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

My blog includes my #BuildingBetterBrains project, 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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For months, tens of thousands of young men in all fifty states and twenty-nine countries have been preparing to attend the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating one hundred years, and the jamboree has been its pinnacle event.

None of this would be happening were it not for a simple act of kindness. One young Scout, in 1907, helped one lost business man lost in the fog of London. William D. Boyce, the lost American traveler, was so impressed that he learned about the Scout’s organization and brought it to America.

Without that one act of kindness, the Boy Scouts of America would never have been founded, and likely neither would the Girl Scouts of the United States. Millions of young men and women would have missed the opportunities for leadership development, life skills training, and lessons in how to work with others.

“I’m going to tell you something I don’t tell very many people,” said Eagle Scout Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s popular program, Dirty Jobs. “My dad took—no, he kidnapped me—when I went to my first Scout meeting.”

Rowe was addressing a crowd of over 70,000 Scouts and guests tonight at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The event celebrates Scouting’s one hundredth anniversary in America.

He described a game that he was pulled into playing as being “designed by an idiot.” It involved swinging a bag full of wet rags around in a circle on a 12-foot rope. The Scouts standing in the circle try to jump as the bag passes. “And if you miss, the bag slams into your ankles and knocks you down,” Rowe said.

“So I was in Boy Scouts for two minutes and I had a bloody nose,” he said.

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.