Since the foundation of Scouting, Jamborees have played a significant role in both BSA National and World Scouting. Due to the COVID pandemic, the National and World Scout Jamborees were held within weeks of each other this summer.
Part of the Vanguard International Scouting Association’s mission is to represent Latter-day Saint Scouters at events like these. Vanguard sponsored Latter-day Saint exhibits at both the BSA National and World Jamborees to fulfill that mission.
The National Jamboree featured a “Duty to God and Country” area, with exhibits from various denominations involved in US Scouting. The Vanguard exhibit focused on Latter-day Saint beliefs and the Vanguard Scouting religious emblems. As in past Jamborees, we had a medallion called the “Be A Light Award” that Scouts, Scouters, and visitors could earn by completing six requirements – one requirement from each of the six focus areas for the Vanguard Duty to God Award.
When individuals completed the award, all activity stopped in the booth as it was announced that they had completed all requirements. All cheered and applauded as the award was placed around the recipient’s neck. It was a beautiful moment throughout the Jamboree. We awarded 675 medallions during the National Scout Jamboree. The staff of Latter-day Saint volunteers did a fantastic job of helping participants feel the Spirit, even when they didn’t know that’s what it was.
Additionally, Vanguard sponsored both the Genealogy and Family Life Merit Badge exhibits. Scouts had the opportunity to earn both merit badges with staff ready to help them every step of the way. With assistance from FamilySearch, 236 Genealogy merit badges were earned with an additional 438 “partials.” 16 Family Life merit badges were completed, with an additional 168 partials.
Vanguard Scouting invited Gary & Laura Dollar to the Jamboree to renew their inspiring exhibit of hand-carved bolo ties. They held several sessions with Scouts, re-committing them to uphold the Scout Oath and Law while giving away 750 bolo ties!
Vanguard also sponsored “West Virginia Day” at the Genealogy merit badge exhibit, which included a WV String Band and a live oral history interview with WVU President Gordon Gee, a Latter-day Saint and member of the BSA National Executive Board. Two outstanding Latter-day Saint Scouts conducted the interview – Sam Gray and Izzy Clements.
Vanguard also organized a Latter-day Saint Chaplain Corps serving throughout the Jamboree sub-camps, ministering to numerous Scouts and administering priesthood blessings where needed.
A highlight of the Jamboree was our Sunday religious service attended by over 400 Scouts and Scouters, including those of other faiths. It was a wonderful, spiritually rich experience – an authentic “mountain-top” experience.
By Neal Robison and Charles Dahlquist