Boy Scouts fete Centennial at ultimate summer camp with Wi-Fi
BOWLING GREEN, Va. — More than 45,000 Boy Scouts and scoutmasters gathered Saturday evening for the 2010 National Scout Jamboree as the Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th anniversary — with technical upgrades such as Wi-Fi.
Over the past week thousands of Scouts trekked from all over the nation and around the world to Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia to take part in the ultimate summer camp. Here, Scouts can earn merit badges, participate in special activities, and make new friends.
William D. Boyce, the founder of the Boy Scouts, couldn't have imagined some of the changes as the organization adjusts to the digital age. Among them is Wi-Fi. Thanks to AT&T, a major phone carrier, Scouts at the jamboree have unlimited Wi-Fi access, and can call home or update their Facebook accounts.
"I would have preferred to leave my phone at home," said Ryan Jackowski, 15, of Olathe, Kan.
Jackowski, who is attending his first jamboree, said that when he's on a campout he enjoys being away from his phone and other technology.
While Scouts have access to the new technology to reach home, scoutmasters can make use of a texting program to send out emergency notices in the event of severe weather or an accident.
"It made it a lot more convenient having cell phones," said a former Scout, Curt Clark, 63, of Cicero, Ind.
Clark, who is attending his second jamboree as staff, said the new technology allowed him to reconnect with a friend he had not seen for over 20 years.
"I think Scouting has done a good job of keeping up with the times," Clark said.
The National Scout Jamboree ordinarily occurs every four years, but was postponed by a year so it would fall on the 100th anniversary year. It will take place again in 2013, but will move to Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., which will become the permanent home for the National Scout Jamboree as well as the organization's fourth high-adventure base.
"It was amazing to see the large amount of Scouts and the large amount of tents and to see how well choreographed things are," Clark said.
The first national jamboree in 1937 drew 27,232 scouts, and the latest, 45,000, but according to Jackowski some things haven't changed.
"It still has the same qualities that started it," Jackowski said, "the Scout oath and the Scout law."