By Harold Jepsen
Apr 04, 2015

Gotta Go! Lessons From a 350 Pound Fencepost

National Jamboree and Tour Experience                                       Unit 26, Alpine District


JamboAPr1On the ninth day of the 2013 National Jamboree, our troop joined the Jamboree ranks to do our “Good Turn.” As part of the Jamboree Tour and Experience, we participated in the collective force of 40,000 Scouts giving 300,000 hours of community service across nine counties in West Virginia.

While being transported out of our Jamboree home, The Summit Bechtel Reserve Scout base, we learned our helping hands would be put to work in the small town high school of Shady Springs, WV. As we got off the bus, our troop of 40 was greeted by the maintenance staff who were eager to put us to work—cleaning the grounds and athletic fields of debris and trash, moving classroom furniture for floor refinishing, and stacking materials from a recently torn down fence took us to the noon hour. Getting out of the muggy heat and sun, we secured shade under the trees to eat lunch and look to our next assignment. We would be removing 58 steel fence posts from an abandoned practice field.

JamboApr2With 40 scouts and by simple math, we thought removing those posts would be a snap. About a post and a half per person and we’d be done. Little did we know what lurked at the buried end of those posts. About three feet of concrete, weighing roughly 350 pounds each. Whoever installed those posts wanted them to stay, and now our job was to remove them. On the first couple of posts we pick axed, we dug, we shook, we pulled, we did just about everything we could to extricate them. A sizable job for any man sized Scout, it was near impossible for our younger Scouts to tackle.

JamboAPr3We made little progress and produced a lot of sweat with the first few posts. Then we discovered the principle of the lever and team work. We found that if we could expose some of the concrete, and with 13 to 14 Scouts with steel fence supports as levers, we could pop these heavy footings out in a couple of minutes each. As each of these came free with our collective Scout muscle, everyone would yell in victory. What should have been tiring service turned into a game of team ‘Scout Force’ against stubborn 350 lb posts. We found the secret to topple our Goliath.

Although we put off rock climbing, zip lining, rope courses, and dozens upon dozens of other high adventure activities offered at the Jamboree that day, it was hard to top the satisfaction we felt as we conquered the last of those 58 posts. That day, we learned a lot about service, ourselves, and what we could do as a troop working toward a common purpose.

Who could have guessed what 350 pound fence posts could teach us? Obstacles, sweat, teamwork, fun, they’re just another great service Scouting offers our young men.

In 2017, the Utah National Parks Council will send 600 participants on the National Jamboree and Tour experience. Applications may be submitted at beginning January of 2015. You Gotta Go!

Author: Harold Jepsen | Council 2017 Jamboree Chair
To register or learn more about Jamboree, visit or find us on FaceBook.

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