Final Leg

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.

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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.

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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!

Camp Tuckahoe & Gettysburg

The troop has pretty much been a nomadic group the last couple of weeks as we have traveled from Tulsa to Chattanooga to Jamboree and DC. Last night, after visiting Arlington National Cemetery and the Naval Academy, we made our way to Camp Tuckahoe in PA. Camp Tuckahoe is a BSA camp and is about 30 minutes from Gettysburg. They were very gracious to allow us to stay in two of their 45 man cabins. We rolled in very late and worked quickly to get unloaded and settled for the night. This morning we were up early to get breakfast in the mess hall and to depart early for Gettysburg.

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At Gettysburg, we had great tour guides who took us around the battlefield and brought the battle to life for us. We then watched a short movie about the 3 days of battle, narrated by Morgan Freeman (the boys love Morgan). Following the movie, we went to view the largest painting I have ever seen. A full 360 degree panoramic painting of the battle of Gettysburg. The cyclorama painting is 356 feet long and 27 feet tall. Simply amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the painting. We also visited the Gettysburg Museum and spent some time in the gift shop.

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Laying of the Wreath

I am sitting in the quiet peaceful cemetery having just experienced a very moving and inspirational ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is hard to imagine or appreciate the level of dedication offered by the soldiers who guard the tomb. These men guard the tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with such precision and honor that it must inspire all who get a chance to witness it.

Following the 10:00AM ceremonial changing of the guards, the soldiers, with a delegation from Troop 26, replaced the wreath with the Troop 26 wreath. Throughout the ceremony I felt the honor and respect that our scouts gave to our country’s deceased heroes. I am proud of our boys. They showed all due respect.

This visit to Arlington has been special and sobering at the same time. What an honor it is to live in this great country where so many people are dedicated to the cause of freedom. Our generations, and those that follow, need places like Arlington to remind us of the great sacrifices that are required for liberty.

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