Sunday, December 6, 2009

Touring the East Coast and the 2001 National Scout Jamboree

In a previous post, I recounted my experiences at the 2005 National Scout Jamboree where I served on staff for the Action Center C bikathlon event. Here I will tell of my travels to the East Coast as a boy participant at the Jamboree in 2001.

My Jamboree adventure started many months before I even arrived on the East Coast. In order to attend the Jamboree, you must be part of a special Jamboree Troop that meets before hand to prepare. So besides participating in my home troop's activities (Mission Hills, Troop 104) , I had to join a Jamboree Troop (Jamboree Troop 647), comprised of scouts from many different troops. We went on camping trips and did team building activities much like a normal troop so we could work well together and be organized for the trip.

In addition to staying at the Jamboree site at Fort AP Hill for 10 days, doing all manner of scouting activities, we toured the East Coast before and after the Jamboree event. Because I have been back to the Jamboree since my first visit, my East Coast travels stand out more in my memory than my stay at Fort AP Hill.

While touring, we visited historically, economically, and politically significant places in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. I was thrilled to be able to see the reconstructed Mayflower, important battle fields like Gettysburg, Independence Hall, and so many other locations significant to the birth and growth of our country.

In Pennsylvania, we visited Lancaster County where there is a large population of Amish. Seeing a thriving community using horse drawn buggies and shops of hand sewn quilts put my technologically cluttered life in perspective. Unsurprisingly, I took interest in their pneumatic ceiling fans, and compressed air milking machines.

Further south we visited Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, the Capitol, White house, and National Mall. While in New York, our troop went to the viewing deck on top of the World Trade Center. When the towers came down just a few months later in September 2001, I could still clearly remember the view from the top.

As we arrived, the Jamboree site became the 6th largest city in Virginia and even received its own postal zip code. A bus system, communications, hospitals, post offices, a radio station, and newspaper were all set up at Fort AP Hill for the influx of scouters who would be living there. I participated in as many activities as I could, although I didn't spend any time at the merit badge midway (I figured I could earn merit badges back at home and didn't want to miss out on other events unique to the Jamboree). It was great meeting scouts from across the nation and around the world, and working with my troop as we cooked our meals, washed our clothes, and went to events together.

After dinner one evening, a huge water fight broke out in the small valley that divided our subcamp. Water balloons, squirt guns, wash basins, cups; anything that held water became a weapon. (I think it helped that we had just been to Gettysburg and that there were a couple large Confederate and American flags being waved around, albeit, Old Glory had few more stars than during the Civil War).

One particularly rainy afternoon, a thunderstorm passed over the Jamboree site. When the flashes and thunder came at the same time, we knew the storm was above us but didn't know just how dangerous the storm could be. Less than 100 yards from where we were, a scout in the camp next to us was struck by lightning. Luckily his scoutmaster saw him in time and performed CPR, saving his life.

After the Jamboree, we toured a few more days and finished our adventure at the King's Dominion theme park before flying home. Volcano, at King's Dominion, is the most intense roller coaster I've ever been on.

My daily recordings (The Captain's Log) for the 2001 National Scout Jamboree