Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The Great Jamboree Skidadle
We had an arena show scheduled tonight. The President was supposed to be here. We were briefed the night before that video cameras and cell phones were banned among other items too numerous to mention.
Because of a planned 3:15 PM deployment the scouts had to eat an 11:00 lunch and then begin an early no cook supper at 12:30.
Bad luck with the weather turned this trek into a 5 mile circuit of changing weather.
We mobilized at 3:15 pm and began walking along the planned route on time at 3:45. Conditions at this time were 95 degrees + with 45 percent humidity. A red flag condition was declared by 1:00 but no cancellation was made. I'm going to express my concern about this decision.
We made sure all Scouts were well hydrated and had their Nalgene bottles full to avoid heat exhaustion. They must have drinken plenty because half had to go to the port-a-potties during the trek. We also had them wear the class B uniform and carry their Scout uniform shirt until inside the arena.
The trek was hot, really too hot to be safe. 1721 Scouts held up exceptionally well especially considering we had the longest hike (2.5 miles each way). I think our boys are better acclimated to hot weather than other states. None got heat exhaustion. Many were succombing from other regions however. Many ambulance trips were seen.
Three hours later, moving slowly as if in heavy traffic, we round a corner to enter the arena road. At this time we hear via a QBSA loudspeaker that the arena show has been cancelled due to heat. All scouts need to make their way back to camp.
&!@'?# best describes the frustration we have hearing this announcement. A short while later we hear a more accurate reason. The cold front that cooled off Oklahoma a few days prior finally was in Virginia. The heat, humidity and cold air moving in spawned a severe thunderstorm headed towards us. The secret service decided it was not safe for the President to go and Scout officials decided the storm was too dangerous to continue the show.
We rested the boys the quickest we could and were told we had an hour to beat the storm. We knew of a 40 percent chance for storms today so we secured the campsite for weather just in case. All but 5 made it back - they made it to shelter however being led by numerous Eagle Scouts in our troop. All of them left earlier in the day as a detachment with the Hometown News group.
The storm lasted a short while and busted an upright support on one of our dining flys. A gust of wind picked up a newer style canopy in our neighbor's campsite and hurled it up 20 feet and towards our campsite. It dropped on the edge of one of our wall tents but did not damage the tent. The tubing of the our neighbor's canopy was twisted like a pretzel.
We had a replacement pole and fed the boys a cracker barrel. Coincidentally a cake was ready for us. What you see is the leftover Jamboree cake celebrating my 365th night camping in the Scouting program. Given the hike, it was a great treat to reward their efforts.
The cool front is here and we are promised highs in the mid 80's tomorrow. President Bush wants to try again.