Editor’s Note: Msgr. John B. Brady is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. He became a Scout in 1942 and has served in the Scouting movement as a youth and an adult for 71 years. He has participated in 15 National Boy Scout Jamborees, two International Jamborees and the fifth All India Jamboree. He has served as Catholic chaplain for the past eight summers at the Goshen Scout Reservation. He is the chaplain for Region 4 of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting. Yesterday he sent this report about this year’s National Boy Scout Jamboree, which began July 15 and is wrapping up this afternoon in West Virginia. Catholic News Service carried this story on the jamboree.
By Msgr. John B. Brady
MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. — Each morning I am awakened by Scouts pulling yellow steel carts with black pneumatic tires across the gravel parking area in front of my tent, which I share with another priest, a chaplain from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and an Independent Christian Church chaplain.
The carts — all 320 of them — start coming at 4:15 a.m. and continue until the last one is filled by 7:00 a.m., with breakfast and dinner for the 6,511 Scouts and leaders encamped in Sub-Camp D. The cart pullers are our future priests, bishops, and political, civic and community leaders.
Scouts will come here to the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Mount Hope to have adventures of a lifetime like, zip-line challenge courses, kayaking, rock climbing, the ropes, the canopy, bouldering, water reality, mountain boarding, skateboarding, BMX, treks, gaga ball, and dragon boats.
The summit will introduce these new programs to make Scouting more relevant and meet the needs of the present generation of Scouts. The Scouts are excited and want to come back. During the 10-week camping season of 2014, 25,000 Scouts will come for High Adventure, which will eventually grow to 50,000.
In 2015, summer camp will begin and eventually accommodate another 50,000 Scouts in addition to the High Adventure Scouts, for a total of 100,000 each summer. Every four years a national jamboree will be held here. This summer of 2013, 27,125 Scouts and 3,361 of their leaders have come for the 18th National Jamboree and the first ever to be held at the Summit. 6,429 Staff have come to work long hours of sleep-deprived days to help the Scouts. We are a community of 36,915 Scouts and Scouters sleeping under canvas for 10 days. Scouts, Scouters, and staff are challenged by choice, beyond their human limits. They do things they always dreamed of doing but thought they could not do.
Why would Scouts come all the way from Costa Rica and then go out for a “Day of Service” in the nearby coal mining community to construct a fence and plant an herb garden for the Whipple Company Store & Museum? Because Scouts take an oath “to help other people at all times,” and the Scouts have a slogan: “Do a good turn daily.”
Six thousand Scouts are bused out of the Jamboree each day to help nonprofits in nearby West Virginia communities. Why is it that over 90 percent of Scouts and Scouters attend religious services at Jamborees and less than 25 percent of the populations at home attend church, synagogue, temple or mosque? Because Scouts take an oath to do their duty to God and they take a pledge: “A Scout is reverent.”
I asked 18-year-old Sean Cutler from Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Medford, Ore., a member of Explorer Post 151, Crater Lake Council, how he liked serving on the medical staff.
Cutler said, “There are no words that can describe this Summit Jamboree experience. Awesome, fantastic, euphoria, fantabulous, splendiferous don’t even come close.”
“Why would you pay $1,000 to come here to work for 10 days?” I asked. He replied: “My father is a phlebotomist. I have been around medicine all my life. I want to become a doctor but I don’t know what kind. Where else could an 18 year old work with all kinds of doctors, do patient care, Triage — check all vital signs, take blood pressure, SPO2 levels, pulse, heart rates, temperatures, height and weight? There are 47 Scouters on the medical staff in Sub-Camp D. We have EMTs, RNs, PAs, and NPs. We have 10 kinds of doctors including a cardiologist, podiatrist, urologist, and nephrologists. Working with this outstanding medical staff will determine the direction of my entire life.”
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting set up the religious activity of rosary making. Ed Martin, chairman of the NCCS was advised against offering rosary making because the Scouts would not come. To his amazement, they are waiting in line for their 30-minute to one-hour instruction. 4,500 Scouts did not list a religious preference on their medical form. They are searching; they are making rosaries and learning to say the rosary — Scouts of many faiths. They are taught to say the Hail Mary and the Our Father as they string each bead, and they are awarded a “Pray the Rosary Patch,” if they learn the mysteries and know how to say the rosary by the time their turn is over.
Father Michael Hanifin, NCCS national chaplain, recruited 10 Catholic priests, one seminarian, and two deacons to be among the 105 Jamboree chaplains representing over 25 faith communities. Chaplains have many opportunities to help Scouts and Scouters. Daily Mass in the sub-camps and headquarters areas, the arena Mass with a congregation of 10,000, visiting the sick in the medical tents and hospitals, counseling the homesick and depressed, helping Scouts discern their vocations and commit themselves to their life’s work.
This is my 15th National Jamboree where I have seen Scouting at its best. When I walk along the gravel roads of the Summit I hear Scouts say, “I didn’t think that Scouting could be this good. … Never dreamed that I could have this much fun.”
Every bishop, every diocese, every pastor, every parish, every Scouter and every parent will have their own opinions of Scouting but, Jamborees are youth ministry at its best. Jamborees are awesome.
Scouting is present in 160 nations. As of June 30, 2013, we have 2,016,937 youth members and 929,696 volunteer Scouters. or a total membership in the United States of 2,946,633.
Scouting is one of the world’s largest and best youth movements to help young people discern their calling, their vocations, their life’s work, and to transform boys and girls into men and women of character and integrity. We must not abandon the cart pullers as the destiny of our world will soon be in their hands.