Fox Hunting at the 2013 jamboree’s K2BSA tent. Volunteers there made me an honorary member of the North Carolina team, though I did little more than get in the way.

In fox hunting — part geocaching, part orienteering — Scouts use radios and homemade antennas to locate a hidden “fox,” or transmitter. I can definitely see the appeal.

Continue reading

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Scouts get a first look at Mining in Society merit badge, coming 2014

If the packed tent is any early indication, Mining in Society merit badge will be a hit when it debuts in February 2014.

Scouts attending the 2013 National Jamboree got a sneak peek at the new elective merit badge, set to be released at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City.

Mining has been an important part of our nation since the 19th century.

Today, the industry employes 3 million Americans, directly and indirectly, and is a major contributor to the global mining landscape. Continue reading

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Scouts, Venturers complete the Summit jamboree puzzle

“Think of the Summit as a puzzle,” said BSA Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock. “But the final piece was not in place until yesterday. That piece was the Scouts and Venturers of the Boy Scouts of America.”

The Summit has been a complicated puzzle indeed, one that volunteers and professionals have poured their time, talent and treasure into for years.

Though Scouts and Venturers arrived yesterday, this morning’s opening show was their first chance — and ours — to see just what 40,000 youth and adults look like in one place. Not spread out everywhere on this beautiful property but all united to sing along to West Virginia country band Taylor Made, recite the Scout Oath and cheer as one.

Put yourself in the hiking boots of our National Key Three (Chief Brock, BSA President Wayne Perry, National Commissioner Tico Perez). Or consider for a moment the philanthropists whose generosity, now seen everywhere at the Summit, started as just a crazy dream sketched out on paper. Or think of the volunteers who made dozens of trips out here in the rain and snow, all on their own dime, to watch this place take shape and plan every detail.

Continue reading

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Jamboree stadium show production team praises BSA volunteers

Jim Thweatt has been at the helm of some big productions, including the 125th Anniversary celebration of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, presidential inaugural balls, and the tours of Elton John, James Taylor and Journey.

He’s even done large, elaborate outdoor productions.

But his current project as PRG’s director of video for the shows at the 2013 National Jamboree, including this morning’s opening show, has a special circumstance not found in those other productions.

“We do big outdoor shows, but it’s the volunteers that make this one different,” says Thweatt, seen on the right in the photo above. “Everybody has been really helpful.” Continue reading

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The first Venturers arrive at the jamboree, don’t miss a beat

Early this morning, I watched history be made.

For the first time ever, Venturers joined the jamboree fun.

As buses streamed in, green-shirted young men and women hauled off their gear and made the uphill hike toward Basecamp Foxtrot. Identifying jamboree shoulder patches as the Venturers rushed past me proved a daunting task, but I spotted crews from councils in South Texas, Baltimore, Denver, Heart of Ohio, South Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Seattle and Louisiana.

Once they reached the top of what I’m calling Foxtrot Hill, a panorama of West Virginia wonderment awaited them. They might have the steepest hike to camp of any jamboree participants, but they’re rewarded with the best view at the Summit.

For Erin Carrigan (pictured above, center), president of Crew F807 out of the Baltimore Area Council, the 2013 jamboree is the culmination of a year of hard work.
Continue reading

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From Jamboree Troop D424, a lesson in efficient campsite setup

“OK, Spartan patrol and Unicorn patrol: You guys start setting up tents,” says Chris Schwartz, senior patrol leader of jamboree Troop D424 out of the West Tennessee Area Council.

“Phoenix patrol and Cougars: cots and kitchen stuff,” he continues. “And leadership corps, you fill in where needed.”

Just like that, three dozen Scouts spring into action. Over here, Scouts unfold and assemble cots with robot-like precision. Over there, tents take shape in no time. Nobody cares which tent or cot will be theirs, only that every tent, cot and dining area gets assembled before anyone unpacks their personal gear.

Troop D424 represents another impressive example of a boy-led troop getting things done without intervention from adults. But there’s more that caught my eye: Troop D424 is comprised of 12 different troops back home, meaning most of these Scouts met for the first time at pre-jamboree meetings. Continue reading

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BSA Chief conducts the Jamboree Band

Forty-one years after he was a high school band director, Wayne Brock hasn’t lost his touch.

Late this morning, the Boy Scouts of America’s Chief Scout Executive took over and led the band in a couple of tunes, including the classic “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

George Pinchock, the Jamboree Band’s official director, stepped aside for the Chief’s turn. Pinchock even presented Mr. Brock with an official Jamboree Band Director training certificate. After all, what Scouting position is complete without a little training certification?

The Chief looked comfortable in front of the group, moving his arms in time with the beat and accentuating key moments in the songs with a forceful pump of his fist.

Nice job to our Chief for a moment these young musicians won’t soon forget.

More photos after the jump… Continue reading

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Parent-son (and now parent-daughter) jamboree experiences are tough to beat

I’ve never had a jamboree experience without my dad, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

My dad, Don, and I attended or served on staff together at the 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010 jamborees. And as you can see in the photo above taken backstage at the stadium a few moments ago, we’re both here in 2013, marking our fifth straight jamboree together.

It’s hard to top a parent-son jamboree experience. You get to experience the magic together, and you both return speaking the same “jamboree language.” Countless stories with my dad start with the words, “Remember that time at jamboree when …” And we often quote that official jamboree video from long ago where a guy juggles before saying, “Jamboreeeeee’s a ball!”

Continue reading

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One day before the start, the Summit overflows with potential energy

The 2013 National Jamboree is a sprinter on the starting blocks, muscles flexed, brimming with the potential energy of things to come. Can you feel it?

Tomorrow morning, the first buses arrive onsite, and that potential energy becomes kinetic. You’ll see it manifesting itself on zip-lines, BMX tracks, skate parks and climbing walls. Friendships will be formed, patches swapped and lives changed (that’s no exaggeration).

But today, things are comparatively quiet. There are bridges waiting to be crossed (literally) and merit badge instructors awaiting their Scout students. Colorful dragon boats, with paint still gleaming, bob idly on a calm lake. The skate park doesn’t have a scratch on it.

Everything is ready; all we need are the Scouts, Venturers and leaders who arrive tomorrow.

I got here today, and even though I was here last year around this time, I recognized little. Continue reading