2017 Boy Scout Jamboree

This letter arrived in my dreams last night . . .

Dear Joan,

The 2017 National Scout Jamboree is planned for July 19th through the 28th and we would like to offer you the opportunity to speak to the 40,000 Scouts, Venturers, Explorers and Unit Leaders. Please submit a draft of your speech for our review.


National Scout Jamboree Board, Boy Scouts of America

My response, which also arrived in a dream last night . . .

Dear National Scout Jamboree Board,

What an honor it is to be considered as a possible speaker at the 2017 Jamboree. Per your request, here is draft of my speech.

To all of you in attendance – Boy Scouts, Venturers, Exlporers, Unit Leaders, Jamboree Board Members – I thank you for this incredible opportunity to speak to you today. I admit, it is a bit overwhelming to look out and see 40,000 faces staring at me right now! As you can see, I am not a boy, or a man – but I am a former Boy Scout volunteer, and my husband and I are the proud parents of two young men who were in the program when they were young.

When I look out over all of you, I am humbled to see a group of young people that represents every corner of our country. You may be from one of the smallest town in the United States – Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for example. Or you may be from a large metropolitan city such as Los Angeles, California. But here you all are – reveling in the beauty of West Virginia – from the New River Gorge to the rolling green hills, to the majestic mountains – and exploring like you never have before, just what it means to be a Boy Scout.

As a former volunteer in the Boy Scouts, I have personally witnessed the Scout Law in action. People who are not scouts, or who have not been exposed to scouting, may not understand the discipline it takes to strive to remain trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. But, I do, and I applaud all of your efforts to not only embed these qualities into your daily lives, but to role model them for others. I am constantly amazed and humbled by what the Boy Scouts do for their communities and beyond. A group of Scouts that plants a tree or calls Bingo at a nursing home, an Eagle Scout project that involves painting fun colors on the walls of a Children’s hospital – and everything in between – all embody the Scout Law.

Boys, this opportunity is like no other. To be here, in this beauty, enjoying everything from cookouts to zip-lining, you’re experiencing some of the best days in your young lives. When the Jamboree comes to a close, you will return home a different person – stronger physically, more aware of the world that surrounds you. I challenge you to bring the things you’ve learned during your time here – back to your homes in Minneapolis, Minnesota or Lincoln, Nebraska – and share them. Perhaps you experienced a Catholic Mass or Jewish Prayer service for the first time. Perhaps you enjoyed white-water rafting, felt the thrill of extreme biking, launched a weather balloon, or sparked your imagination during hands-on robotics training. Whatever it was, I challenge you to find a way to share it with someone who has never had such an experience. Tell them how grateful you are to have had this opportunity, show them your photos and let them feel as though they were right here with you. By sharing your experience, you will instill hope that one day, they, too, could have such an opportunity.

And, then, as you settle back into your life, I want you to think about what’s next for you. How did this experience change you? What is it that you will do to keep learning? How will you seek out new adventures? How will you continue to meet new people from other parts of the country?  Because, that’s what experiences like these are about – taking what you’ve learned to create a momentum for yourself and everyone around you. A momentum as forceful as the New River Gorge, as solid as these sandstone cliffs, as expansive as the bridge spanning the Long Point Trail, as majestic as water falling over a rocky river ledge, as peaceful as watching the sun set over The Endless Wall Trail. I am confident that you will do your best to infuse your new momentum with the values of honor, dignity and respect that you have come to know by being a member of the Boy Scouts of America. Boys, the one thing that is truly ahead of you is your future and I, along with every other citizen of our country, support you as you embrace it. 

I would love your feedback about my "proposed speech" . . . but would also love to hear what YOU would say to the Boy Scouts if you had the opportunity! Please comment below, or send me an email at jboone1408@comcast.net