Boy Scout Ryan Cornell, 15, of Fairfax Station recently attended the National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill. He was a hometown news correspondent, which means he took notes on his experiences and submitted an article for publication. Here are excerpts:
I was excited because this was my first 10-day camp-out, and I also got to meet kids from all over the United States and even some Scouts from different parts of the world.
Today was officially the first day. Among other things, we explored the jamboree site and got to know the location better so that we wouldn't get lost later in the week. We were told that the tent city was the fastest-growing city in the world; more than 40,000 Scouts, leaders and visitors attended the jamboree.
Though there were many happy memories created today, sadly, four Alaskan Scout leaders died in a tragic accident with the circus tent pole striking one of the power lines.
Today was trading day. There were hundreds of patch traders lining the roads, swapping and selling many coveted patches such as Hooters, Halo, Yoda, Sobe, X-Men, Marvel and Hot Rods sets, just to name a few. Some of the patches that I got were the Grateful Dead/Deaddybear set, the Sesame Place set and the Connecticut Yankee set. That evening I looked over my patches and wondered how so many Scouts could become so addicted to the trading frenzy. I even heard that someone bought a Yoda patch for $500 and someone else traded their iPod for a Halo patch!
The story of the jamboree, besides the electrical accident, was the extreme heat. Every 10 minutes or so, I heard a tip over the loudspeakers to drink lots of water. This was important because people were dropping like flies from heat exhaustion and were being carried off on stretchers. More than 300 Scouts and visitors got sick from the heat, which was in the high 90s. I envied my Dad, Randal Cornell, because he was on the staff of the scuba/snorkel station. He got to work in the cool water and have fun while he was working.
The opening show tonight, which was supposed to feature President Bush, was cancelled due to the weather.
Today we visited the activity centers. The first place was trapshooting or shotgun shooting. With a 20-gauge shotgun, we shot down clay pigeons as we competed with each other.
Then we moved on to the bike-athlon, which I had never done. At the starting gate, the official checks your time on a notecard and signals you to start. After pedaling around the bend and over the hill, you come to the first shooting station. You try to hit targets with an air rifle, and all the misses are counted by holes on the card. After shooting the last shot, you hop on your bike and do the same at the next station. Then you race with all your might down the homestretch to get your end time written down.
Next, at pioneering, I explored the uses for ropes, from building bridges [and] towers [to] tying knots and climbing a variety of ropes with different types of knots.
The last event I could squeeze in was the buckskin games. This was a set of old games that were played by settlers, such as musket-shooting, whiplashing, lasso-roping, knife-throwing and tomahawk-throwing. I also got to use a branding iron for the first time.
As I sat looking at my soles, with all the blisters and calluses on them, I reflected on the walking I have done so far. It seems like I have walked about 10 miles a day.
President Bush finally made it after three tries, speaking at the concluding arena show tonight. The show was awesome; since I was one of the 150 hometown news correspondents, I was in the very first row! I was even closer than some of the cameramen from prestigious news organizations such as CNN, NBC and ABC.
The bands were pretty amazing, such as the Army Band, which played "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas. The president spoke about patriotism, the importance of community and about military service. He recalled how his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, was the den mother of his Scout troop. "It's about the time her hair turned white," he joked.
Today, as we returned to Fairfax County, the jamboree officially ended. The next jamboree is in 2010, the 100th anniversary year of Boy Scouts. Since I will be too old then, I hope to work on the staff at the scuba/snorkel center.
Ryan, a Life Scout in Troop 994, will be a sophomore next month at the new South County Secondary School in Lorton.