Planning for the 2017 Great Rivers Council Jamboree Troop

Jambo Banner - Action 300x600Even though the Jamboree seems way into the future, nearly two years away, there are many, many details to be considered and arranged.  The Great Rivers Council Jamboree Planning Committee is already at work to support the Council Troop.

The most important question is, are you planning to attend?

David Crane of Fulton Selected as Scoutmaster

The Jamboree Planning Committee met recently and confirmed the selection of David Crane of Fulton as the Scoutmaster for the 2017 Jamboree Troop.  Congratulations!

More Planning

The Planning Committee, led by Mike Sykuta as chair, will continue to meet with Scoutmaster Crane to prepare an information fact sheet, registration forms, and to start the arrangements for the Troop to have an extraordinary experience.

Here is information about the Jamboree theme and logo for 2017.

And here is a “starting page” for parents of Jamboree participants.

Get ready to “live Scouting’s adventure!”

Jambo Banner - Action2 702x300

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

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!

GRC-JSP-white

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!

Jambo Day 7 — SM Update

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Al Drago

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Al Drago

A Scout is reverent. That’s the 12th point of the Scout Law. The guys of C140 honored that point by attending worship services this morning–and sitting in the rain for a good part of the service.

We had boys attend three of the larger religious observances (LDS, Protestant and Roman Catholic), all of which were held at the AT&T Summit Stadium. The grey morning skies didn’t disappoint in dropping their moisture on the crowds gathered on the hillside of the stadium for worship. But then, how many United Methodist pastors can claim to have over 10,000 people baptized in one service!

The rains lingered through much of the day, coming and going with brief showers, but it wasn’t enough to interrupt the activities of the Jamboree. Many of the high adventure areas were open to make up for yesterday’s schedule change. There were special activities all over the Summit Center, including a 24’x24′ chess board on which the guys got to play the parts of different pieces in a recreation of a famous chess match. Several side games of chess ensued and Henry participated in a chess tournament. (We’re still waiting to hear the final results of the tournament.) Our Scout Executive and guests were not able to get to West Virginia due to some plane difficulties and the Scouts from California didn’t represent, but the Great Rivers Scouts and several from the Greater St. Louis Area Council did Missouri proud.

Otherwise, boys were all over the Summit today doing various activities. Several did some shopping for souvenirs. Several visited the many information tents and displays for different programs and vendors. Some got into the batting cages. It was a day of kicking around and taking in some of the different experiences the Jamboree offers. And yes, some traded more patches. Thanks to my youngest, I now own the full Lincoln Trails Council set–my home Council where I earned my Eagle.

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Trey Spivey

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Trey Spivey

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Greg Crenshaw

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Greg Crenshaw

This evening, the clouds cleared just enough for us to enjoy one of the best fireworks displays I’ve seen in a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG time. All the Jambo participants watched from their camp site areas as the fireworks were launched from the hill in the middle of the six base camps, so everyone had spectacular views! It was awesome!

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Trey Spivey

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Trey Spivey

Only two more days of the Jamboree. Tomorrow is a free day for the boys to do whatever programs they can. Three of our adult leaders have seats on the white water tomorrow–but adults ride “stand-by’ so we don’t know for sure when we go. We’ll be able to report back for the boys who are going on Tuesday (and for you!) tomorrow evening.

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Edward Bronson

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Edward Bronson

The persistent rain can dampen some spirits, but the boys have been very resilient in making the most of their experience and having lots of fun. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Good night, Jambo!

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Trey Spivey

Photo Credit: BSA photo by Trey Spivey

 

Jambo Day 6 — SM Update

Wow! What a day!

We woke up to news that the schedule for the day had changed. Rather than a full day of high adventure activities and an evening show, the big Celebration of Scouting show was moved to the afternoon because a storm was forecast for the evening. The boys headed off in various directions to do more BMX, scuba, and other activities. They had a good morning. It was my day to stay in camp while the other adults went out to explore the Jamboree, so I made a cup of coffee, read a book, took a nap…the usual Scoutmaster duties.

In the afternoon we headed to the AT&T Summit Stadium for a fantastic show. For the pre-show entertainment, the Jamboree Band performed and the grand champion and runner up of the Scouts Got Talent competition performed (a really good piano player and a dancer, respectively). A teen female artist, Sarah Centeno, came on stage and the boys really enjoyed her set.

Jamboree Today photo by Daniel M. Reck

Jamboree Today photo by Daniel M. Reck

And then the real show began. After some introductory comments, including Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustav, special guest Mike Rowe came on stage as an encore from his 2010 Jamboree appearance and gave an excellent talk! The boys were really pumped and Rowe gave some great advice to the boys about being clean but not afraid to get dirty, and remembering to stay connected–with other people, with the environment, with what’s going on in the world. Then finally, the entertainment highlight brought 3 Doors Down to the stage. They had the place rockin’! And judging by the guys’ responses and some of the Facebook posts I’ve seen, the boys were really amped by 3DD’s performance.

Following the show we headed back to our campsite quickly. The Jamboree weather forecasters called it right. Dark clouds started rolling in just as the show concluded. Our cooking patrol took off for the commissary to pick up our dinner and got back to camp just before the rain started. Then the sky let loose. The dinner consisted of turkey and cheese sandwiches that hadn’t fully thawed along with the usual camp sides (a Nutrigrain bar, some granola, some fruit snacks, and apples). We had our dinner conversation under the dining fly while the wind and rain picked up. I finally decided to head to my tent to ride out the storm and promptly fell asleep. Four hours of sitting on a sunny hillside has a way of draining the batteries.

The rain passed and I could hear the bustle of boys picking up outside. I eventually roused myself from the cot as the boys were getting into their tents. A near-full moon fills the sky and it’s almost a bit chilly. The frogs are singing again. Here’s hoping to an otherwise quiet night.

Tomorrow there will be activity programs in the afternoon in addition to the big Jambo-palooza. C140 has invited boys from St. Louis troops C109 and C146 to join us in a huge chess match against Scouts from the Western L.A. Council to promote the chess merit badge. Our Council Scout Executive, Doug Callahan, and Asst. Scout Executive John Fabsits will be here along with special guest Jeanne Sinquefield, who helped create the BSA Chess merit badge. The boys have been looking forward to participating in a life-size chess tournament, where the scouts will play the part of the chess pieces as well as playing games against other scouts. It should be an exciting addition to all the other Jambo programs.

The boys are already starting to look at Wednesday on the near horizon with a mixture of anticipation and regret. It’s difficult to believe there are only a few more days of Jamboree. But we’re going to make the most of them!

Jambo Day 5 — SM Update

Today we hiked to the summit of The Summit. We were up extra-early as the Invisible People patrol(youngest guys) got up to prepare a breakfast of french toast and bacon. (There are only three hot breakfasts during our 10 days, and two of them were on days we had early starts. Let’s just say getting up early for a hearty breakfast builds character.) Shortly after 7AM, we headed out with our OA guide for Garden Ground Mountain. We first hiked to Base Camp Alpha and the trail head to the summit. That’s roughly a 1.5 mile hike. We then hiked about 3.5 miles up to the summit from there.

The program at the top included a variety of activities, from board games and fields sports to Scottish-style highland games to a “buckskin village” that included black-powder guns and tomahawk throwing to a “pioneering company” with an array of pioneering craft to an OA Indian village and dance team kiva to a replica of an early BSA summer cam1000214_10151495323851759_823642211_np. The summit is also where the Council fire ring that David wrote about is located. In addition to all the activities, there is also a beautiful scenic overlook of the SBR below, particularly of Base Camp Alpha.

We arrived at the top shortly before 10AM. The boys explored some of the programs, but after a couple hours we were interrupted by another mid-day thunderstorm that caused us to follow Safe Scouting guidelines and get the boys out of the open fields on the ridge line. After getting the boys all rounded up and waiting to see how the storm developed, we decided to just hike down the mountain rather than stay hunkered down for a long time on the trails below the summit ridge.

We did end up getting a little wet on the hike back down, but the boys were in great spirits and the light rain actually felt very refreshing. When we rolled back into camp, most of the boys wanted to rest their feet, but a few had other plans in mind including a trip to the trading post and–of course–some more patch trading. We had another storm roll in shortly after our dinner and we had a gentle rain through much of the evening. But now the boys are in their tents; the leaders have debriefed, showered, and gone to bed; and the frogs are singing. Tomorrow is an open activity day for the boys. Many have plans to hit different program areas, including scuba. And tomorrow night is the big Celebration of Scouting at the AT&T Summit Stadium which is supposed to include a huge fireworks display. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and we’ll have a great Saturday at the Jamboree.

Jambo Day 4 — SM Update

Today was a busy day at The Summit for Troop C140 as most of our boys headed out to experience the high adventure programs around the camp. It was a day of excitement for boys who completed the Challenge Course (think a super-cool COPE ropes course), shot shotguns, road BMX bikes, road mountain bikes, enjoyed water adventures or even just learned more about some classic Scout skills like dutch oven cooking.

It was also a day of a little disappointment, as a thunderstorm rolled through the area mid-day–not close enough to get us wet, but close enough to trigger a lightning warning that closed some of the water and aerial programs that some of our guys hoped to do. Given the volume of Scouts each day, they may or may not get a chance to do some of those activities. But they understood that risk ahead of time and are dealing with the disappointment pretty well.

Yours truly spent the morning helping harness boys up for the Challenge Course. I walked Jacob and Trask to the program area just to see where it was and got pulled in to volunteer for the morning. The boys completed the course–and loved it!–well before I was done with my volunteer shift. I hope to cash in my reward of doing the ropes course myself before we leave. After four hours of yanking on harnesses, I didn’t feel like taking on the challenge course, which included several obstacles such as logs suspended 50′ in the air that had to be crossed like stepping stones.

Most of the guys spent the later part of the afternoon in the subcamp playing games and trading patches with boys from around the country. Several actually did laundry! And as of today, everyone has showered at least once. No minor accomplishment for the Scout leaders.

The boys are reaching that point of a long trip where the normal “storming” dynamics set in for new groups. By and large, they are dealing with it well and Brendan has been an excellent ASM for helping work with the boys on those issues. Having our medic, Mr. Ruppar, also paid off again today as a couple of the guys had pretty wicked wipeouts on the mountain boards and mountain bikes. They have some scrapes and bruises, but they were all smiles and showing off their wounds like trophies when they got back to camp from the field medic staff. Todd double checked them and took one up to the subcamp med tent to get some ice, but everyone agreed he’s good to go.

Tomorrow is our trek to Garden Ground Mountain. We will be hiking most of the morning and having some undisclosed program at the mountain’s peak before coming back to camp in the early evening. It will be a long day. Not too rigorous of a hike, per se, but a long day nonetheless.

Evan, our hometown news reporter, submitted his first article through the Jambo press corps to the Columbia Tribune. Keep an eye out there for more from Evan’s perspective. The local news also visited our Day of Service yesterday and have an article on their website.

We are officially half-way through our Jamboree trip, and almost halfway the Jamboree itself. Time is flying, and it’s difficult to imagine what all the boys will be able to do in the second half of the trip. It is a pleasure and a blessing to be here with these young men and my adult teammates. Here’s to a fun and safe remainder of our experience!

 

Jambo Day 3 — SM Update

Today was our Messengers of Peace Day of Service. C140 was assigned to report to the buses at 8AM and we actually arrived a bit early. But even with just 8,000 people going out on DOS today there were long lines waiting for OA guides and buses to get us to our service project. We boarded a bus for an unknown destination, handed the driver a GPS tracking device for our Unit, and received a packet with instructions for our day.

Ghent Elementary School for our Day of Service

Ghent Elementary School for our Day of Service

We ended up being assigned to Ghent Elementary School, which services about 250 kids from pre-K to 5th grade.

The playground needed mulch and their nature trail needed some new signs (which had been made by their Cub Scouts) to mark trees for identification. (It was nice having a forester–ASM Hank Stelzer– in our group!)  The boys got all the  mulch spread around the school, cleaned up the nature trail, and posted new signs for over a dozen trees.

In the process, we made new friends with staff and volunteers from the school who shared with us some history of the Winding Gulf coal region of West Virginia. They also shared some delicious watermelon to cool off after we finished our work. The boys seemed to appreciate the opportunity to help the people of the community and the importance of the work we did both for the kids of the school and the environment.

1003006_10151491501941759_124013974_n  We headed back to camp and were able to get dinner cooked before a brief thunderstorm blew in. The boys seem to be having a pretty good time, but they are excited to hit the program areas tomorrow.  It will certainly be a big day!

Jambo Day 2 — SM Update

Our first FULL day at Jambo 2013 was exciting, hot, and fun!

Our day started with breakfast (a cold breakfast today) and items to be packed for lunches. The Summit is so large that is makes no sense to have the boys coming back to camp to eat lunch each day, so we’re packing lunches that they can eat wherever they are mid-day.

The morning program included the official dedication of The Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve. There was music from Rockbox as we gathered, some “pre-program” music by a West Virginia National Guard band, and a short concert by Taylor Made. The boys I was near were amazed at the number of people sitting in the AT&T Summit Stadium. Imagine 40,000 Scouts doing the wave across a hillside amphitheater, or joining together to recite the Scout Oath. It was awesome! Fun fact: We are now the third largest city in the state of West Virginia.

In addition to the entertainment, there were introductions of dignitaries, including Mr. Bechtel and the Governor of West Virginia, Earl Tomblin. Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and the Volunteer Chairman of the Jamboree, also addressed the Scouts. And then the Scouts and Venturers were unleashed on the Summit for its first official day of program.

Our boys tried a number of the high adventure activities and other programs. I heard tales of BMX biking, skateboarding on the world’s largest skate park, and disc golf. Several boys spent time just exploring the enormity of The Summit and checking out the different program areas. A few have already earned or partially completed merit badges such as Game Design (a newer STEM badge). Mr. Stelzer even volunteered to help at the Canopy Tour and was able to ride the course. He said it was awesome! And of course, the badge trading continued. As an economist, I must say how impressive it is to see the markets appearing all over camp and to see how several of our boys are getting more into the whole trading thing and learning how to make and get the best deals for the patches they want.

Tomorrow is our Messengers of Peace Day of Service. Several of the boys are looking forward to the opportunity to give back to the West Virginia community. It should be a pretty meaningful experience. So it’s off to bed for me! Good night, Jambo 2013!