Special to The Sun
As the 2013 National Scout Jamboree drew to a close Tuesday, more than 150 Boy Scouts, representing a variety of ages and levels within the Last Frontier Council covering the Greater Oklahoma City area, were packing their gear getting ready to head home July 24 from a location near Mount Hope, W.V.
There were 40 scouts representing nine different units from the Edmond and Deer Creek areas. This contingent included one girl, Victoria Rossiter from Venture Crew 344.
The 10-day event — held every four years — is the first at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. The Summit is an expansive facility located on over 10,000 acres in West Virginia’s renowned adventure sports region of the New River Gorge. The Jamboree, embodying the theme “Go Big, Get Wild,” started July 15 and came to a close July 23.
Scouts were able to participate in adventures including more than six miles of zip line challenge courses, 36 miles of mountain bike trails, 13 acres of shooting sports, kayaking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, bouldering, skateboarding, mountain biking and many other activities.
The Jamboree attracted more than 40,000 scouts and scout leaders from across the nation and more than 24 other nations around the world.
“Scouting is a worldwide movement,” said Josh Bruza, a 14-year-old Star Rank Scout from Troop 177 serving the northwest Oklahoma City, Deer Creek and Edmond areas. “This has been a great opportunity to meet with scouts from all over the world. One of the boys in our troop just walked up to the King of Sweden and traded patches with him. We have exchanged with scouts from England, Japan and Egypt and learned about their culture while they learned about ours.”
For Michael Vallejo, a 15-year-old Life Rank Scout also from Troop 177, it was more about the adventure. “This place is awesome,” Michael said. “Hiking this area of West Virginia just makes you crave to hike the whole Appalachian Trail. A couple of days ago we went whitewater rafting and yesterday I went mountain biking while others in our group went to the canopy tour and the zip lines. Yes, it’s hot. And yes, you’ve got to walk a lot, but really, the biggest challenge is that we only have 10 days and there is so much to do here. It’s always hard to decide what to do next.”
Upon arrival on July 15, the boys set up camp and became acquainted with the place they would call home for the following 10 days. On Tuesday evening they closed a day of exciting activities with inspirational words from Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor of West Virginia and a concert by Taylor County, West Virginia’s country band, Taylor Made.
The event has been designed to encompass all the different areas of scouting so community service is deeply embedded in it as well.
“Every day more than 8,000 scouts leave the camp early in the morning for a day of community service in this area of West Virginia,” said Mitchell Dye, a Life Scout from Oklahoma City. “By the end of Jamboree every single scout here will have volunteered a full day.”
The Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia coordinated 350 projects to be performed over 5 days.
“According to CCCWV this is the largest community service effort of its kind to ever be performed in the history of our country,” Mitchell said. “The Scouts have endured long bus rides and worked in high humidity and sweltering weather to help rural communities in the area. In the same spirit that others across the country supported us when we were working in the aftermath of the El Reno and Moore tornados earlier this year, now we are just glad to be here and offer a helping hand.”
A portion of the Oklahoma City Scouts from Last Frontier Council built a new trail and constructed more than a dozen benches that will be placed along the path at the Twin Branch Adventure Facility in McDowell County, W.V. Others have been pulling weeds, building bat houses, creating new trails and cleaning and beautifying parks and other public facilities. The scouts will continue until the closing of the event on Tuesday.
“Technology has also become a huge part of the 2013 Jamboree. Cell towers rise high above each of the five base camps and Wi-Fi is freely available throughout the extensive Jamboree site,” said Cesar Vallejo, Scoutmaster of Troop 177 that meets at Church of the Servant in Edmond. “A technology quest facility is being hosted by BSA in partnership with private companies and other entities like AT&T, Microsoft, Lego, NASA, National Geographic, Mountain View Solar, West Virginia University, University of Charleston and others. At Technology Quest, boys participate in a variety of hands-on technology experiences and are able to earn Merit Badges in areas like Aviation & Space; Biotechnology & Life Sciences; Communications & Information Technology; Engineering & Mathematics; Forensic Sciences; Physical Sciences; Renewable Energy and Robotics.”
The scouts’ last Saturday’s evening event featured inspirational words from Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel “Dirty Jobs” as well as Col. Lawrence Dahl of the United States Army and His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden and honorary president of the World Scouting Movement. Finally, a performance by rock band 3 Doors Down helped the boys close another fun-packed evening.
Most portions of these events have been broadcast live through the Internet at JamboLive.org enabling friends and family at home to participate and enjoy the scouts’ activities.
Yadin Joseph and Nicholas Crowder are both First Class Scouts from Edmond. “There are two huge screens on the sides of the giant stage (in the 50,000 open air venue) that we are calling the Jambotrons,” Yadin said.
“Along with the show, the screens project a scrolling live Twitter feed that can be seen by the scouts onsite, as well as by those watching at home, allowing for a massive interactive two-way conversation with sometimes rather hilarious messages.”
Nicholas said, “It is really cool to know our families are watching at home the same thing we are watching here live and it’s really funny to see some of the messages parents send to their kids through the Jambotron.”
All branches of U.S. military are also represented at Jamboree in an area known as Freedom Field. Here, scouts have been able to explore the displays of military gear and equipment and participate in fitness challenges. In doing so, they also have an opportunity to interact with military members and discuss what a military career has to offer.
“Freedom Field has been one of the most productive and enjoyable visits I have had at Jamboree,” said Scott Kincannon, a Life Rank Scout and ROTC student at Edmond North High School. “The equipment and technology on display is amazing and it was great to see the U.S. Armed Forces here supporting the scout movement.”
“The Oklahoma City contingent will break down camp and start the long bus ride home on Wednesday (July 24),” Vallejo said.
“They are expected back in town Thursday morning.
“Meanwhile, here at home, some of the younger scouts who could not make the trip are already fundraising and preparing for their opportunity to participate in the upcoming 2015 World Jamboree in Kirara-hama, Japan, or the 2017 National Scout Jamboree back at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve.”