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The 2013 BSA Jamboree at The Summit (Photo courtesy of BSA)

MOUNT HOPE, W.Va.––The UMC provided vital lay and clergy leaders for the July 15-24 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

The 10-day event included five days of public service, a Protestant worship service, a UMC Communion Service, and information at the Faith and Beliefs exhibit area.

Approximately 30,000 Boy Scouts and 7,000 leaders participated in activities like coasting down 500 yard zip lines, rafting the New River Gorge, patch trading, and visiting the Faith and Beliefs exhibit area.

Faith and Beliefs

More than 20 volunteer UM leaders served in the 20-by-40-foot tent housing information about scouting ministry specialists, Stop Hunger Now, the 2014 UM Scouters workshop at Philmont, and the Strength for Service to God and Community book of daily devotions for first responders.

Twelve scouting ministry specialists provided information to Scout leaders, and visitors to the tent received 3,000 Stop Hunger Now patches.

Special thanks to Ken Todd and Keith Smith who served as vice chairmen of the exhibit, and to the Rev. Steve Hickle who led the Stop Hunger Now area and performed yeoman's service.

Protestant service

The Rev. Dr. Bruce Reed preached at the July 21 Protestant worship service. An elder in the West Virginia Conference, Reed retired from active duty as the state chaplain for the West Virginia National Guard and is currently the director of state family programs for the guard.  He encouraged more than 10,000 Scouts of all Protestant denominations to spread the gospel.

The service included a praise band from Morris Memorial UMC, Charleston, W.Va. The cross used in the 2010 UMC Jamboree service was used in both the Protestant and Roman Catholic services. The Rev. Greg Godwin coordinated the Protestant service.
The Rev. Jason Fry coordinated a UM Communion service at the Brownsea Island for 800 Scouts following the Protestant service. West Virginia Area Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball served as celebrant at that service.

Steady rain came down during both services, but it did not dampen the spirits of the Scouts and leaders.

More than 800 copies of the Scout edition of Strength for Service to God and Community were distributed at the UM service. The word spread and before long all 1,400 copies were given out to excited Scouts and leaders.

Five days of service

The largest service project in West Virginia included some 30,000 Scouts who spent five days in 350 sites to provide 300,000 volunteer service hours for local projects including Stop Hunger Now. Scouts packaged 16,000 meals for emergency situations in West Virginia and around the world.

Red Cross volunteers distributed more than 100,000 bottles of water to the Scouts serving in six southern West Virginia counties.

Two Venturing units and three Scout troops volunteered at the UM Burlington Family Services, Inc., Beckley Campus. Scouts and leaders provided valuable on-site work, and they had the chance to hear about the ministry at this residential treatment facility for troubled youth.

“The program director and facility director were amazed by what was accomplished,” said Phil Howard, coordinator of the work along with his brother Bill, The brothers are both Eagle Scouts. More than 1,000 volunteer hours were provided over two days. Popsicles were served to volunteers at the end of their workdays. Greg Godwin prepared a large banner for each Scout to sign along with their hand print as a testimony to their work.

Overall a big thank you goes out to the 11 UMC pastors who served as chaplains, including the Revs. Jason Fry and Alan Morrison, headquarter chaplains. Special thanks also go to 20 volunteers who manned the UMC Faith and Belief exhibit for more than 10 days.

First in West Virginia

Held every four years, jamborees are a Boy Scout tradition dating from 1937. Many Boy Scouts consider it one of the highlights of their scouting career.

This jamboree was the first at the 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Reserve, an old coal mine the BSA selected as its permanent home of national gatherings. The Summit replaces Fort A.P. Hill, Va., which played host to jamborees from 1981 to 2010.

Some called this the most physically demanding jamboree. Obese Scouts were not allowed to attend due to rigorous health standards.

For the first time, hundreds of girls who are members of Venturing crews also attended.
The Summit will host a high-adventure camp next year, and the Jamboree will return in 2017. The World Jamboree will be held there in 2019.

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