Here’s a dispatch from Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia sent earlier this week by Msgr. John B. Brady from the national Scout jamboree, which closed today. 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 over 75 years.
He experienced the first U.S. national jamboree in 1937, when he was 8 years old and visited the encampment on the National Mall in Washington. He joined the Boy Scouts in seventh grade and went on to become an Eagle Scout.
Papal nuncio, Trump give Scouting high praise at Jamboree
By Msgr. John B. Brady
Catholic Chaplain for Subcamp Delta 1, 2, 3 and 4.
July 24, 2017 — I am sitting in the pavilion of Base Camp Delta, one of the six camps of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va.
In the distance I can see about 27,000 Scouts sitting on the green grass slope of the arena plus about 6,000 staff, volunteer troop leaders, and visitors. They are filled with excitement, awaiting the arrival of President Donald Trump.
I am an 88-year-old-Scout, unable to walk the mile to the arena, go through security, and sit in the sun for hours to hear the president. This is the 19th jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America — a national event scheduled every four years. I attended most of them beginning with the first jamboree in Washington in 1937, and this will most likely be my last.
A jamboree is a life-changing event for both youth and adults. The second jamboree — in 1950 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania — led me to the seminary and 62 years of serving as a parish priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, for which I thank almighty God.
Phil Rowe, a freight transportation consultant for the past 20 years is here, serving as one of the 600 medical staff, to discern transitioning to a new profession such as becoming an Advance EMT, which will be more helpful to mankind and offer him new opportunities to serve others.
Phil’s son earned the Geology merit badge at age 11 and has just graduated from college with a degree in geology and is on the threshold of beginning his geology career.
Tomorrow I meet with a 2017 college graduate to help him discern whether he is called to become the father of a family or enter the seminary. At every jamboree I have attended, I have helped at least one Scout to consider the priesthood or enter the seminary.
From a mile away I hear the roar; the president has arrived. He is one of eight presidents who have visited a jamboree. He stood on the stage at the very spot where just yesterday the altar was placed and the pope’s representative, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, offered Mass for over 6,000 Scouts and leaders.
For over half an hour, President Trump held the Scouts and their leaders spell bound. The Scouts said that he was really cool. He told them how he works with former Scouts every day and has 10 Scouts on his cabinet, three of which were on the stage with him. Further, Vice President Mike Pence was a Scout.
President Trump told the Scouts, “Great Scouts become great Americans. Through Scouting you learn to take responsibility for your own life. You can be anything you want to be, but first you must find the passion for what you want to do. You must have and maintain momentum. Do something that you love, never give up, and you will be successful. Duty, country and God are beautiful words to which you pledge your lives.
“You have contributed 15 million hours of service to help people in our community, and during this Jamboree you will contribute 100,000 hours of service to local communities in West Virginia. The Boy Scouts never let us down. Be proud of the uniform you wear. Be proud of the country you love. America is proud of you. You are very special people. There is nobody like a Boy Scout.”
Archbishop Pierre during his homily brought greetings and praise for the Scouting movement. He spoke of his own youth as a Scout and sang a Scout prayer in French. Bill Davies presented Pope Francis, Archbishop Pierre and Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va., with the St. George Emblem following Communion.
The Scouting movement has faced many challenges in the past few years due to changes in membership policy, but it still receives the highest praise and endorsement at the top level of authority in both church and state. Scouting remains one of the largest and most effective movements of youth ministry to instill the Judeo-Christian ethic into the next generation of citizens and leaders.