Local scouts attend national event

Thumbs Up from Anthony and Connor: Anthony Fortin, of Troop #603, and Connor Poirier, of Troop #631, both of Augusta, gave the thumbs up as they began cooking breakfast for the contingent at the sub-camp campsite at the Summit Reserve. (contributed photo)

submitted by Chuck Mahaleris

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.

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.

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.

Michael Fortin, committee chairman for Troop #603, in Augusta, also attended. “It was fulfilling to see all of the scouts have this amazing experience,” 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.”


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