Home Again, Home Again …

Thorne - Scoutmaster Sykuta waves featuredTodd asked if I would be writing one more Jambo update tonight. I hadn’t planned on it, but it seems fitting–or a habit by now–to sit down at the keyboard at the end of the day and share some thoughts. The big difference: tonight’s shower was not “ambient” and I’m sitting at the computer in the comfort of my home rather than on my cot!

It IS good to be home. Sure, the hot water in the shower is nice, as is the comfort of my own bed (in which I briefly lied down before deciding to write this). It’s good to be back in familiar surroundings with familiar smells–other than several-day-old wet teenage boys. And it’s good to know that, if it were to rain tonight, I don’t have to worry about stepping out of my room and getting wet and muddy on the way to the bathroom. But most of all, it is good to be home with family whom we haven’t seen for 12 days. And I could see just how happy the guys’ families were tonight to have the boys home.

But at the same time, I’m missing my family of the past two weeks. During that time, the guys of Troop C140 were a family of sorts. We grew together as we traveled cross-country; as we shared in meals and shared in conversations–especially our thorns and roses; as we worked together to accomplish our tasks, whether they be setting up camp, cooking, cleaning up, or our day of service; and as we endured the challenges of weather, long walks, and schedule changes. Many new friendships were forged and many memories made. And like any family, we had some issues along the way, but we got over them–at least enough to get through the trip without too much fret.

I feel very blessed for having had the opportunity to spend the past 12 days with this group of guys. I learned a lot about the guys and about myself. I got to see some wonderful examples of what Scouting is all about. I learned how to be a better Scoutmaster–at least I hope so–not just with C140 but with my home troop as well. I got to know some really exceptional young men and some outstanding adult leaders, and these guys helped me to grow as a leader, as a Scouter, and as a person.

I cannot express just how thankful I am for my ASM team. When you bring together four different adults with different Scouting backgrounds and their own perspectives, personalities and leadership attitudes, it often makes for some difficult adjustments as expectations and perspectives don’t always fit together easily. In all our planning over the past year and in the time we spent together the past two weeks, I cannot recall a time that we really had any “storming” in our adult leadership team. Todd, Hank and Brendan each brought tremendous skills, knowledge and experience with them and we complemented each other very well. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to work with or for better friends to be made.

So while I’m glad to be home–very glad, indeed–it’s not without some sense of missing my C140 family. The good thing is that we all have the opportunity to maintain our new friendships as we continue in our Scouting adventures. There are more camp outs to be experienced, more high adventure to be undertaken, and there’s no reason why this has to be the last time that any of our group shares in the journey on the Scouting trail.

I look forward to seeing these young men continue on their paths toward Eagle. I hope this Jamboree experience has rekindled or intensified their passion for Scouting and all it offers. And as I told several boys tonight as we parted, I look forward to receiving announcements for Eagle Courts of Honor in the coming months and years.

Thanks to David Thorne and Mike Dimond, our Council and Staff Jamboree Coordinators, for giving me this opportunity and for all their assistance in making this trip possible. Thanks to the office staff at the Great Rivers Council office for all their work in processing registrations, ordering supplies, handling inquiries, and taking care of all those administrative details. Thanks to Don, our driver, for being so gracious, diligent and friendly in his responsibilities. And most importantly, thanks to the families of my C140 family who made it possible for their sons–and husbands–to share in this experience.

God bless you all. See you on the Scouting trail!

Yours in Scouting,

Mike Sykuta

Best-in-Class Transportation from White Knight, Columbia, MO

Cool and Safe Travel

The Great Rivers Council 2013 Jamboree Troop C140 greatly appreciates their bus coach driver Don and the cool transportation contracted through White Knight of Columbia, MO!

Thanks Don!

White Knight Driver Don

White Knight Setra 2013 Jamboree

White Knight Setra 2013 leaving

Great Rivers Council 2013 Jamboree Troop C140 Participants

The Participants of Great Rivers Council Jamboree Troop C140

2013 Jamboree Troop C140

Great Rivers Council 2013 Jamboree Troop C140

The Alpha Patrol

2013 Troop C140 Alpha Patrol

2013 Jamboree Troop C140 Alpha Patrol

The Hazardous Patrol

2013 Troop C140 Hazardous Patrol

2013 Jamboree Troop C140 Hazardous Patrol

The Invisible People Patrol

2013 Troop C140 Invisible People Patrol

2013 Jamboree Troop C140 Invisible People Patrol

Youth Leadership

2013 Troop C140 Leadership Youth

2013 Jamboree Troop C140 Youth Leadership

Adult Leadership

2013 Troop C140 Leadership Adults

2013 Jamboree Troop C140 Adult Leadership

For Great Rivers Council Jamboree Troop C140, It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning

It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning of a Lifetime

PreparedForLife-fleur-de-lis-logoThe mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Experiences for young men and women through the Scouting program, like the 2013 Jamboree, help accomplish the vision of Scouting to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

For those of you that were in the Great Rivers Council Jamboree Troop C140, I hope you have many once-in-a-lifetime memories from the Jamboree experience.  Combine the memories, experiences, and newly forged friendships and surely it’s not the end, it’s the beginning of a lifetime of new opportunities.

Great Rivers Council 2013 Jamboree Troop C140

Great Rivers Council 2013 Jamboree Troop C140


The 2013 Jamboree experience was designed as a world-class program that included many opportunities for diverse, intense, and high-energy experiences.

Yet even the best program requires the persistent effort of youth and adult leaders, and the parents and families of participants and leaders, to support the activities.  A best-in-class program requires the best people to make it real.

Thank You

I offer my most sincere thank you to the parents and families of the youth and adult participants of Great Rivers Council Jamboree Troop C140.  Without your assistance and encouragement, no one in Troop C140 would have been able to attend the Jamboree.

I also thank the adult leaders.  Mike, Todd, Hank, and Brendan provided outstanding service to others through their leadership and actions.

I thank the thousands of volunteers and Scout professionals who worked to plan and implement the Jamboree experience at The Summit.

And the success of the Jamboree Troop requires the support of the Council professionals and staff, the planning committee that began making arrangements over two years ago, and the many providers of transportation, lodging, and equipment that is necessary for the Troop to attend.  I thank you all and ask, are you ready to start for the 2017 Jamboree?


It’s All Over Except For The Packing

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Ron Kuenstler

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Ron Kuenstler

The 2013 National Jamboree is over. That is, except for the final packing.

Today the boys had a lot of different exciting activities. Four boys got up extra early to get in line for one of the zip lines, hoping to get a turn on the line before their white water rafting. Unfortunately, a lot of other boys seemed to have similar ideas about getting out early and after standing in line for a couple hours, our guys realized there was no way they could get through the zip line in time.

Most of Troop C140 spent the morning up at The Cloud, a STEM-based area with a lot of demonstrations and hands-on activities around science and technology. Many of the boys tried the dragon breath. No, that has nothing to do with not brushing their teeth all week (though I can’t promise they all did that regularly either). The dragon breath involved a graham cracker that had been soaked in liquid nitrogen. After eating the cracker, the boys blew smoke like a dragon. Some also compounded different concoctions, tried some electricity experiments, took part in a virus transmission simulation, and witnessed a pressurized water bomb. It was pretty cool.

About 17 of the boys headed to white water rafting at Noon, leaving 12 boys in camp for the afternoon. Three of those guys got to do the Big Zip. a 3,000′-plus long zip line from one ridge top, across Bravo Lake some 150′ below, and traveling up to 60 mph. The rest took in various activities or did some last minute shopping for souvenirs. The white water guys came back very pumped about their ride and the fun they had goofing off in the river.

Once everyone was back in camp we started the process of packing for home. Boys started cleaning out their tents, gathering all their personal items, cleaning out their tents, packing their duffle bags and backpacks, cleaning out their tents…you get the picture.

After an all-American dinner of hot dogs, chilli, macaroni salad and apple pie, the guys started the camp packing in earnest. The Invisible People had KP and worked extra duty to clean all the pots and pans, inside and out, to get ready for packing in the equipment boxes. All the cooking and kitchen equipment as well as the general camp supplies were loaded. The youth leaders decided to have all the boys pack up their cots, consolidate into 8 tents (from 15), and drop the remaining youth and supply tents. At present, we have 8 youth tents, 4 leaders’ tents and cots, and a dining fly to pack up in the morning. Adults’ alarms are set for 4AM so we can pack up our extra stuff. The boys will be up and moving by 4:30 to finish their packing.

We will marshal all our personal equipment to our subcamp headquarters by 7AM. Our bus driver is supposed to be allowed onto the property between 6:30 and 7:00, which should have him at Charlie 1 sometime not long after 7:00. We will load our gear, take our muddy and wet shoes off, and get on the bus.

Our plan is for a late-morning brunch in Lexington, KY, and a short dinner stop in Mt. Vernon, IL. We will have the boys start calling when we approach Wentzville to let parents know about when we should arrive in Kingdom City. The current plan is between 9:30 and 10:00.

The boys are ready for the trip home–and I’m pretty sure the adults are too. It has been a very fun Jamboree, despite the weather issues we dealt with. The boys all seem to have had a great time and made the most of the circumstances. But it’s been a long trip. Everyone is tired and some of the boys’ patience with one another can wear a bit thin. The guys are ready to be in their own beds and taking hot showers. Even after 9 days, I must say I still am not acclimated to these “ambient showers”.

So this is the last blog post on the last day of the inaugural National Jamboree at The Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve. It has been a blessing to have the opportunity to share this experience with this group of boys and great team of adult leaders. But don’t take it personally when I say that I’m looking forward to you greeting your boys tomorrow night. 😉

Signing off from the 2013 Jamboree…good night, and good Scouting!


2013 Jamboree Pictures and News, Day 9

Pictures and News About the Jamboree, Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Greg Crenshaw

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Greg Crenshaw

The Big Zip

A highlight of the extraordinary experiences at the Jamboree, and the ongoing high-adventure opportunities at The Summit Bechtel Reserve, are the Zip Lines.

Bonsai Designs was chosen as a “best-in-class” provider to design and construct the many Zip Lines at The Summit site.

2 Big Zip Rides

  • One “Big Zip” spans a distance of over 3,000 feet, with 5 side-by-side zip lines;
  • The second Big Zip involves 10 zip lines, splitting equally from a top launch tower and spanning over 1,000 feet to two separate landing platforms (the launch is at the back of the Stadium);
  • The launch and landing platforms are all custom-designed;
  • Together, the Big Zip rides can host almost 1,400 participants in an 8-hour day;
  • It is projected that 9,720 people will experience the Big Zip Rides during the 2013 Jamboree.

Canopy Tour Zips

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Shane Noem

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Shane Noem

The Canopy Tour opportunities (that use zip lines as part of the tour in the trees) will provide:

  • 3.5 miles of aerial adventure, using almost 15 miles of cable;
  • 12 Canopy Tours, with 60 individual zip lines, that can host over 1,200 participants in an 8-hour day;
  • It is projected that 13,968 people will experience a canopy tour during the 2013 Jamboree.

Ready to Try It?

If you can’t experience the Zip Line yourself, try these videos to get a feeling of what the Zips are about:

Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive, Does the Zip

Jamboree Today Zip Line Video

Bonsai Designs Turns Plans Into Off-the-Chart Fun


Check Out the Daily Video Newscast from Jamboree Today

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jambo Day 8 — SM Update

Today was our next-to-last day at Jamboree and the boys were all out looking for new opportunities and adventures around The Summit. The weather cooperated pretty well until the late afternoon, allowing the guys to get in a lot of different activities. A team took on the aquatic Wipe Out course (think the tv show) and went paddle boarding.

Photo Credit: BSA photo

Photo Credit: BSA photo

One dedicated and patient Scout waited in line almost all day to ride one of the Summit Center zip lines–something he says was a highlight of his trip. I wasn’t able to get a run-down on all the guys, but they all seemed to have had a good day by dinner time.

BSA Al Drago - Whitewater rafting

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Al Drago

Mr. Ruppar, Mr. Bagby, and I got to check out the white water rafting today. The section of river we covered had several Class II rapids and a lot of slower places that allowed us to get into the river and float along a bit. Our guys who do white water tomorrow will raft the next section of the river, which the guides indicated had a good Class III rapid on it. I’m sure they’re going to have a great time, judging by the responses of the boys who were on the river with us today.

As the afternoon drew to a close, we had a strong storm pop up. There was no lightning, but there were high winds and a lot of rain for a short while. Jacob and Conner got caught in the downpour as they were transporting our food supplies back from the base camp commissary. I wish I had a picture of the shocked look on Jacob’s face as he came under the dining fly. The rain broke long enough for us to get dinner cooked and cleaned up before another shower rolled through. Then the clouds parted as a beautiful full moon rose over the mountains.

The camp site is getting a little swampy with all the rain. Shoes and boots are muddy and wet. But the tents have stayed dry and the guys are making the most of it.

Tomorrow is our last day of Jamboree. The Scoutmasters and SPLs were briefed this evening on our check-out plans and procedures. We will begin packing up our camp supplies tomorrow afternoon and evening. Our departure time Wednesday is 7AM, so we aim to get as much of the camp broken down and packed back up before we go to bed so we have as little as possible to pack up in the wee hours of the morning.  But before that, we have another day of programs, white water rafting, and for three lucky guys, a ride down the Big Zip (weather permitting). It should be an exciting day and a great way to wrap up our Jamboree. Good night, all!

Daily Video Newscast from Jamboree Today, Monday, July 22, 2013

Check Out the Daily Video Newscast from Jamboree Today

Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Jamboree Pictures and News, Day 8

Pictures and News About the Jamboree, Monday, July 22, 2013

Be Extraordinary

Is there a normal day at the 2013 Jamboree?  From what I’ve seen from news, images, and heard from the Scoutmaster reports, I don’t believe there is a normal day.

As all the participants consider what to do before the last day on Tuesday, every day must be extraordinary!  Here are three examples of extraordinary at the 2013 Jamboree that caught my attention:

  1. “The Rocks” (with the “Leap of Faith),” the largest outdoor man-made climbing structure in the world;
  2. “The Park,” a 10,000 square-foot skateboarding area, and the second-largest outdoor skate park in the world;
  3. “The Ropes,” an elevated challenge course.

1.  “The Rocks” and the “Leap of Faith”

Photo Credit: BSA photo

Photo Credit: BSA photo

I think the Leap of Faith is one of the coolest events I’ve ever seen.  Using a self-belaying device, the participant leaps off a platform and descends while traveling along a short cable line.

Eldorado Climbing Walls built The Rocks climbing structure.  Watch at about 56 seconds into the following video for the Leap of Faith:

The video from the Stadium Show also shows Scouts on the “Leap of Faith” soon into the video:

The world’s largest climbing structure has:

  • The “Leap of Faith,” where participants leap into the air from a height of 32 feet and are safely lowered to the ground by the TRUBLUE Auto Belay;
  • Two rappelling towers with a total of 36 rappelling stations at a height of 32 feet (6 stations are dedicated “leap of faith” stations);
  • Three climbing fins with 68 manual belay stations at heights from 21-30 feet;
  • Two climbing fins with 33 TRUBLUE Auto Belay stations at heights from 25-35 feet;
  • One 25-foot high climbing fin with 8 climbing stations (6 manual, 2 auto-belay);
  • Six freestanding boulders with over 50 stations and an average height of ten feet.

The Boulder Cove area incorporates over 280 linear feet of rock climbing walls ranging for 19’ to 36’ in height, including:

  • 12 TRUBLUE Auto Belay backed up rappel stations;
  • 72’ linear foot rappel deck;
  • 25 TRUBLUE Auto Belay backed up climbing stations;
  • Three distinct boulders averaging 13’ in height.

Extraordinary at the Jamboree, times 1.

2.  “The Park,” Skateboarding

Jamboree Today quotes the designer of the skate park:  “The Park is the size of an aircraft carrier and is ranked No. 2 in the world for outdoor skate facilities,” says Aaron Spohn, founder of Spohn Ranch Skateparks.

The manager of “The Park,” Ed Wolf, was quoted in the Beckley, WV Register-Herald to say “We have 583 skateboards, 1,030 pads and 1,500 helmets…”

Watch some of the staff at the park on YouTube:

Extraordinary at the Jamboree, times 2.

3.  “The Ropes” Challenge Course

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Tom Copeland

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Tom Copeland

In Jamboree Today, the challenge course at The Ropes is described as “Fifty feet above the ground, with a only a thin cable beneath his or her feet, balance ropes barely in reach, with just a safety harness to calm the nerves, each Scout’s or Venturer’s task is simple: Just make it across to the next platform.”

Photo Credit: BSA photo

Photo Credit: BSA photo

Photo Credit: BSA photo

Photo Credit: BSA photo

Extraordinary at the Jamboree, times 3.









More Fireworks from the 2013 Jamboree

Can’t Resist More Fireworks

These are the best firework images that I’ve ever seen.  Troop C140 was there to see and hear the excitement!

And another YouTube video of the finale:


Photo Credit: BSA photo by Shane Noem

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Shane Noem


Photo Credit: BSA photo by Shane Noem

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Shane Noem