Task Force concludes National Scout Jamboree
August 6, 2010
- Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates speaks to future leaders
- Boy Scouts participate in jamboree festivities
- Navy officer reunites with son
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. (Army News Service, Aug. 6, 2010) -- The military task force is standing down and Fort A.P. Hill is restoring more than 12,000 acres of land after supporting the 2010 National Scout Jamboree.
Supporting the jamboree and the Boy Scout's 100th birthday was a task force of 2,000 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard servicemembers working with Boy Scouts of America staff and local emergency responders.
United States Northern Command was heavily involved in supporting the celebration, and it gave the command an opportunity to perform its mission, highlighting crisis response and coordination with local, state and federal partners, said Navy Adm. James Winnefield Jr., NORTHCOM commander.
"This event is a wonderful slice of America, where we have 50,000 future leaders together to share outdoor experiences and build character," he said. "It's a privilege to be able to support them."
For one Scout the festivities were bested by a reunion that was five months in the making. Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Pickens chose to spend his time off as deputy chief of civilian military plans with U.S. Forces-Iraq in Baghdad by volunteering to be a safety observer at the Jamboree so he could spend time with his son.
"My family is used to me going out to sea and being gone several months," he said. "But after not seeing them for five months it was just like a homecoming."
Pickens' son, Travis, said this was one of the biggest moments a father and son could share together.
"The feeling of only being able to see him on a webcam and then really seeing him is just unbelievable," Travis said. "Some people would go somewhere else to have a relaxing moment, but he came out to be with the Scouts."
The jamboree featured appearances by NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon who were met with loud applause and cheer from excited Boy Scouts from around the country. The two race car drivers joined individual teams to compete against each other in a first-aid training competition.
"It's awesome to be a part of this and an honor to be here," Gordon said. "To get to see what you have been doing here that last few days, and the excitement you guys have, it's incredible."
When the Boy Scouts weren't being entertained by extreme sports athletes and World Wresting Entertainment superstars, they were able to watch different military exercises such as those by the U.S. Air Force Academy "Wings of Blue" parachute team.
Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Drinkard and his team performed dozens of jumps out of Army National Guard helicopters from between 4,500 and 9,000 feet. Some parachutists used smoke streamers to make their jumps even more elaborate.
The jump teams were honored to be involved in the celebration. "The military and the Boy Scouts share a lot of the same values," Drinkard said. "This is a great place for us to meet a great group of patriotic young men and women and show them what the military is all about."
The Boy Scouts were also able to take scuba-diving lessons from experienced Sailors, learn wilderness survival techniques from Air Force cadets and participate in rock climbing activities with an officer from the XVIII Airborne Corps.
The jamboree was about more than once-in-a-lifetime activities, it was about preparing Scouts for leadership in the future, officials said. Thirty-one Eagle Scouts were presented four-year Army Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarships by Maj. Gen. Arthur Bartell, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command.
"Scouting has been an important part of my personal life," Bartell said. "This jamboree is a significant milestone for scouting, and I wanted to be a part of that and talk to some remarkable young men."
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, an Eagle Scout involved in scouting for more than 50 years, was also on hand to describe his experiences in the Boy Scouts and to explain how crucial scouting is to leadership development.
"As I look out at all of you I see a new generation of worthy leaders," Gates said. "With leaders such as you, America will continue to be the beacon of hope and decency and justice for the rest of the world."
<i>Editor's Note: This article features contributions from Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden, Airman 1st Class Jason Brown, Sgt. Darron Salzer and Lisa Daniel.</i>