Scouts get a jump on jamboree

Boy Scouts from the Verdugo Hills Council had a dry run on Saturday of what they'll be doing on their first day at the National Jamboree later this month at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

Members put up their tents and eating areas and built their gateway, a wooden entrance to their individual campsite, decorated with icons that signify the Glendale and Burbank area, at the Boy Scouts' Camp Verdugo Oaks in Castaic.

Thirty-six boys were chosen from the council's troops in Glendale, Burbank, La Crescenta and surrounding areas to attend the jamboree from July 26 to Aug. 4, which is a special year in that it's the 100th anniversary of the U.S. organization. The group of young men are now known as Troop 803, said Scoutmaster David Potter. Forty-six Boy Scouts filled out applications.

"Making the final selection was one of the hardest nights of my life," he said.

They will be accompanied on the trip by four adults, he added.

The troop leaves July 19 for New York, and before the jamboree it will take a weeklong tour of historical sites, including the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and Times Square, before traveling to Philadelphia and on to Gettysburg and Hershey, Penn.

Saturday's event at Camp Verdugo Oaks was called a Shake Down. It offered Troop 803 a chance to practice setting up their campsite as it will be when they arrive at Fort A.P. Hill, a military training facility used since World War II. On Sunday, they broke down the campsite and loaded all their gear into a 53-foot truck that the Scouts won't see until their first day at the jamboree.

"It's a chance to make sure all the tents are in good condition and all the parts and pieces are there," Potter said. "They will be cooking their own breakfasts and dinners on their stoves."

Lunch will be brought to them at the jamboree area, which could be two or three miles away from their base camp, he added.

The jamboree is held every four years, and will bring together 38,000 Scouts from around the country.

"A lot of what goes on at the jamboree re-enforces what we teach in Scouting," he said. "There will be over 100 merit badges offered, such as scuba diving, whitewater rafting, rock climbing and rappelling and running in a 5k."

A special area called the Native American Village will have the Order of the Arrow members, a Scouting honor society that teaches students how to make American Indian clothing. Another area will offer instruction on black powder weaponry used during the Civil and Revolutionary wars, he added.

"They teach Scouts how to use the weapon and give them a chance to fire it off," Potter said.

The jamboree is something like going to Disneyland, but a little more challenging, he added.

"The jamboree is a multi-sensory dose of the best that the Scouting programs have to offer," said Scout Executive Jon Maeda.

Boy Scouts' parents will be able to keep tabs on what their sons are doing on the Facebook site.

Parent Cherie Armstorff said the whole experience will be a trip of a lifetime for her son Griffin, who is in Burbank Troop 209. It's his first jamboree.

"He's been in Boy Scouts since he was 6 years old and he's now 13," she said. "Griffin is really into Scouting, and this is the ultimate Boy Scout experience. I expect a different boy to come back from the jamboree. I think he will be more grown up — more mature."

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