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Stand-up Scouters: Teaching paddleboarding, enjoying every minute

Stand-up paddleboarding is so new that when most of the instructors arrived during staff week, none had set foot on a paddleboard.

Not that you could tell this morning when I visited the area staffed by a knowledgeable, passionate, hilarious group of Scouters from Alaska, Baltimore, Minnesota, Michigan and Arizona. That group included Connie Knie, a Scouter from Michigan who wasn’t shy about describing her stand-up paddleboarding expertise.

“Aside from maybe sailing, they could not have put me in a venue where I have less knowledge,” she said.

That’s why Continue reading

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A real race car: Scouts build it, Scott Lagasse Jr. drives it

Now this is what I call hands-on fun.

Right this second up in the Cloud area at the 2013 National Jamboree, Scouts are building a real race car, rivet by rivet, for Team SLR (Scott Lagasse Racing), the folks behind the BSA No. 8 race car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

But this is more than just a model car destined for a museum or a garage somewhere.

This race car the Scouts and Venturers build at the jamboree is headed to the dirt track in two weeks. Yes, Team SLR mechanics will check the car over before the green flag is waved. But still, merely taking the wheel behind a car built by Scouts might raise a few eyebrows in the racing world. But that’s the point of this first-of-its-kind effort in a special exhibit in the Technology Quest area of the Cloud.

“I don’t know of anyone in the racing world doing it,” driver Scott Lagasse Jr. told me. “They’re gonna say we’re nuts. Continue reading

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Scouts go ga-ga for the Israeli version of dodgeball

Here’s one for the “unexpected jamboree moments” file.

Yesterday, I happened upon the scene shown in these photos. As the attached sign informed me, it’s ga-ga, an Israeli version of dodgeball played in an octagonal pen.

Participants try to hit other competitors below the knee with a large rubber ball. If you’re hit, you’re out; last ga-ga player standing wins.

This is what I love about jamborees. You hear all about rock climbing, zip-lining, and skateboarding going in, but nobody mentions ga-ga. It’s just another jamboree surprise awaiting Scouts and Venturers around each turn.

I’ll bet most of the Scouts in the octagon yesterday didn’t intend to come over and play ga-ga, but now just try to keep them away.

Continue reading

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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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Money for Eagle projects: Lowe’s grant program back for 2013-2014

Eagle Scout projects make a visible difference in the community, but they aren’t cheap to complete.

So that’s why Lowe’s, the home-improvement giant with more than 1,700 stores, has teamed up with the BSA and local Scout councils to give selected Eagle Scout candidates $100 grants for their projects.

The grant program debuted in 2012 to great success. Last year, more than 3,000 Life Scouts received $100 each toward their Eagle projects. That’s a generous gift of $300,000 from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation.

Well, there’s good news for future Eagles and their parents. The BSA announced this week that the grant program will continue beginning this month. And it’s grown, as well. This time, Lowe’s is offering 3,600 grants to deserving Eagle projects.

In 2012, councils received and distributed the cards. This time, however, things will run a little differently. 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