Another reason to attend the 2023 Jamboree: earning the Theater merit badge from a Broadway producer

Photo by Michael Roytek

There are lots of reasons to be excited about the 2023 National Jamboree, happening July 19-28, 2023, at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Today, we look at one of them: the Theater merit badge.

For many years, John Paterakis was deeply involved in two worlds: Scouting and Broadway theater.

As a volunteer with the Greater New York Councils, Paterakis has served as district chairman and Cubmaster. As a supporter of theater, Paterakis has produced or co-produced five Broadway shows.

This summer, at the National Scout Jamboree, Paterakis’ worlds collide when he leads the Theater merit badge exhibit.

“The theater is fun,” Paterakis says. “It’s a wonderful, magical place. It’s exciting to be a part of.”

Movies are great (in fact, Paterakis was an executive producer on a 2016 film called Swing Away), but there’s something special about live theater.

And while the 3D in Avatar is great, nothing compares to the three-dimensional reality of being in the same room as the actors.

The perfect place to earn the Theater merit badge

After spending time in his youth as a Scout, Paterakis decided to re-engage with Scouting a decade or so ago because he was thankful for the opportunities it gave him.

“With my arthritis, my days of sleeping in a tent are over,” he says. “But I thought maybe there was a committee or something I could be a part of.”


When he realized his church didn’t have an affiliated Cub Scout pack, he started one from scratch.

It was at a 2020 Wood Badge course at The Summit Bechtel Reserve that he spoke to other Scouting volunteers about his background in theater. One thing led to another, and before he knew it, he was planning for the 2023 Jamboree, where he hopes to have materials such as costume drawings and set models for the Scouts to learn from.

He eventually connected with an old college friend and fellow Scouting volunteer, Thomas Shaw, from the Cradle of Liberty Council, who shares Paterakis’ passion for theater and also serves as a Theater merit badge counselor.

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What’s a Jamboree?

The National Scout Jamboree is a gathering of thousands of the BSA’s adult and youth members, usually held every four years. The 2021 event, however, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 Jamboree has adapted the theme of Forward, representing the Scouting journey. When Scouts encounter a challenge, they don’t stand still – they evaluate, plan and move forward. Scouting as a movement is always moving forward, reaching new generations of young people and equipping them to be leaders in their communities, nation and world.

Over the course of 10 days, participants will experience stadium shows, hikes, adventure sports, merit badges and more.

Click here to learn more and reserve your spot on the Jamboree Service Team.

Click here to learn more about joining the Jamboree as a participant.

What aspect of the Jamboree are you looking forward to the most? What should we cover next in our series leading up to the big event? Shoot us an email or let us know in the comments.

About Aaron Derr 457 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.