After departing from the Gettysburg National Cemetery, the crew began the long trip home. We stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel. This was a refreshing stop. Not only was the sit-down dinner with great company nice, but the many compliments that we received from other restaurant guests about how polite and well-behaved our boys were much appreciated. The other guests really enjoyed visiting with our scouts.
We have been traveling on the bus for many hours. In fact, we slept on the bus overnight. We’ve made a couple of stops to fill up, use the restrooms, and swap drivers. For breakfast, we stopped at McDonald’s in St. Louis. Following breakfast, we convened for a chapel service in the field next to the McDonald’s. Parker Plank led the chapel service. His message this morning was about perseverance. He mentioned Helen Keller and spoke specifically about Nick Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker with no arms or legs. Learn more about Nick here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbX6mDnMwM&noredirect=1.
We also took time after chapel service to share Roses and Buds (ask your kiddos about this). It’s great to hear the boys share their positive thoughts about this trip and the things they are looking forward to. For me, my “rose” was hearing all the very positive comments from strangers about these boys and this troop. I know, as well as the rest of the men, that these boys have tremendous potential and have the opportunity for a great future. My “bud” is the Eagle Pledge Ceremony and having the opportunity to help each of these boys earn their Eagle Award.
Our last stop was a truck stop in Springfield that had a Subway and Taco Bell. The boys were able to get lunch wherever they preferred. We are now back on the bus. The Austin is once again leading the way while I am back on the Baumgartner, where the boys are watching The Goonies! In about three hours, we’ll be pulling into the parking lot of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and the 2013 Jamboree will be in the history books.
I have spent the last couple of hours reflecting on this Jamboree. I was one of the lucky few that was able to be a leader with this awesome group of boys. The planning for this event started about two years ago and there has been a dedicated group of men that have met regularly to insure that the boys who participated in this event were able to get the most out of it and that everything went as smoothly as possible. I have to commend the team on their fantastic work. I was a bit skeptical that we would be able to keep to our schedule and actually be able to visit as many sites as we did. I commend Charlie Calhoun and Tom Steele on their work on the touring plan. I think it went as well as it possibly could and the boys seemed to appreciate all the activities.
While I am glad to be getting home, I am sorry that this trip is going to be over. It has been a wonderful experience for me on many levels. I have had the opportunity to get to know many of these boys so much better than before. It has been such an honor to be able to help lead and guide them, encourage them, teach them, and comfort them. They are a great group, both individually and as a whole. I am very fortunate to be a part of Troop 26 and I look forward to the future, which will include regular meetings, campouts, and events as well as big trips. There is so much to look forward to for all of us!