2017 National Jamboree closes with tunes, a bang — and a message to take home

Photo by Tom Copeland

Maybe it was the culmination of 10 days spent having the time of their lives and forming lifelong friendships.

Maybe it was the inspirational message from an Eagle Scout survivalist who told Scouts and Venturers to do what they love — not just what pays the most money.

Or perhaps it was the rocking musical guest or breathtaking fireworks and laser show.

Whatever did the trick, one thing is clear: the 2017 National Jamboree closing show was a sensational success. The Thursday night Farewell Show left everyone energized for future Scouting adventures.

Photo by Kevin Shaw

New best friends

What a difference less than a week makes. The opening show on Saturday night, featuring musical guest X Ambassadors and motivational speaker Inky Johnson, was executed excellently.

The Scouts and Venturers had an awesome time, but many had met only days before. By Thursday, with another five Jamboree days under their green web belts, the Scouts seemed to have grown closer together.

During the pre-show, the crowd sang together — “Don’t Stop Believing” was especially popular — and put their arms around each other, swaying in rhythm with the music.

Clearly these young people have bonded over the week, no doubt experiencing all four stages of team development without even knowing it: forming, storming, norming, performing.

Photo by Megan Donaldson

Rules for life

Eagle Scout, reality TV host and survival expert Creek Stewart, whom I’ve covered on this blog before, was the night’s motivational speaker.

He told the Scouts and Venturers that all of his life’s success started with the Wilderness Survival merit badge.

“The Boy Scouts have been with me and my story since the absolute very beginning,” he said.

He encouraged the young people to do what they love — even if it doesn’t pay the most money. He then discussed these tips:

  • Some people will think you’re crazy, but push forward anyway.
  • What makes you feel most alive probably has something to do with your passion.
  • Bring your Boy Scout pocketknife with you to college.
  • Do things other people are not willing to do.
  • Leave no trace in the woods, but leave a big trace in the world.
  • A Scout is not perfect but should strive for perfection.
  • Never forget your roots in Scouting.

Creek’s new show, SOS: How to Survive, begins next month on the Weather Channel.

Photo by Christopher Golden

Music you can sing to

It was the Jamboree’s best-kept secret. All week Scouts and Venturers had been speculating about the identity of Thursday night’s mystery musical guest. I tried multiple times to get someone to give me the scoop, but nobody was talking.

Finally, the rock band Plain White T’s was announced, and the crowd took their feet for a rocking, eight-song show.

We learned that the band’s drummer, De’Mar Hamilton, was a Boy Scout and that lead singer Tom Higgenson “always wanted to be a Boy Scout.”

The band saved its most famous song, “Hey There Delilah,” for the encore.

Photo by David Burke

A surprise in the skies

A closing show isn’t a closing show without some fireworks, and this year’s display outdid any I’ve seen before.

Set to a playlist of patriotic songs and fast-paced pop hits, the show included lasers, as well as fireworks launched from two separate locations. At one point in the grand finale there must have been at least 50 fireworks going off simultaneously.

Scouts and Venturers walked back to their campsites smiling — and with plenty of stories to tell their family and friends when they get home.

Photo by James G Parker


  1. Thanks for the blog I can now read since I’ve left the Summit and finally decent wifi bandwidth by being in a hotel.

  2. You can spin the closing stadium show (and opening show for that matter) any way you can want, but as evidenced by the audible groans when both X Ambassadors and Plain White T’s were announces speaks volumes. While the two shows overall were okay, the musical acts this year were terrible, and definitely not of the caliber of past Jamboree shows. The acts weren’t kept secret as a big surprise, it was to get participants to attend. A great many would have skipped the shows if they had known of the low quality of the bands. As one Scout mentioned afterwards, teasing the crowd with the “guess tonight’s band” slides and then not having one of those bands was like offering kids candy and instead giving them rotten garlic.

    • Gary – In general, I agree with a lot of what you say above. I know that many of the boys in my unit were hoping for Imagine Dragons for the final show. And the lead singer for the X Ambassadors encouraged attendees to “…tell him [President Trump] what you think” at the address the President was to give a few days later – a true “shut up and sing” moment if there ever was one for the X Ambassadors front man. At the same time, though, President Trump didn’t make any easier the process of getting higher-grade talent to perform at future Jamborees.

      Even so, I thought the closing show was quite good, and it provided one of my sons with one of his first experiences of a professional live music performance. Could it have been better? Sure. The thing I want to take away from this, though, is that relatively minor quibbles with the musical acts shouldn’t detract from the awesome scale, and overall very good execution, of one of the greatest youth-building events put on anywhere in the world.

    • I thought the closing stadium show was very good. The Jamboree Band was a great touch and the parade of flags was a great opening. (The Jamboree Band could not be heard at the earlier shows since it was not amplified.) The weakest link in the line up was the hosts, Luke and Cathy, who were stiff, lacked stage presence, and given a weak script. I am no expert on the music that our teenage scouts prefer, but I thought Plain White T’s was good and enjoyed the music which was totally unfamiliar to me. The fireworks were exceptional and really capped the event.

      If scouts would have “skipped the shows if they had know of the low quality of the bands,” I have to ask why they were at the National SCOUT Jamboree.” This was not a concert series. It was a stadium show at a scout event that included a music performance. I am aware that some scouts did not attend the closing show and I think they missed a great show and time. It was a fun time with an overall very good content and lots of camaraderie

      • Mark I disagree completely with what you have said. The two emcees, Luke and Cathy, were extremely dynamic and helped keep the crowd interested in the show. It would be extremely difficult to perform in front of all the scouts at the jamboree and put yourself in their shoes. Luke and Cathy were arguably the best part of the shows outside of the musical acts.

  3. Awesome Finale closing show! The closing inspirational quotes at the end were wonderful!
    Hope the youth here read them. We are on Woodbadge staff again in 2 weeks. Is it possible to get a copy of those quotes?
    I’d love to share them with my fellow staff members at at final meeting before our course starts to inspire them to “Emulate Divine Truths”. Thank you for promoting the Goodness in this world!

    Debany Henriksen

  4. I believe that the fireworks display coupled with the music was a world class performance all by itself. Having seen the fireworks display of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty while standing right next to the photographer of Time magazine and attending the Detroit Freedom Festival annual display ten times, attending the July 4th Washington D.C. fireworks display along with the various musical organizations involved with that event, and traveling through Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Arizona for additional fireworks displays over a 40 year span, hearty congratulations must be given the creative energy and effort which came in a lengthy display of well choreographed canisters, beautifully displayed on the hills of the Summit Bechtell Family High Adventure Reserve. There is a story or two about that display which need to be told. Someone funded that display. It will be fascinating to learn how those funds were put together. The company which brought the performance together put their best effort on that project. There must be an extremely interesting story in that company’s front office. For those who stayed in their camps to avoid the threatening rain, your decision was understandable. Streaming the other presentations is probably okay as far as knowing what went on, but missing that fireworks display is a tragic loss of the 2017 Jamboree. The display was absolutely wonderful. If that fireworks display along with the music was repeated for the next five Jamborees no one lucky enough to be at those Jamborees would count it anything other than the fine performance that it was. I can only hope that those involved with that display from funding through implementation will read this note and be filled with the sense of accomplishment that their work so brilliantly achieved within the parameters that they had to work with.

  5. I am flabbergasted that no matter what is done there are always complaints. My son was there and yes he would have liked Imagine Dragons better but the Jamboree is not judged by the band that plays at closing. C’mon people. Can we just grow up? It’s getting tiresome.

  6. What I am most impressed about jamborees are the not the patches or the cards or the stage shows. I enjoy the photos of the campsites after 40,000 Scouts have left. All you can see are a few rectangles of worn grass. Imagine what 40,000 non-Scouts would have left!

  7. I’m interested in getting a copy of the inspirational quotes/ slides that were shown at the closing show.

  8. Oh yeah, fireworks. They must have learned something, there. In 2005, the first show was rained out, so they combined that one with the closing show! Over an HOUR of music (excellent sound system) , Cartoons on the big screen, recorded skits (some so corny they popped), and celestial lasers and pyrotechnics and I don’t know what all.
    Musical concerts not withstanding, it is all part of the package.

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