National Jamboree: 3,000 LDS participate

Fun, food, friendships and faith were experienced in abundance by more than 3,000 LDS Scouts and leaders during the 1993 National Scout Jamboree here Aug. 4-10.

But the quadrennial event also included a daylong dose of rain accompanied by a tornado some 80 miles away and left more than a few young men drying equipment and sleeping bags well into the night on Friday, Aug. 6.The LDS participants were among the 32,732 Scouts and leaders in the encampment who gathered from every state in the nation and 52 other countries. Many friendships were forged during the event that crossed barriers of citizenship, race, religion and language as youth swapped colorful pins and patches and exchanged meals, left-handed Scout handshakes and participated side by side in myriad activities.

"This is neat!" exclaimed one young LDS member of Jamboree Troop 826 from Salt Lake City as he traded greetings and souvenirs with a fellow Scout from Taiwan. The Salt Lake troop hosted about 15 Taiwanese Scouts for ice cream on Monday evening, Aug. 9.

The bright-eyed Taiwanese youth beamed as he looked at a colorful Salt Lake Council patch, and his similar offering in return evoked a like response. The two then embraced in a bear hug while speaking enthusiastically in English and Mandarin. Others responded to the cross-cultural experience with equal excitement. In another camp, a group of Japanese Scouts spent the entire jamboree with a Utah troop.

These bridges of understanding - coinciding with the jamboree theme of "A Bridge to the Future" - also were erected through shoulder-to-shoulder participation in many other activities.

Jamboree participants also were encouraged to attend their respective religious services and to participate in related activities in keeping with the 12th principle of the Scout Law - reverence. About 80 chaplains, including 10 who were Church members, helped conduct Sabbath services and minister to the spiritual and personal needs of young Scouts in each of four regional camps and 19 sub-camps. Lead LDS chaplains were Elder Jack H Goaslind and Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy, president and first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, respectively.

"We have LDS Scouts here representative of nearly every state and have our chaplains covering all of the sub-camps," explained Elder Goaslind. "We gave each of the young men a pamphlet that ties in the Scout Oath and Law with the scriptures. On Sunday we had a special sacrament meeting for about 3,000 people. (See accompanying article on page 10.) That was a marvelous experience. Watching 48 priests and 120 deacons reverently administer and pass the sacrament to a group that size was very inspiring." Twenty-four teachers from throughout the United States had prepared the sacrament early Sunday morning prior to the meeting.

For many Church members from small units in outlying areas, attending the Sunday meeting was particularly exciting. Drew Van Riper, Christian Science chaplain, told of visiting with a young LDS person in his camp following the Sunday sacrament service who was excited about being part of a Church meeting of that size.

"I was excited to see that exuberance," he said. "It was really wonderful."

LDS chaplain Ken L. Zabriskie, first counselor in the Lake Mary Florida Stake, said a highlight of his duties was visiting, along with chaplains of other faiths, several youth requiring treatment at the Fort AP Hill military hospital. "The interfaith cooperation at the jamboree among leaders and Scouts has been an inspiration to me. While I've been here, the Scout Oath and its emphasis on Duty to God has been constantly on my mind, and I've seen that exemplified many times by many people of all faiths."

A special stamp related to religious observance was given to Scouts who attended their church services - as did the LDS contingent - and shared information with others about their faiths, blessed their food, visited a religious visitors center to learn more of their faith and visited with their chaplains.

"The idea is to focus on the 12th point of the Scout law, which is reverence, and to encourage Scouts to feel comfortable talking about their church freely and to learn to respect others and their beliefs," Chaplain Van Riper added. "We've had literally thousands of Mormon Scouts coming through and getting their stamp. They are very proud of their church and eager to talk about it. I've had a chance to visit with Elder Jack Goaslind and share some ideas with him and learn more about what the LDS Church is doing. It's been exciting for me to learn, as someone who is not really familiar with the [LDST Church."

Excitement was an emotion that seemed to cut across all of the jamboree experiences, from the opening arena show that included Navy fighter planes roaring above a crowd of 50,000 in a patriotic salute, to a mass-participation 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) run the final night of the encampment.

"This is the best time I've ever had in my life," said Travis Martinez, 13, a teacher in the Santaquin 3rd Ward, Santaquin Utah Stake.

Brian Fromm, 13, of Pocatello, Idaho, said the jets flying overhead during the opening show was the highlight for him. His "lowlight" was having to set up camp. He and friends Matt and Paul Romriell, ages 17 and 13, and David Hermansen, 15, were part of an Idaho group that toured several historic sites prior to the jamboree. They all agreed that seeing the historic sites in and around Washington, D.C., deepened their appreciation of the country and its rich heritage.

Other jamboree troops embarked on similar tours. Most of those troops included a mixture of LDS and non-LDS Scouts and leaders, with the ratio varying from very high in Utah and other western states to a sprinkling of Church members in other areas. Several people who had attended previous national jamborees noted that it was exciting to see a sizable number of LDS participants from areas outside the West, evidence of Church growth in various portions of the country.

One adjustment for those from dry climates was the Eastern humidity. "The heat is worse than in Utah," said Wade Belliston of Nephi. "As soon as I stepped off the plane, it was like stepping into a sauna. We are used to it now and are having fun."

Bishop Bryant Christensen of the Fairbanks 3rd Ward, Fairbanks Alaska Stake, attended as a Scoutmaster for the Midnight Sun Council contingent, which included five LDS young men.

"On our way, we visited the Washington Temple and did baptisms for the dead. I was able to do the baptizing. It was a great highlight for these Scouts and for me. It was the first time attending the temple for a couple of them."

The Alaska group also visited a variety of historic sites and had lunch with Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who answered their questions for an hour.

"This is such a great opportunity to grow close to these kids," reflected Bishop Christensen. "This is a highlight of their Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting experience they will never forget."

Joseph Ahuna, Scoutmaster in the Kaneohe Ward, Kaneohe Hawaii Stake, was lead Scoutmaster for a group from the Aloha Council. The contingent included 14 LDS youth among 106 total, and three of 12 leaders were Church members.

Brother Ahuna was a member of the BYU Young Ambassadors performing group a number of years ago. Under his direction, the troop put together an authentic Polynesian show. Before leaving Hawaii, they performed several times for their parents and others. The effort attracted widespread media attention in the islands.

"We wanted to be able to share something of Hawaii with the jamboree," he explained. "When I was a boy, we went to the national jamboree in 1969. We formed a patrol and did Hawaiian shows. We ended up performing at the closing ceremony, which was a great experience."

Brother Ahuna's group put on several performances at the jamboree that were warmly received. But he suggested that especially memorable were several performances given while touring before arriving at Fort AP Hill. They performed for one of their Congressional representatives on the steps of the Capitol, outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, for several of their hosts and tour guides, in a convalescent home and whenever they had a few spare minutes.

"I told the boys to remember this and write it in their journals," Brother Ahuna said. "It's not often you get to perform in such historic places. The people would gather around and really enjoyed it. It was fun.

"We taught the boys that you gain more out of a jamboree experience - and from life - by giving. Sometimes Scouts expect everything to be given them but forget that they should also give. We wanted them to feel that to have a bright future they must give service now. That's what Scouting is all about."

Elder Goaslind mentioned that the array of jamboree experiences build character in LDS youth and help support the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.

"The young men really look forward to this experience and are having a great time," he reflected. "The thing that is impressive to me is watching these young men associate with others from all of the United States and even the world, and to see how well they get along. One young man said to me, `This is wonderful.' I asked him what was wonderful about it and he said he had met friends from all over and that they had agreed to be pen pals. I think that's terrific."

While at the jamboree, Elder Goaslind was interviewed by a number of media representatives - including a crew from Australia filming a documentary concerning Scouting worldwide - about the Church's involvement with Scouting.

"There continues to be a lot of questions asked about the Church's affiliation with Scouting. I think the evidence of that partnership is the number of LDS Scouts and leaders at this jamboree. The relationship continues as strong as ever," he emphasized.

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