Jeff Peterson of Tucson acted as Scoutmaster for a group of 36 boys from throughout the Catalina Council who went on the excursion. Three other adults served as assistant scoutmasters.
Preparations for the trip began almost two years before the actual Jamboree. Meetings one year out served to help all the participants begin to get acquainted, as the Catalina Council encompasses all of Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, Sierra Vista and beyond. Twenty-one troops were represented on this trip. Activities such as a visit to Colossal Cave and a swimming party accompanied the planning. Everyone had some major fundraising to do, since each boy and leader was required to pay for his portion of the trip.
Before they hit the first-ever Jamboree at the new Bechtel Summit Scout Preserve in West Virginia, the group did some important sightseeing. They visited Philadelphia (where they also took in a ballgame), Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Fort McHenry and Washington, D.C.
The entire group attended a Catholic mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in northern D.C., then trooped over to the stately temple owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There they hoped to tour the visitor’s center. They were directed to talk to one of the missionaries there, who turned out to be the brother of a prominent Church leader. He provided interesting information and a video presentation. The boys truly enjoyed that day.
Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presided at the Sunday worship service for about 3,200 Latter-day Saint scouts, leaders and other volunteers, stating that it was “the largest sacrament meeting I have ever attended.” To do our best… “we must first be our best… To be our best we must recognize that there is good and evil. At the head of all that is good is Jesus Christ.” He explained to the gathering that to do our best, as the scout motto says, “we must first be our best…. To be our best we must recognize that there is good and there is evil. At the head of all that is good is Jesus Christ. He is the Only Begotten of the Father and created our world. He is a resurrected and perfect being. I know that He lives.” (source).
The trip was quite memorable already, but then came the actual Jamboree. The pristine, new campsite featured “world-class everything,” according to Scoutmaster Peterson. Zip lines, canopy/rope challenge courses, mountain biking, BMX biking, skateboarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, shooting ranges, archery, sail boating, scuba diving, whitewater rafting and rappelling topped the list of available activities. Also included were the shows and exhibits that filled the camp. Heavy rain and high humidity did not seem to dampen spirits much—there were far too many interesting things to do to be bogged down by weather.
Scoutmaster Peterson still remembers when he went to the Jamboree as a 14-year-old, and his trip with his two oldest sons three years ago. This time he traveled with his third son. Asked if he thought this trip would enrich the lives of those who attended, Peterson noted that this was “one of those adventures that [they] will never forget.”