Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger , Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director
In my last article, I talked of how our dream to take our Troop 155 (“The Best Alive”) to the 1973 BSA National Jamboree became a reality.
We took our time getting from our Arizona home up to the Jamboree in northern Idaho. We stopped for a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. I still chuckle at a photo I took of our thirteen boys with only their backsides to the camera as together they looked down – bent over – over the guard rail looking down to the river below. That photo was fun to show after we got home and at a parent’s meeting. “There’s me!” each boy said proudly. (And I wonder why I can’t locate the photo now!)
Our second night was spent at Richfield, Utah. We stayed in a church yard and did our cooking on our Jamboree charcoal stoves there on the parking lot. The next two nights we stayed at a campground in Salt Lake City.
We stayed in Salt Lake City over Sunday so that we did not have to travel on that day. That day also turned out to be a “fasting” day for our church. The Scouts were less than thrilled when we reminded them of the 24-hour fast and our intent to observe it.
We spent Sunday morning at a church near Salt Lake’s LDS Temple Square and that turned out to be quite the experience. The church congregation was almost entirely older people. They all cried (literally) as the fifty two of us marched in – wearing our complete Scout uniforms. Many of the folks who were shedding tears told us that they had not seen that many young people in years.
We spent the afternoon at the Temple Square visitor’s center and had a little church meeting of our own there – with the permission of the Center leaders. Later we went to dinner at a nearby smorgasbord restaurant where we broke our fast and ate once again. The boys all thought that they were going to die of hunger before the meal. Then when they saw all of that food, they piled their plates up about six to eight inches high. They immediately chomped down and ploughed into the food. Their eyes were bigger than their now shrunken stomachs, however. Some of them literally turned green as they were so overstuffed and as they looked at the rest of the food that went uneaten. It was really quite a comical scene.
The next day we again headed north. We spent the night in Montana at a military base. There were Scouts there from all parts of the country. It was fun to see the operation there at the base. The next day after that, we drove to Farragut State Park – located at the top of Idaho’s panhandle. The whole area there was converted into one gigantic tent city of Scouts.
The first thing that we noticed as we entered the camp was an umbrella tent flying or whipping around high in the air on one rope pegged to the ground. The wind was blowing hard and the tent was circling the sky on that one tether. We later learned that the tent was the KYBO (toilet) tent belonging to the Canadian Scouts who were camped near us. I guess the wind had whipped the tent off – even as some poor Canadian Scout was in their doing his duty.
We were right on the western edge of the massive camp (of some 28,000 boys and leaders) so we saw all of the people … and huge amounts of dust … coming into camp. We also got the full force of the fierce winds which howled constantly all while we were there. The area had not had rain there for over forty days and everything was very dry. That is what made the dust so horrible.
Each campsite at the Jamboree (or in our case our troop) was urged to create a campsite entry or gate to welcome visitors and to tell who we were. Being from Arizona we wanted something representative of our area. We decided to feature four Saguaro Cactus men (the Saguaro cactus is the cactus variety that stands twenty or more feet tall and has many long arms.) We put the official Jamboree red Scout berets on their heads. Two of the men were on each side of the campsite and they had red ropes strung between the cactus men and to the other side. Their stickery arms had a friendly wave for everyone who passed by. At the Jamboree we had a lot of comments on our Saguaro men and everyone noticed our sign which told who we were and where we were from as it hung from the red ropes strung between the cactus men.
Of course on any outing, every boy Scout is crazy and wants to go swimming if there is a lake or stream. At this Jamboree we camped on the banks of Lake Pond Oreille. We waited in line one day for a couple of hours just to be able to swim in the FREEZING Lake Pond Oreille. What a mistake! That has got to be the COLDEST water that I had ever experienced in my entire life (and I have been in some pretty cold water at summer camps). It was SUPER COLD – to give a great understatement. We got a headache just being in the water for a couple of minutes.
That brings up the subject of the showers. These were also extremely cold. I am sure that they must have pumped the water straight from the bottom of that lake and into the showers. Then, to make matters worse, we would be dust-blown just trying to walk back to camp after the shower. We’d be dirtier when we got back to camp than when we got into the shower.
These showers were also the subject of many a humorous conversation by the throngs of Jamboree visitors. The main frame of the apparatus was made of 2×4” boards. A sheet of orange plastic was then rolled around and stapled onto the frame around these boards. The orange plastic was placed above the shower platform about eighteen inches – and extended up about three feet. When I stood in the shower, my legs from the knees down showed through underneath the tight sheeting. And then my chest and above showed above the plastic. Add to this image that of a naked silhouette against the plastic and the scene was a total scream. This became an unusual conversation piece to all who passed by and saw the scene. What a hoot! And to make matters worse, as we showered, we could see and hear many lady visitors pointing out the unique scene to their daughters as they passed by together. They really got a show that day.
One of the top leaders from our church was at the Jamboree for the entire week as a camp chaplain. He made a point to go around to meet all of the Scouts belonging to our church. One day he rolled into our camp on his bicycle. The camp was a filthy mess from all of the dust and wind that kept the tents down more than up.
Scoutmaster Jim and I recognized the visiting authority at once – Elder Vaughn J Featherstone – and went into a state of shock because of our campsite mess. We did have a good visit with him but as he left, one of the boys asked, “Who was that man?” … “Uh, you mean that you don’t know?” we asked. Anyway, we were horrified. We hoped that the leader remembered the visit but not the state of affairs in which he found us in our dust bowl.
When the wind and dust were not killing us, we really did have a nice campsite. I guess I’ll go ahead and admit that it was quite impressive. I was Scoutmaster Jim’s Assistant Scoutmaster by this time and he and slept in a large white wall tent. Our Scouts were camped as two patrols – in our new Baker tents – in a semicircle around us.
We had made little name tags which we posted on small poles in front of each tent and with these we could tell who occupied each of the spacious tents. Our Saguaro cactus men looked great at our gate entry. We had a lot of good comments about our Jamboree home.
Everyone at the Jamboree wore a complete Scout uniform consisting of a short sleeve shirt, red beret, and Scout shorts and knee socks (with those lovely garters and tabs). There were about six inches of our legs that were not covered by either the sock or the shorts. We really got sunburned there as we wore our uniforms through the Jamboree – and our 19-day trip. Consequently, our legs were very sore. My sunburn was so deep that I could still see the six-inch sunburned band for nearly two years after the Jamboree. It was a funny reminder of the Jamboree, however, and it made for interesting conversations when my legs were revealed.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin The Scout Blogger
See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger. Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”, and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read! Find Kevin on Facebook at: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.
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