My top 10 jamboree memories

After 10 phenomenal days at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree earlier this month, I have just one regret: I couldn’t see it all.

I never rolled by the skate park or BMX track, didn’t take a dip in the Pools, and bailed on whitewater rafting. (Fortunately, the fine folks at the Summit Blog and Jamboree Today covered all that and more.)

No two jamboree experiences were alike, and so rather than focusing on what mine lacked, here’s a look back at my top 10 jamboree memories. As for everything I didn’t get to see? The countdown to the 2017 jamboree has already begun.

20130721-171122.jpg10. Helping break a world record — maybe

Thousands of Scouts, Scouters and Venturers assembled in a light drizzle to attempt to set the Guinness World Record for “most people keeping beach balls in the air.”

Read the post.

20130720-002827.jpg9. All-weather fun with the Jamboree Jazz Band

In Charleston, W.Va., rain clouds formed during the Jamboree Jazz Band’s performance, but the Scouts played on. Raindrops fell at an angle, soaking the tuba, trombone and trumpet sections, but the Scouts played on. At one point, the power was shut down because of a lightning risk in the area, but the Scouts played on. To say the band played the lights out would be accurate on two levels.

Read the post.

20130717-182537.jpg8. Scouts going ga-ga for Israeli dodgeball

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.

Read the post. 

20130715-130941.jpg7. Watching Troop D424 set up its campsite

Over here, Scouts unfold and assemble cots with robot-like precision. Over there, tents take shape in no time. 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.

Read the post.

20130716-144549.jpg6. Fox hunting with Scouts from North Carolina

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. 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.

Read the post.

20130717-174417.jpg5. Giving back with Venturers from Hawaii and Colorado

I spent most of a day 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. This is just one of hundreds of Messengers of Peace Day of Service projects.

Read the post.

20130722-192107.jpg4. Shooting arrows with Matt from Georgia

While waiting in line for action archery at the Bows, I met Matt, a Scout from Troop A210 in Georgia. He challenged me to a friendly competition to see who could hit the higher number of targets at this difficult but exciting activity at the 2013 National Jamboree.

Read the post.

20130720-133254.jpg3. Meeting Hunter, my blog’s biggest fan

It’s not every day you see a stranger holding a sign with your name on it. In fact, I can say it’s never happened to me — until one day, strolling near the AT&T Summit Stadium this afternoon, I happened across Hunter, a Scout from C346 out of Georgia. Turns out he’s my biggest fan, and I couldn’t be more humbled.

Read the post.

9329345503_08c23c9056_b2. Mike Rowe inspires thousands

At the jamboree’s stadium show, Eagle Scout Mike Rowe rewrote some bad advice, telling the crowd of tens of thousands of Scouts, Scouters and Venturers that the key is to “work smart and hard.” And he needs the help of all of us in the Boy Scouts of America.

Read the post and see the video.

20130725-122525.jpg1. Receiving a post-jamboree letter from a Scout mom

The jamboree was a success, but rather than taking my word for it, now you can hear directly from one Hudson Valley Council mom who “spent $1,600 and many hours of meetings and travel preparing for an event that I was sure would be too strenuous, too long and too difficult for my often-scattered and unfocused 12-year-old son.”

Read her letter.

What were your favorite memories?

Share them by leaving a comment below.


  1. 5. Doing a Scouting cheer led by the King of Sweden

    4. Meeting and congratulating Scout Garrett Coletti of Las Cruces, NM, a member of Troop A204 who earned his Eagle Scout rank at the Jamboree.

    3. A fellow staffer from the Ropes gave me his banana one day for lunch at the Summit Center flag circle. Sub Camps did not get bananas like staffers in Echo did. I needed the potassium, the banana and the gesture re-energized me.

    2. Sitting in the pouring rain with my son (Highland Games) and daughter (Venturer) during Sunday worship.

    1.Working with all the fellow Scouting volunteers, both sub camp staff and Troop leaders, at sub camp Alpha 2 Fire Creek.

  2. Bryan thanks for this great info! Both my boys got to experience this jambo for the first time and have not stopped talking about the great times they had! They meet Navy seals that biked with them national guard’s that scuba dived with them! This was truely an experience they will never forget! I want to thank the team at Hudson valley council who gave their time to make sure this was the greatest adventure! And I can tell you it was. My boys now have 40 new friends and a life time of great memories. Thank you.
    Kelly and Gerry Pizarro

  3. 5. Getting a Big thank you from the regional airport for clearing out brush and painting new landing strip markers. He told us that it was nice knowing that there are still good people around looking to do good.
    4. Seeing a boy who recently went through foot surgery get up on a paddle board when he thought he wasn’t capable.
    3. Seeing scouts picking up trash when not asked that wasn’t theirs
    2.Watching boys work together to accomplish our day of service.
    1. Meeting Lord Baden Powell’s Great Grand Daughter, and getting my sons and I picture with her.

    • Unfortunately, disappointment is a fact of life. I’ve experienced it and I’m sure you have to! Hopefully, something can be learned from these occurrences. As to the zip-line and other extremely popular experiences, I would suggest a cut-off of the waiting line and use that as the stopping point for that activity whether it’s time or not. This way scouts won’t waste hours in line only to be disappointed when they are turned away. Would somebody please pass this on to the planning staff for the next Jamboree?

    • What a positive attitude to have this as a part of his top 10! I’m glad that one experience didn’t him down.

    • My son stood in line and missed an event also. It rained almost every day. He missed his day on the ropes because of the rain. He was muddy most of the time and almost all of his clothes were soaked.

      And he said he would go back tomorrow and can’t wait to try High Adventure one day at the Summit.

      We can teach our kids that life is often a half full glass. Or half empty. Just remember that our kids learn lessons on life from how their parents respond. It may be time for some to reassess.

    • Great for you son! I bet it showed you a level of maturity you did not think he had. Scouting gives our children so many opportunities to learn life lessons and learning how to cope with adversity and disappointment is just one of them. Awesome!

  4. My oldest son said one of his favorite memories was of the small band of scouts who came around and sang to/with the other scouts. This group was comprised of a violinist, a ukelele player, and banjo player. My youngest would probably say winning the chance to ride the big zip!

  5. Four Jamboree; etc., and Sixty Years in Scouting! The Friends; Family; Memories are Real Treasures! CMB, NESA Life Member.

  6. My first Jamboree, first time on staff, working with an inspirational bunch of Scouters. My best memories are of hearing youth who had an awesome time, telling others what wonderful experiences they had. I came to serve, and ended up volunteering my off-time in other areas that were short-handed. Early on, I heard some frustrated comments that made me even more determined to do everything I could to make it a fun experience for the Scouts. This Jamboree at SBR was a first. There were some bumps (and hills) in the road, but I relished in the glee of smiling Scouts and Venturers who, like me, were in awe at what SBR had to offer. I think the highlight was the mudsliding–youth making lemonade from lemons. That is what Scouting is all about. A few lessons learned and ideas for making the next Jamboree a great experience for all. But in any case, IWTGBTSBR!

  7. My favorite Jamboree memory was all of the patch trading. I started with about 20, now I have almost 50. The last day that the West LA Council was here, I was able to receive their Yu-Gi-Oh Patch set over MUCH haggling and over most of my best patches. I am a 13-year-old Life Scout who had a fantastic time at the Jamboree, and can NOT wait for the 2015 World Jambo in Tokyo, and 2016 Nat. Jamboree.

  8. Awesome article! I had two sons that got to attend #2013Jambo Troop A118 and my husband staffed in D3! all three have great memories and more stories then can be told! They all returned with different patches and trilled they everyone got a two week “vacation” that they got to do their thing on! My son also stood in the zip line to be turned away, all he did was plan an earlier start another day and was able to go that day! He LOVED it and still talks about the experience of Zipline! We all (me included) are making plans to return in 2017, prolly all as staff!! EXCITED! 🙂

  9. Getting to meet Bryan at “Meet the Man” at the Jamboree! It was finally great to get to talk to the man behind Bryan on Scouting!

  10. The scouts are not welcome in Fayette county. They came in with all these promises and delivered none! They pay no property tax which supported the county services in which they used, police, fire and ems. The scouts are also a cover up for hats really going on up on the mountain. Also we have mostly poor kids in the area which will never be able to use anything at the camp.I am pretty sure the scouts bribed a county commissioner to get the tax free property tax. I am not against scouting. I do however question the people who now run the scouts, like the president and so fourth….If the scouts are smart, you need to question these people and look over the finances. Even at that, please get the heck out of Fayette county scouts and NEVER come back!

    • I suppose the hundreds, if not thousands, of construction jobs needed to build the facility are not welcome by you. Or the hundreds of jobs for each summer for the high adventure program. Maybe you are against the use of the local outfitters running rafting for the program, or the tourism and recreation dollars generated from food, gas, and gifts. The facility is a major venue, one that is not going to go away, and should increase in value and revenue generation.

  11. Sitting in the Echo dining hall during a horrendous lightning storm and realizing we are sitting amongst the Chaplain Staff.

    The comeraderie among the Staff who pent every moment trying to deliver a quality program to Scouts, venturers and visitors.

    Looking forward to my 5th Jambo in ’17

  12. As Scoutmaster of Troop A319, I along with my Senior Patrol Leader, created a Dinner Exchange program. This was by far my favorite part of the Jamboree. We sent One whole Patrol, 1 member of the Senior Patrol and 1 Adult Leader to another Troop for dinner each night. We hosted the same number from the other Troop. Scouts ate, talked, traded patches and made new friends. Over the 8 nights we were at the Summit, each Patrol had the opportunity to dine out twice. We even took it to a new level for Breakfast a couple of times and swapped half of the Troop with our neighboring Troops. The boys really loved it and if I am lucky enough to be a Scoutmaster in 2017 I will definitely do it again!

  13. 93 Jambo in FT AP Hill, VA> It rained so hard we had to dig trenches around our tents. Best fireworks show ever. Eating spreadables that on monday we hated but by wednesday we devoured after the snack money ran out. I enjoyed the pin trading. My favorite was one that said yes there is a Kalamazoo, MI. It was a great time. I think I still have my jambo newspapers. Trooping 1728.

  14. Almost 10K scouts and scouters through the stand-up paddle boarding activity; whadda hoot and big bunches of satisfaction! Aquatics staff rock!!

    • 93 jambo
      I was there as well. I never thought i would need a fleece in Virginia in July. Great time!

      • SUP Comment. You must have been on the SUP staff; so was I. Camaraderie on the staff was truly remarkable. The scouts were the best audience an instructor could ask for!

      • I was there in 93 too. That was a crazy 48 hour period. We had a kid get heat exhaustion one day and the next day was being treated for hypothermia.

  15. Mine was having my van towed after I was told I could leave it where it was parked by multiple “head staffers”. Instead halfway through the Jamboree I was summoned to the fox trot headquarters to be given an ultimatum. I let the staff use my van or it will be towed. Then after it was towed (I wouldn’t let them take my van to run errands), it took the staff 2 days to figure out where it was. Then I had to find my own way “off the mountain”, and pay to get it out of impound. Good times, good times.

  16. Surprising my scout by showing up with our foreign exchange student who is a scout in France….and telling them both to have fun on the BMX area. Looking forward to sending 2 more of my scouts to the 2017 jamboree…and who knows, maybe another exchange student.

  17. My first Jamboree, getting to work at both Boulder Cove TP AND Gateway TP, deciding to go back to my tent just before the bottom fell out and missing being struck by lightning in the E4 tent. Watching my incredible doctor perform a MacGyver-like procedure on my foot and waiting for the nurse to boil water over a backpacking stove to sterilize the tools. Getting to see my son while he waited in line at TP. Those odd little pouch lunches. Having two unknown Scouts help me at pre-dawn departure with my luggage during the downpour so I could connect with my troop’s bus.

  18. My favorite time at the 2013 Jamboree was being on the shooting sport staff for high caliber rifles I met a lot of great staffers and being part of such gifted staffers was a great privilege. One of the highlights was meeting a scouter from Columbia, South America he had this large straw hat that you could mold to form a different shape and it would return to its original shape when you wanted it to. I commented how really nice it was not knowing that in Columbia when you like something that belongs to another person that person is obligated by tradition to give it to you. I told him that it was to nice of gift and told him that he should keep it. Well he insisted and I had to except it and thanked him for the hat. A few days later when I was leaving for home I was standing in line to catch the bus to the parking lot at the Jamboree this same scouter came up to say goodbye and he pointed to a 2010 Jamboree stainless cup that I had on my backpack and how he liked it. Well by Columbia tradition I gladly gave it to him. So many memories from the Jamboree but this was the top of my list. I love being a member of the BSA and look forward to the 2017. Jamboree. Trenton Spears Scoutmaster.

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