Scouts on Assignment: Robert Slater's Jamboree Report
THE JAMBOREE: JULY 27-AUGUST 4
During Jamboree, in addition to the many varied activities that you can do, there are also Arena Shows. There are two major shows and also several minor shows that occur. The first show I attended was dubbed the Kick-off Show, which was held on Wednesday, July 28. Jamboree started with our arrival early on Monday, July 26, but for some reason they don't have the kickoff show until two days later. I don't understand the logic but that is how it was.
On Wednesday morning we had to wake up early and, instead of cooking a full breakfast, we had grab food and go as the mobilization for the show started at shortly after 7:00 a.m. After eating what was supposed to be a breakfast but really was only a snack for a teenage boy, we had to hike two miles to the Arena.
We took our seats on the grass with all the other 46,000-plus scouts in a sea of khaki and green. The program started with a band whose members were staff volunteers, they weren't too bad when you figure they had only been practicing for a short while together. After the band played, the Army Golden Knights put on a show – that was awesome to watch.
The remainder of the show involved listening to Miss America. This wouldn't have been so bad but you could tell she wasn't used to talking with boys as her introduction went something like this, "It's nice to talk to all you young women." She quickly corrected herself but by then it was too late, we were all laughing.
In addition to Miss America, there were also a lot of other speakers including the Governor of Virginia and although President Obama was supposed to be there in person at this show, he sent Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense and a former Eagle Scout, instead. Finally, the head of the Boy Scouts of America, Bob Manzzuca also addressed us. This was an important Jamboree because it was the 100th of Boy Scouts of America. The show ended around 10:45 a.m. and we were all released to go back to working on merit badges, “Rockers” and just plain having fun.
After the show on Wednesday, I went and did the military obstacle course which was very challenging and then set to work on earning “Rockers."
Rockers are special badges that can only be earned at Jamboree and can be worn on my uniform even when I come home. There are six Rockers in all and many require you doing multiple tasks. The Rockers include: Participate in a 5K run/walk (at 6 a.m. in 90 degree weather); Duty to God (reading the Bible and discussing verses and attending mass); Activities Rocker (Scuba Diving and Snorkeling); Outback Centers (aptly named because they were out back at the far end of the Jamboree facilities and included many different boating activities and courses); Exhibit Rocker (included participating in a Technology Quest and a Conservation Trail); and finally Mysterium Compass Rocker (this was cool, it was put on by a special level of scouts known as The Order of the Arrows and involved a giant water slide!)
Most of the exhibits and activities closed down for the day around 5 p.m. so there was a lot of free time and you might be wondering what we did to fill the time. How does cooking and cleaning sound? OK, so it wasn't that bad but it sure took a lot of time. After cleaning up after dinner, we mostly played cards, raised our blistered feet or went for Dunkin’ Donuts! (We are teenagers after all!)
I have to tell you about the minor Arena Show that took place on Tuesday. This was a special show presented by the U.S. Post Office. Because this was the 100th Anniversary of Boy Scouts in America, the U.S. Post Office unveiled a stamp at Jamboree. During Jamboree, the Post Office creates a special zip code just for us. Well at this show, they issued this stamp for the very first time.
I stood in line for my first-day issue but by the time I got to the head of the line, they were all gone. I guess they didn't think this would be that well attended. In the end, they took our names and they went back to the Jamboree Post Office and prepared some more first-day envelopes. I got mine on Saturday. I will add it to my collection.
I am an avid reader and as part of the Arena Show on Friday, two of my favorite authors were attending and I really wanted to go. I am sure most of you have read or at least heard about the Eragon, Eldest and Brisinger books and the Maximum Ride series. Both James Patterson and Christopher Paolini were in attendance. Unfortunately because I lost my Rocker tracking book, I was too busy making up for lost time to attend but my brother, Peter, was able to go and was nice enough to wait in line to get James Patterson's autograph for me.
The Jamboree ended on Wednesday, August 4, but like the opening Arena Show, the closing Arena Show did not take place at closing. The closing Arena Show took place four days earlier, on Saturday, July 31. This was the most crowded day at Jamboree.
Jamboree is open most days for visitors but most activities are only for those attending Jamboree except the Arena Show. For the show on Saturday, there were estimated to be over 100,000 people on-site. This show was bigger and better than the opening show.
For this show, we had to be back to our camp by 4 p.m. to start our march to the Arena – it takes a lot of time to get 100,000 people into one place. The scouts all marched together with their units. We left our camp around 5:00 and we were one of the last sub-camps to enter the Arena, around 7:00 p.m.
This show had a lot of entertainment including the Black Daggers, which are the Army top parachutists and a demonstration by the Air Force drill team. There were several video feeds/movies including one about where the next Jamboree will be – Bechtel Camp in West Virginia.
There was also a video presented with President Obama speaking to us, some said it was a live feed but some said it was taped, I am not sure. There were also many bands that played including Honor Society and Switch Foot. The main speaker was Mike Rowe, Discovery Channel host of Dirty Jobs. Believe it or not, he too was once a scout and he shared many of his experiences with us including his first which is the one I remember the most.
Mike Rowe was a shy uncoordinated boy who stuttered. His Dad signed him up for scouts to help him overcome his shyness and dropped him off at the first meeting. Within the first five minutes he was bleeding! Would you stay or go back if that was your first impression? Well he stayed but he still says the person that invented the game "Swing the Thing" was an idiot!
His main message to us was that although one of the Scout motto's includes “a Scout must be clean,” a Scout must also be dirty. He is the Ambassador of Dirt (that's his words).
To top off this closing show, there was a huge fireworks show. This show broke the record for the number of fireworks ever set off on a military base. It was loud and it lit up the sky and made a perfect ending. The show ended around 10:45 p.m. and guess what we got to do, yes that is right – the hike back to our camp. Our region was lucky because we had the shortest hike, only two miles. I kinda felt sorry for some of the other scouts.