Did you know the U.S. Forest Service has a long connection to the Boy Scouts of America? Roughly 78 percent of Forest Service employees were Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts in their youth; and many scouting projects, including Eagle Scout projects, take place on national forests or grasslands.
“The Boy Scouts of America is a longtime valued partner of the Forest Service,” said DeVela J. Clark, deputy forest supervisor on the Monongahela National Forest. “Scouts have assisted our National Forests and Grasslands with numerous conservation service projects across the country.”
The Forest Service has been a part of the National Boy Scout Jamboree since 1964, when the Jamboree was held at Valley Forge, Pa.
This year, more than 40,000 Boy Scouts attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. Every four years the Jamboree happens, and scouts come from across America and around the world to sleep under the stars, learn new skills, work on merit badges, and make new friends. The first Jamboree was held in 1937. This year’s Jamboree marked the 103 anniversary of Boy Scouts in America. It also marked the first time the Jamboree was held at its new permanent home – Summit Bechtel Reserve, commonly referred to as “The Summit.”
“We think it’s awesome to have the National Jamboree held in West Virginia now and into the future. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the state’s national forest and beautiful landscapes to a wide range of people,” said Clark.
At this year’s Jamboree, Scouts experienced many outdoor and adventure skills: canoeing, ziplining, rock climbing, rappelling, archery, whitewater rafting, shooting sports, skateboarding, mountain biking, bicycle motocross, kayaking, all-terrain vehicle riding, stand-up paddle boarding and more. In recent years, the Jamboree has gone high-tech, offering Scouts the latest in robotics, geospatial mapping and computer technology.
Others had the opportunity to travel north to participate in service projects on the Monongahela, focusing on improving wetland habitat at several newly created vernal pools and two recreation sites.
During the Jamboree, there were several agency exhibits along the Conservation Trail giving the Forest Service a chance to share their conservation education message with each new generation of scouts. The Forest Service exhibit features the Decision Trail, where visitors must make their own decisions about how to manage a specific resource problem, and at the end of the trail they find out the consequences of the decisions they’ve made.
The agency exhibit also includes two smokejumpers demonstrating their equipment, the pulp and paper merit badge, and a tent where scouts can join an internationally known sculpture artist, Jorge Rodriquez, in creating a stone sculpture during the 10-day Jamboree.
There were also several appearances by Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl to assist in re-enforcing conservation values.