Boy Scouts spend money. Their leaders spend money. And when thousands of them gather periodically for a National Scout Jamboree, they become Big Spenders.
On July 29, one-third of Caroline County will turn into a small city of 26,000 Scouts and their leaders, complete with all the support services necessary to keep such a temporary city running for a week. The 10th National Scout Jamboree will continue through Aug. 4.
For Fredericksburg, Caroline County and most of Virginia, the jamboree is an economic windfall that's expected to put at least $6 million into the state's economy, directly and indirectly.
For that kind of money, local and state officials thought their share of this undertaking was worth the effort.
"A super experience!" said Jo Love Willis, director of tourism for the city of Fredericksburg, who's been coordinating jamboree-related activities locally.
"Our officials felt it would be of great economic benefit to have the jamboree here. . . We've spent a lot of time," Willis said.
In 1978, the Boy Scouts of America issued invitatins for bids on the jamboree site. Jamborees are scheduled whenever the Scouts can get one together. As soon as one is over, the next one goes into the planning stages, with an engineering staff of 10 working out of Boy Scouts of America headquarters at Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport.
Representatives of about 10 potential jamoree sites across the country, including Hawaii, made presentations, listing their resources, such as transportation and sewer facilities, water and space. Yorktown, Va., made a presentation, but lost out because it couldn't meet the 5,000-acre space requirement, Willis said.
When the first jamboree was held in 1937, the Mall in Washington was big enough for the Scouts to set up their "tent city."
Fredericksburg has Fort A.P. Hill, however, an Army training area that even offered some extras, such as power lines already installed. One look at the site, Willis said, was enough to convice Scout officials that Fredericksburg would host the 1981 event.
Once that decision was made, Scout engineers swung into action, living up to the Scout be-prepared motto and dividing jamboree needs into segments. Bids were opened for each necessity, said T. J. Van Houten, administrative assistant to the director of the jamboree, and the first contracts were let about a year ago.
Of the jamboree's $6 million impact, about $2 million comes from direct contracts. Most of the rest comes from tourism, Van Houten said. He cited a study indicating that jamboree participants spend about $25 a day and that Scouts and leaders are expected to spend an average of $50 a day just getting to the giant camp-out.
Many Virginia businesses will benefit directly from the jamboree, providing goods and services ranging from bread to sanitation. Neighboring Maryland is getting a share of the profit, too, with direct contracts and indirect tourism dollars.
With 26,000 folks traveling from all corners of the nation to Virginia, a lot of money is spent on transportation, sightseeing and accommodations, Van Houten and Willis said. From Prince William Forest Park to Richmond, campgrounds are booked for times before and after the jamboree, Willis said.
Motels and hotels in towns along Interstate 95 are cutting off reservations, holding open some rooms for other travelers seeking lodging who don't realize they're competing with the Boy Scouts.
Twenty-five busloads of Scouts and leaders will arrive July 25 in Fredericksburg, expecting the grand tour from Willis' office. She's working on getting the 25 tour guides together and promises the Scouts will get the sightseeing they expect.
According to Van Houten and Willis, here are some of the region's businesses that are getting a share of the Scout jamboree pie:
Bill Buttram Photography of Fredericksburg has a contract to provide photo supplies.
Southland Corp. of Falmouth, Va., will produce 57,000 loaves of bread, 19,000 hot dog buns, 10,200 submarine sandwich rolls, 30,828 each of English muffins, danish, cupcakes and dinner rolls, and 3,883 pounds of cakes. Scouts and their leaders will do their own cooking. Southland also is handling receiving and distribution of all the food used at the jamboree.
Ed Reynolds of Woodford, Va., is turning out 34 18-head showers, 25 drinking fountains, 82 water-drawing stations, 41 washing stands and two fish-cleaning stations.
Pryor's Court Refuse Service of Glen Allen, Va., will take care of solid waste disposal. Porta-John Copr. of Utica, Mich., will provide the largest number -- 1,500 -- of chemical toilets ever assembled in one place in the world and the attendant services.
Secondary electrical needs are being handled by Rappahannock Electric Light & Power Co. of Fredericksburg, which will lay extra power lines to staff housing and headquarters.
Associate Builders Inc. of Hyattsville is providing shelving, partitions and 2,900 tables upon which the Scouts and leaders will eat their Southland-provided food.
Several other contracts are still to be let for services and goods, such as dairy products. And not all the things necessary to set up a jamboree are contracted. The Scouts first ask for services or goods to be donated. The Army, in the spirit of cooperation, got into the act and helped build a 100,000-seat arena at Fort A.P. Hill as part of a training exercise, Willis said.
The State of Virginia has gone so far in encouraging the jamboree that the legislature granted the Scouts a break on sales and use taxes for many of the items they had to buy. After the jamboree closes, leftovers such as canoes, bows and arrows, plumbing and lumber will be sold to whomever comes by and pays for them. The Boy Scouts of America will pay sales tax on that.
Hey, Big Spenders. . .