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Boy Scouts Throng to Centennial Jamboree

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Greetings from Fort A.P. Hill near Fredericksburg, Virginia, home for the next week to nearly 40,000 boys, some 20,000 volunteers and support staff, more tents than I can count, and the Centennial National Boy Scout Jamboree.


The event—a marathon campout with a multitude of youth activities—marks 100 years since the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910.

National Geographic Education has brought a team to this immense tent city to share mapping skills, conservation ideas, tips for taking better photos, and a message on the importance of understanding the world with scouts.

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We’re in good company: Nearby, NASA helps scouts build rockets…

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… while the LEGOs team has them constructing robots and competing in outsized games of chess.

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Meanwhile, scouts barter regional patches, the Jamboree’s unofficial currency.

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The site spans miles of woods, lakes, fields, and streams. The uncanny calm of sailboats …

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… and canoes in waiting …

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… and a pristine new BMX track …

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… just a few days ago belied the tsunami of scouts from across the U.S. that rolled in and set more than 20 large camps on Monday morning.

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When British veteran Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell—Lord Baden-Powell for short—penned a training manual on military stealth and wilderness survival titled Aids to Scouting more than a century ago, he likely never envisioned the endurance of the movement he was unleashing on the world. The volume became a bestseller among teachers and youth groups. He followed it up with Scouting for Boys in 1908, and thus the Boy Scouts were born.

The movement quickly caught on and spread to countries around the globe, as did scouting programs for girls.

Last night, the Geographic previewed its new theatrical-release film on George Leigh Malory’s attempts to summit Mt. Everest—The Wildest Dream—for scouts, the final scheduled event before the bugle call Taps signaled bedtime and lights out.

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Now the sun’s up, wake-up call Reveille’s sounded, and scouts are on the march. I’ll be back throughout the week with more updates from the Jamboree.

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Photos by Ford Cochran