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Jamboree Journal – Halfway Point

By Beacon Staff

For the first few days of the 2010 National (Boy) Scout Jamboree, my patience had nearly hit rock-bottom as my body hurt from trying to adapt to the heat and humidity and the vast distances I had been walking about Washington, D.C. However, by this fourth day of being in the Jamboree made-up campground at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, I’ve gradually found myself getting used to be kicked out of my tent into the overpopulated camp city.

Did you know that there are half as many people here than there are in the entire Flathead Valley? An inexact total of 45,000 scouts and scout leaders; excluding the visitors, of course.

This fact was quite relevant when everybody gathered in the outdoor stadium designed to contain all the uniformed kids and adults; I think it was still possible to fit the entire valley there, there was still room!

As for why we were at such a giant field, it was a giant welcoming arena show full of guest stars such as Anthony Thomas, the two millionth Eagle Scout being the master of ceremonies; the WWE wrestling star Sergeant Slaughter; Caressa Cameron, this year’s Miss America; the Governor of Virginia; even the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as well as the Chief Executive of Scouting, Robert Mazzuca.

And yet there are more on the way; there’s another big show Saturday night where the only announced star to be there is Eagle Scout Mike Rowe from the Discovery Channel show, “Dirty Jobs”. We also had military performances from an expert parachuting squad: “The Golden Knights”, the presidential trumpeting squad, M-1 Garand rifle twirlers, and a ceremonial closing firing from the Army base’s mortars. This is what got us all excited.

However, I soon figured out it’s not all just happy sunshine; rather it’s still more glaring sunshine, just with grassy fields and no air conditioning. There ARE dozens of different activity stations spread here and there and buses to get from one area to another, but the lines to do those activities are quite often at least 25 people long for the finest or most exciting, leaving many kids to spend time trading patches; apparently uniform patch trading is a common pastime at Jamborees with different patches at different troops, ranging from our Montana mountainous patches to ones that represent Marvel comic characters and “Stargate” spaceships.

Back to the matter at hand, smaller activity stations like the reptile and amphibian station get fewer guests meaning no lines while the repelling and shotgun stations have a 20 minute wait, meaning you get more than just a tan in the sun. If you’re wondering what water activities we have and why we’re not doing them instead of melting, it’s because the pool, scuba, and snorkeling areas are commonly crowded, where you always bump into other boys with shirtless bodies. Trust me: not pleasant.

One of the more irritating parts for me is this set of safety rules set out: you can never EVER be out of your sub camp without a buddy; even for a bathroom break 15 feet away from the entrance (where the only privacy is small curtains, which the wind is constantly blowing open), and you must drink water every hour almost on the hour depending on the temperature; basically an entire quart every hour forcing you to rush to the restroom like mad all the time. These plus other rules just drive me nuts as they keep on popping out of nowhere further preventing our own amusement. However, there have been certain things that I’ve been rather enjoying throughout, such as the food actually being more than the usual slop served at camps back at home; it’s slop with good flavoring. Only having to cook breakfast and dinner while just fetching pre-made lunches at kiosks spread throughout helps as well.

There are also exhibits of animals over in the nature area showing live snakes and owls and falcons (oh my!), up close and personal, putting me in the best mood I’ve had all week. Also spread around the camp are concession stands serving nice, hot, processed food for the unhealthy mouth and the tourists, and ice cream stands with cute female Venture Scouts serving; the only girls our age we’ve seen all week.

Having already gone halfway through the eight day long event and with the second stadium show going on Saturday, I’ll have yet another handful to write about when I get back onto the computer screen.

Sean Malone
Troop 1936, Whitefish
Boy Scout Jamboree Hometown Correspondent

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