It’s always a bit of surprise to me where discussions of Scouting pop up. Last week it was in the gym.
My new workout partner didn’t quite get what we were doing in class, so I asked Melanie, our yoga teacher, to stay after and help him. I mentioned that we both work for BSA, and without hesitation, she said that she loves Scouting.
I asked her why and was all ears as she described what Scouting meant for their family and how, for her son, it culminated in Jamboree. She said that, because his troop is small, not much had been happening in Scouts. “We found that we had to take matters into our own hands to help James progress along the Scouting trail, and at the same time, get him to learn all the principles of Scouting.” With that, she became Troop 176’s committee chair.
She explained how she took training herself to help her son on the trail to Eagle, which he earned in October of last year. During one course, she met Bill Mitchell, who was serving as a Jamboree Troop Scoutmaster. She expressed to Bill how she wanted her son to get the whole Scouting experience. Bill, in turn, offered to include James in his Jamboree troop.
Melanie said that after he joined this troop “it was a fantastic experience. I loved that for the whole year before Jamboree, they were holding meetings and learning how to be patrols, following the guidelines of Scouting.”
She said that she was especially fond of the preparation for Jamboree and explained how it helped him learn how to plan for something in the future, by working now. “He had to earn money so he could go, he had to attend all his troop meetings, and he ended up being one of the patrol leaders, so he also had a leadership responsibility. It was awesome for me as a parent to be able to take a step back and let him be responsible to his Jamboree Scoutmaster and senior patrol leader.”
Then, with delight in her voice, she said, “Sending him on the Jamboree was like sending him on a mini mission. He will tell anyone his absolute favorite experience was going to the Sacred Grove because he had an experience with God there that he had never had before—he might have never allowed himself to have.” Melanie explained how the other adult men and boys that were there “had all prepared to be there in that place, at that time, having that experience together and with God.” She described how this made it comfortable for James to become close to his Heavenly Father and it became a very personal religious experience in the Grove.
In addition, she expressed that “Having that awesome foundation to be able to take to the Jamboree in West Virginia and seeing tens of thousands of other young men and young women who have the same values was invaluable for my son.” However, religion was not the only thing that made this experience so valuable.
She said that her son liked the BMX tracks best, returning several times. He also enjoyed the rock climbing, kayaking, and all the things at Jamboree that they could not offer him at home in Scouting. “It was amazing for him to be able to go away and have this experience where he got to learn what he is made of,” she said.
“I know that my son is prepared from National Jamboree and can’t even imagine how much more prepared he will be at World Jamboree, being able to interact with so many different people, from so many different religions and cultural backgrounds. Learning how to respect and appreciate all the diversity that is in this world while at the same time learning they can do hard things without mom and dad hovering over them all the time.”
When asked about World Jamboree in two years, with a tear in her eye, she promised, “You should consider it because it is the best investment you can make in your son.”
She conclude by saying, “It allows them to make those choices for themselves and feel the growth that comes from making hard decisions and following through on their own. It was worth every single penny.”
Author:Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council attended the 2017 National Jamboree to report on activities there. You can read his team’s posts at VoiceOfScouting.org by searching for Jamboree.