EDITOR'S NOTE: Boy Scouts Alan Rosa and Alex Crow recently attended the National Jamboree, and with assistance wrote about their experience.
More than 70 boys and leaders from the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout Council boarded two chartered buses July 26 for a trip to the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree Fort A.P. Hill, Va.
We left Augusta three days early to do some sightseeing on the way, visiting Busch Gardens, Washington, D.C., with Splash Country on the third day jokingly called "Bath Day."
When we finally got to Jamboree, we could not believe how huge the camp was. There were hundreds of buses unloading thousands of scouts.
Fort A.P. Hill was like a small city with its own security, hospital, fire department, post office and radio station. There were no hotels in this city, though; everyone camped in thousands of tents. Our campsites were the farthest away from everything, so we walked about five miles each day to get anywhere.
There was so much to do at Jambo that 10 days was not enough time to do it all:
The Merit Badge Midway offered activities for almost all the 110 possible merit badges -- everything from art to inventions and geocaching to journalism. We liked the high adventure activities, so we went scuba diving, climbed and rappelled and practiced archery.
The Mysterium Compass was another favorite. Through games and challenges, we had to think about goals in life and how we would reach them as a team. We worked in groups to complete tasks in a techie, video-game type exhibit. That was cool.
Technology Quest was filled with hands-on robots and science experiments. NASA set up a flight simulator and space suits and we played robotic chess. We saw life-size models of the Predator and Alien creatures.
Many scouts focused on earning "rockers" instead of merit badges. Rockers are small patches that are worn around the Jamboree patch on your uniform. There were so many activities to do to earn all six rockers that we were still trying to finish on the last day of camp.
When we weren't out in the acres of activities, we were at the campsite cooking meals and hanging out. We brought all our own camping and cooking equipment and prepared breakfast and dinner each day at the eight "kitchens" in our two camps.
After dinner, the patch trading started.
Every Council designed a patch that could be traded with scouts from other councils and countries. The walking paths were filled with scouts displaying all their patches like merchants, and even more wanting to trade. We traded with scouts in places including Arizona, Chicago, New York and Alaska, and also with scouts from Puerto Rico, Vietnam and Sweden.
Being outside for 10 days left us dealing with the heat. Jambo had a colored flag system telling us how much water we had to drink each hour so the 100-plus-degree weather did not dehydrate us. Everywhere you looked were cooling stations for the overheated, water stations for the thirsty, first aid stations for the exhausted and porta-pottys for the rest of us.
We helped break the Guinness World Record for the most people yo-yoing at the same time. We crushed the old record of 650 yo-yo'ers with more than 2,000 Scouts, and we got to keep the yo-yos that had both the Boy Scout and Jamboree logos.
One of the more memorable events was the "Shine the Light" Closing Arena Show, three hours of the best of Jambo. The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team jumped in with one skydiver carrying a huge American flag. Volunteers were there to catch the flag when he landed so it never touched the ground.
Guest speaker Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs was carried in by a front-loader and the crowd went wild. He talked about growing up in scouts and becoming an Eagle Scout. He considers himself the "ambassador of dirt," so it is hard to obey the part of the scout law that says "A scout is clean," but he had a solution to that: Rowe turned around so everyone could see the back of his shirt that said, "A scout is clean... but not afraid to get dirty."
After pausing to take a photo of the crowd, Rowe thanked those who clean the latrines at the Jamboree, and challenged each scout to work hard and do the "dirty jobs" in life, too.
The band Switchfoot performed as we watched the biggest fireworks show we had ever seen.
There were about 100,000 scouts and visitors at that evening show, and at the end, torches from a huge campfire burning wood brought from every Council in attendance started passing the light to candles that every person held. It was amazing seeing a totally dark field slowly light up with candle light until every person held a flame from the Scout campfire.
We were challenged to "shine our light" to everyone around us and always represent the best in scouting. Then the Jambo Committee chairman asked everyone to blow out our lights and keep the candles until we all came together again at the next Jamboree in 2013. The night ended with thousands of scouts absolutely silent while two scouts played Taps on trumpets.
We are now looking forward to the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at a new location -- Bechtel Summit in West Virginia. Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., a former Eagle Scout, donated $50 million to help develop the West Virginia site into a permanent Jamboree venue. The Bechtel Summit will offer even more activities than this Jambo.
Even though we have been home for three weeks and school has started again, we keep replaying the trip and fun times in our heads.
Jamboree was the best part of the summer and will forever be in our minds and hearts. In 50 years, when our grandchildren attend the Jambo celebrating the 150th anniversary of Scouting, we will be able to share memories of this 100th Anniversary event with them. We were lucky to be part of it.
To learn more about the 2010 Jamboree, go to www.bsajamboree.org.
Scouts performed activities at the Jamboree to earn each of six "rockers," small badges that fit around the Jamboree badge on their uniforms.[CAPTION]
More than 53,000 Boy Scouts and scout leaders attended the national Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill, Va., celebrating the centennial of scouting.[CAPTION]
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