Safety chief joins Joint Task Force at National Boy Scout Jamboree

  • Published
  • By Samuel Spooner
  • 17th Training Wing Safety Chief
I recently returned from the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., July 26-Aug. 4, honoring the 100th Anniversary of Scouting where I was a member of a Joint Task Force team responsible for maintaining a safe and secure environment for more than 45,000 participants.

The team consisted of eight servicemembers and three Department of Defense civilians. We partnered with 75-Boy Scout volunteers to ensure safety of four camp regions, activity centers and the merit badge midway. We also oversaw the safety of all major events including the scouts arrival, opening and arena show, 5K run, religious services and the CPR/automatic external defibrillator record setting training.

With Virginia's extreme temperatures in late July and early August, our team's main focus was preventing heat stress illness throughout the event, but we also provided oversight of construction activities, campsite setup, pedestrian and vehicle safety, severe weather response and electrical safety.

Our team's interaction with the scouts and their leadership throughout the event promoted safety and safe operations. One of the tools used to emphasize safety was a 10-item checklist printed on a plastic card. The checklist emphasized items they needed at all times and included a water bottle, sunscreen, hat, hand sanitizer, lip balm with sunscreen, rain gear or poncho, personal first-aid kit, flashlight, Jamboree site map and identification. On the back of the card was an acrostic for SAFETY: S=stay safe, A=always have a buddy, F=follow the rules, E=everyone works together, T=tank up (drink plenty of water), Y=you make the difference. While scouts waited for their next activity, we checked to see if they had all the items on their checklist. Those that did received a collapsible safety frisbee.

The coordination between the Boy Scouts and the military was superb. We were able to resolve a myriad of safety issues working with our Boy Scout partners and camp leaders. Maintenance and contractor-related issues were sent to the Joint Military Operations Army Control Center, a team of servicemembers from all military branches and leaders from the Boy Scouts of America, for resolution. The Boy Scout safety service chairman said the event was "the best, most exciting, fun-filled, safest Jamboree ever."

The Jamboree offered more than 120-different merit badges, numerous exhibits and hands-on activities. My son, 14, attended the Jamboree and had a great time participating in activities such as BMX racing, shotgun shooting, mountain boarding, archery and climbing.

I will always cherish the memories I shared with my son and am truly grateful and proud to have had the opportunity to have a role in such a significant national event. The next Jamboree is scheduled for summer of 2013 in West Virginia.