In My Own Words
Thoughts on Education, Artistry, and Leadership

My (occasional) blog includes articles I've been invited to contribute and remarks from events at which I have been asked to speak, in addition to comments written specifically for my web audience.

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45,000 people make a lot of trash, use a lot of water, and eat a lot of food. The de facto city which has been erected as the 2010 National Scout Jamboree is no exception.

Each night, tons of food and supplies arrive via semi-truck at the gates of Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, the host site of the jamboree. Hundreds of pallets of bottled water dot the Arena field, ready to be consumed by the 100,000 expected attendees at the Centennial Celebration on Saturday night.

Although these numbers boggling to the mind, the Scouting movement teaches the principles of “Leave No Trace” and “Tread Lightly.” Each principle has an educational activity area dedicated to it along the jamboree’s main thoroughfare. Scouts learn techniques to minimize their impact on the environment and follow the point of the Scout Law that says, “A Scout is Thrifty.”

The Boy Scouts and their U.S. Army hosts have also posted signs around the base which read “Smell a little! Save water.” Trust me, the nose knows; there are Scouts heeding this advice. (Hopefully they are balancing it with a reasonable amount of “A Scout is Clean!”)

It never rains at the National Scout Jamboree. Really, it doesn’t.

Today, the skies opened, pouring buckets upon the 45,000 Scouts, Scouters, and staff assembled at A.P. Hill. The stiff winds bellowed tents and collapsed troop entry gateways. (No one was hurt to my knowledge.)

Yet the damp Scouts’ spirits did not seem dampened. As soon as the skies cleared, and the hot sun turned our corner of Virginia into a sauna, the Scouts jumped into action undeterred. They righted their tents, raised their gateways, and resumed their business with smiles.

Scouting’s national honor society, the Order of the Arrow, teaches that Scouts should be cheerful as directed by the Scout Law, even in the face of tasks and responsibilities which are irksome and tiresome. We learn we should persist through hardship, and do so without letting it wear on our spirits.

All Scouts are united by a common set of values, which I have been exploring this week at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. Each point of the Scout Law is something to aspire to, but one stands out as unique: Obedient.

While being thrifty and brave, or loyal and friendly, are things that someone can use their own initiative to demonstrate, obedience is perhaps the most challenging to live up to.

What does “A Scout is Obedient” even mean?

Ask a Tenderfoot Scout, at the beginning of his Scouting experience, and he might say that it means he has to follow the instructions of his Patrol Leader. Ask that Patrol Leader, who is a First Class Scout, he might say he has to follow the example of the Senior Patrol Leader.

Finally, 31,500 Scouts and their 3,500 Scoutmasters have arrived at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. In hours, Fort A.P. Hill has become the fourteenth largest city in the commonwealth of Virginia.

Although temperatures have cooled to under three-digits, it was still quite warm. Given the amount of logistics involved in instantly moving in nearly 45,000 residents in under twelve hours, hot heads might be expected.

Nothing could be further from reality.

Today, my Jamboree Today colleagues watched as Scouts formed lines reminiscent of old fire bucket brigades, shuttling luggage and equipment from their busses into their campsites in an organized way. Troop mess officers filed through the commissary to pick up their large plastic totes of food—each which included a huge frozen ball of pulled pork large enough to feed 40. The Scouts lent each other a hand, and took care of the whole, setting aside their personal priorities.