155 Istrouma area scouts return from national jambore

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

155 Boy Scouts and 22 Scout Leaders from the Istrouma Area Council, including Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes, departed Lamar Dixon Expo Center Thursday July 22, hopped an Amtrak train in New Orleans and headed off for the opportunity of a lifetime -  to join more than 44,000 other Scouts and Leaders in the grand celebration of 100 years of Scouting in America at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. 

The centennial festivities evoked elation and emotion in the young and young at heart as Scouts from all 50 states and 26 nations gathered to experience the rush of Scouting’s most exciting event.

Following three days touring historic sites in Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Washington D.C. the scouts marched onto Fort A.P. Hill with one goal in mind:  TO HAVE FUN!!!  “’Having Fun’ is key at the Jamboree,” said Neil Giroir, an adult leader from Brusl. “This week is all about the boys.  There is so much to do, it’s impossible not to have fun.”

Triumphant young men raised their fists after conquering a 40-foot vertical wall, tackling the mountain board course or going “five for five” at the trap shooting course.  Thousands hung out by the lake hoping to catch their first fish and looking forward to cleaning, cooking and eating their catch in lieu of the mystery spam dinner awaiting them back at their troop campsite.  Others hung out at the “swimming hole” with their friends enjoying the sounds of Q-BSA, an onsite radio station that the scouts DJ’ed.

“Fun” took on many faces over the ten days at Fort A.P. Hill.  Scouts were able to pick the brains of the amazing minds behind space exploration, cell phone photography, and flight simulation—and then to experience it all firsthand!   They interacted with many sports and entertainment heroes, such as WWE Wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, NASCAR Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, and Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs.”  Rowe, an Eagle Scout, reminded us all that a Scout is Clean; yet emphasized that a Scout is not afraid to get dirty!  This became the mantra of this year’s Jamboree.  

Scouts were encouraged to physically challenge themselves at Camp Thunder on a multiple trap shooting course,  and on the Motor Cross course.  Both the Disability Awareness exhibit and Conservation Alley reminded Scouts of their duty to their neighbors.

Traditional Scouting was on display at venues like the Merit Badge Midway, featuring over 100 available Merit Badge classes taught by a carnival of specialized experts, and the four pioneering exhibits where scouts were reminded of life before the internet.

Scouts were drawn to The Mysterium Compass, a live-action adventure combining elements of video gaming with theme park-style immersion, actors, and theatrical settings sponsored by the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society. The OA also provided Scouts an air of tradition and American Indian lore with authentic dance performances at the American Indian Village.

Let’s not forget patch trading. Scouts lined the walking paths with blankets covered in scout patches hoping to trade with fellow Scouts.  Scouts could trade for patches with scouts from around the continent; especially popular patches were designed to capture characters from the movie Avatar, X-Men, Star Wars and Star Trek as well as traditional Scouting lore. Regardless of the patches being traded, there was one constant in every deal: The scouts shook hands and thanked each other for the opportunity to share in the experience.

Two arena shows were held, with the first highlighted by an inspirational address given by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the presentation of colors from over 250 Scouts around the Country.

The closing show on Saturday, July 31, featured Mike Rowe and an unbelievable fireworks demonstration.  Scouts were a part of history as the festivities from the arena were webcast around the world. More than a few tears were shed as youth and adults alike renewed their spirit and commitment to the Scouting movement.

Following Jamboree, the Scouts headed back to Washington D.C. to explore the Smithsonian Museums, the Capital Building and the International Spy Museum. Exhausted and filled with great memories, the Scouts boarded the Crescent City Express at Union Station and headed home to a hero’s welcome.  Over three hundred parents, family members and friends met the Scouts around midnight Aug. 7 at Lamar Dixon with “Welcome Home” banners and sparklers.  Many hugs and tears were shared as the Scouts told of their journey.

Happy 100th Birthday Boy Scouts of America and thank you for inviting me to your party.

Joseph Orgeron

Hometown News Reporter