Harrison Garcia, of Rockland, is a Life Scout with Troop 200 in Camden

Maine Scouts attend National Jamboree in July 2023

Fri, 08/11/2023 - 4:00pm

The Boy Scouts of America Jamboree attracted over 13,000 scouts from around the world and over 5,000 visitors to the 10-day event in July including Scouts from Maine.   

Over the course of the Jamboree, which takes place every four years, the BSA gathers together. Scouts and Scouters explored all kinds of adventures—stadium shows, pioneer village, Mount Jack hikes, adventure sports and more—in the heart of one of nature’s greatest playgrounds. With 10,000 acres at the Bechtel Summit Reserve in West Virginia to explore, and directly across from the New River Gorge National Park, there was no shortage of opportunities to build Scouting memories.

The 45 Scouts and leaders from Pine Tree Council (which covers southern and western parts of Maine) took a bus to the event which was held at the Summit making stops in Washington, D.C. Contingent Leader, Joan Dollarhite wrote on July 17 at Camp Snyder outside Washington, D.C., “Tents are pitched, pizza ordered and eaten. We had a great ride and are looking forward to sightseeing tomorrow.” The Scouts earned the money for the trip through many fundraisers such as selling popcorn outside the Lowes in Brunswick, selling meat sticks, bottle drives, etc.

Harrison Garcia lives in Rockland and attends Oceanside High School. He is a Life Scout with Troop 200 in Camden was one of the attendees at the Jamboree. "My favorite experience at the jamboree was making new friends. It's always an amazing feeing to know more people around the country and other parts of the world. I met people from Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. Some different things I did were checking out different tents where there was patch making, patch trading, merit badges (you could earn), and GaGa Ball at my campsite." Some of the activities were very popular and the lines were long at times. Harrison found a way to beat the line by showing up at 2 AM for the "Big Zip" Zip Line. He was first in line that day. "I earned the Chemistry Merit badge, and I did it for my grandpa who was a retired chemist. I’d say, for what I did there, it was an amazing experience, and there was definitely a lot more to do."

From soaring high above the ground on a zip line to conquering high ropes courses and scaling rock walls, there was no shortage of adventures at the Jamboree. Local Scouts took on the challenge of the climbing wall, navigated their way through orienteering courses, tried new things like branding or welding, and braved the rapids during an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip. There were also demonstrations from the U.S. Coast Guard and motivational speeches given by Scott Pelley, correspondent for 60 Minutes and former news anchor and managing editor of CBS News who talked about bravery; and Lt. General and Eagle Scout, John Evans, who spoke to Scouts about the importance of leadership. Maine’s Scouts not only found their adrenaline rush but also took part in programs designed to foster personal growth and build self-confidence. They also found opportunities to overcome mental and emotional obstacles as well and engage in team-building exercises that required communication, problem-solving, and collaboration. These experiences not only enhance outdoor skills but also cultivate character and resilience. The Jamboree helped to develop leadership skills.

They also took part in a massive good deed. Scouts at the National Jamboree assembled 5,000 "Flood Bucket" cleaning kits consisting of 15 items ranging from rubber gloves and scrub brushes to scouring pads and towels packed tightly into a 5-gallon bucket. These kits serve as essential “first aid” resources that provide flood victims with the practical and emotional support necessary to begin restoration of their homes and personal belongings. The completed kits, valued at $375,000, are being packed tightly into a five-gallon bucket and will be wrapped and transported to a warehouse and then distributed as needed to flooded areas throughout West Virginia as "first aid" resources for flood victims.

Susan Shoberg of Windham served as the Scoutmaster for the female Scouts from Pine Tree Council who attended the Jamboree. “I enjoyed watching the youth be able to explore on their own and find adventure every day,” Shoberg said. She enjoyed the zip line and meeting guest speakers such as Scott Pelley; Elaine Ho, director of diversity at NASA; and Scott Mann, founder of Operation Pineapple Express. Shoberg is the volunteer District Commissioner for the Abnaki District which delivers Scouting in Androscoggin and Oxford Counties.

Anthony Fortin of Augusta attends Cony High School and is a member of Troop 603. “I earned Radio, Sustainability, and Family Life Merit Badges; did some patch trading; soared across a zip line; had fun at the Camp bashes (parties); attended Catholic Mass with a thousand other Scouts; played the kazoo and the bugle; and met many new people from all over the country,” Anthony said.

Will Barry is an Eagle Scout from Saco Troop 310 and said that the highlight for him was “Definitely meeting people from all across the U.S., and even some from other countries! I made many new friends, and had a lot of fun experiences with them along the way.”

Michael Fortin, Committee Chair for Troop 603, also attended. “It was fulfilling to see all of the Scouts have this amazing experience,” Michael Fortin said. “Many of the Scouts on this adventure did not know the leaders and conversely, we did not know most of them.  Spending time together provided the leaders with the opportunity to get to know them and witness these young people on their Scouting journey.  The heat, humidity, and hilly terrain were challenging for us older adults to navigate, but we endured it all to ensure our Scouts were safe and had an absolutely awesome time. We saw many examples of Scouts who unselfishly embraced the Oath and Law and demonstrated what it truly means to be a Scout.”