PRINCETON — The last two weeks of July saw the Bechtel Scouting Reserve Complex near Mt. Hope host an approximate 40,000 to 55,000 Boy Scouts and support personnel for the quadrennial World Scouting Jamboree.
Among the thousands there were two members of Boy Scout Troop #1 based out of Princeton, Bradford Hurt, son of J.B and Dana Hurt of Princeton and Jackson Ball, son of Phillip and Kathy Ball of Athens, who were the Mercer County delegation at the Jamboree
Hurt, 14, a two-year veteran of Scouting with the rank of Life Scout, said Tuesday, “It was an interesting experience and pretty fun. I’d been to the Reserve one other time (a day visit in 2013).”
His first impression, he said, was that he was going to meet a lot of people from around the world.
“And I met a lot of people from around the world,” he added.
Asked his favorite experience, he replied, “Definitely Cultural Day, where we went out and met different people and experienced a part of their culture, whether it be .food, games or so forth.”
The Scouts present, he said, had a variety of activities, including the BMX skateboarding Park, canopy tours, zip lines, water obstacle courses, a Spartan race, rock-climbing wall. scuba and shooting facilities for bow and gun.
“We had food houses, where people from each culture would prepare food from their own country and sell it,” he said.
`As for camping itself, he said, “it was pretty memorable. We had food tents in each camp where you got food and cooked it on your own campfire.”
Asked if he’d recommend the experience, Hurt said that he would
“The jamboree probably won’t be at the Summit for a long time to come. The next World Jamboree will be in South Korea in 2023 and the recent Jamboree was the first one in the United States since 1967 when it was in Idaho,” he said.
He added, “It was a lifetime experience that not enough people got to experience. Outside of the Scouts, not too many people knew about it.”
Asked about his recent experience as a member of the BSA Troop #1 group who attended the last Princeton City Council meeting, he replied, “It was interesting to learn about local events that you wouldn’t otherwise and to learn how meetings are run.”
Ball, 17, an Eagle Scout wit five to six years experience, plus an earlier service in the Cub Scouts, said, “It was different from the previous times (I’d been to the complex). The other times, we knew where we were going to be and this time, they had a schedule of activities for us.”
The largest previous gathering of Scouts he had been to was approximately 100 people present. he said.
“(The biggest difference was that, unlike the National Jamboree, was the variety of people we encountered. Our camp was next to the Italian camp, plus there were groups from so many other nations,” he said.
The most notable activity, Ball added, were the canopy tours which included an exhibit from WVU.
“That set the pace for the rest of the week,” he said.
Also memorable, he said, was the first dinner there where the American and Italian contingents exchanged food items.
“Going into this, I expected people to be more tense, more secluded for being in such a large facility with such a number of people. Instead, everybody enjoyed the experience,” he commented.
Asked if he would recommend the Jamboree for other people, he responded, “Yes, I would. Hands down, it was the one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in Scouting, a once in a lifetime event and my first Jamboree. I made countless friends and countless memories.”
The Jamboree, he added, both gave state residents the opportunity to know of the Bechtel Reserve and expanded the visitors knowledge of the state.
“Now that we opened up (the reserve) to expose it to state residents and our visitors realize that, contrary to any previous stereotypical interviews, we have this state-of-the-art facility and their perceptions have changed,” he said.
Contact Jeff Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org