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Military Supports Scout Jamboree

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

FORT A.P. HILL, Va., July 27, 2001 – The mission: Work with a nongovernmental organization, feed, shelter, transport and care for 40,000 people.

Sound like another refugee crisis in the Balkans? Around 2,000 service members are training for this type of humanitarian work -- by supporting the quadrennial Boy Scout Jamboree here.

"The only differences between this and our deployment to Bosnia are we don't have to worry about land mines and the 'refugees' are a lot more friendly," said Army Spc. John Meier, a military policeman from Maryland. Meier, working with an adult Scout leader at a traffic control point, was swamped by Boy Scouts.

"This is a normal training mission for us," said Army Lt. Col. Robert Saxon, the Task Force Jamboree public affairs officer. "We would perform these duties in the Balkans or in hurricane relief. Our (service members) are performing their military skills in this operation."

Working with the Boy Scouts national organization, service members provide water, medical care, traffic control, public affairs support and some transportation. Military dog teams, bands, drill teams, parachute demonstration teams, radio vans, photo crews and choruses also support the effort.

Hundreds of individual service members have taken time off to participate. Many work in the Jamboree's Merit Badge Midway teaching such skills as aviation, citizenship and atomic energy. Others work directly with Scouts as adult troop leaders. Still others work in the support side of the Jamboree.

The Jamboree runs through Aug. 1, and for the 10 days Fort A.P. Hill plays host, it is the seventh largest city in Virginia. Congress passed a law in 1972 mandating military support to the Scouts. The fort has been the home of the Jamboree since 1981.

For more on the Jamboree, point your browser to www.scouting.org/jamboree.

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