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:


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!

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.




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.







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.


Washington DC

It was a very early morning for the troop. We were up at 5:45AM so that we could shower, eat breakfast and head over to the capital building to meet with Senator Inholf and Representative Bridenstine. Both Congressman were very gracious and spent quality time with the troop taking pictures, talking about their congressional effort, and taking questions.



After spending time with the congressional delegation, we toured the Capital Building and the Library of Congress. Both were awesome buildings and we got to see some great treasures. Some pics are below.





From here, we met up with a per-arranged Chick-fil-A truck, had lunch and then began a whirlwind of touring DC. We went to the Smithsonian Museum and gave everyone the option of touring the Museum of Natural History or the Museum of American History (or both).

We then went to Ford’s Theatre and the Peterson House, had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and took a tour of the mall and several Memorials. Included in the tour of the memorials was WWII, Vietnam, Lincoln, Korean War, and Jefferson. In all, we spent about 19 hours touring. When I asked what they thought, one of the boys told me that the experience was life changing. These kids are great.












Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

We toured the Smithsonian Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport on Wednesday on our way in to DC.


SR 71 Blackbird

The museum is home to an SR 71 Blackbird, the Space Shuttle Discovery, and hundreds of planes and helicopters from various eras.


Caleb and Samuel Smith surprised their brother Eli by joining us at the museum. Doug Fournet and Larry Thompson also joined us at Dulles.



Goodbye Summit!

We had an early wakeup at 2am Wednesday while the rest of the Summit was still sleeping. We had to take down the tents and dining flys and haul our gear to the pickup point at our subcamp headquarters.

We checked the radar when we awoke (something we have gotten very familiar with) and noticed a large thunderstorm bearing down on us. The boys kicked it into high gear and we “borrowed” a large staff tent near our pickup location to stage our gear. The last of the gear and boys made it to the tent just as the storm hit the camp at 3.45am.

Thanks to our teamwork the boys and our gear were able to stay dry through the storm. Our bus arrived at 5.30 and we quickly loaded up and were gone by 5.40.

Goodbye Summit!

Patch trading

This is my first Jamboree and I am learning a lot and having a great time. One of the things I heard a lot about before coming to Jamboree is the patch trading. I’ve been to many scouting events and have never witnessed this fine art. It obviously consumes a significant amount of time for many scouts here.

After a couple of days of observation, I have a better understanding of what the boys are most excited about. Our council patches seem to be a good set, as are the council OA pocket patches (many scouts have stopped by looking for our patches).

Below is a pics of scouts trading as well as one of the sets that a C117 scout collected.



Day of Service

Yesterday, C117 participated in the Messengers of Peace Day of Service. The troop had to rise at 5:00AM, cook breakfast, and hike to the loading point. We hopped a bus and drove 2++ hours to Welch, WV. We met the mayor of Welch before we moved over to their site.

Our service project was to clean up a family cemetery and sand and paint all of the ironwork. We ended up being about an hour late due to an more scenic route than originally anticipated so we had a lot less time than originally scheduled.

Despite the shortened work period, a large quantity of poison ivy, and a physically demanding project, we managed to complete the task with time to spare. NOTE: we took special precautions to avoid the poison ivy and Mr.Warriner has set up a special clothes washing station to make sure exposure is minimized.




Day of Service

Wednesday we had an early 5am wakeup and a 7am pickup to head out for our day of service. We traveled 90 minutes to Welch, WV to a cemetery to perform some landscaping and painting.


Each Troop at The Jamboree will do a day of service during their stay. That’s over 35,000 scouts heading out to do helpful projects around West Virginia.

The 9 Counties surrounding The Summit have been preparing for the past three years for these service projects to help in much needed areas. It’s a great way for the boys to give back to the community that helped build The Summit for them.


At our project we painted several railings and cleared brush from the grounds of the cemetery. The cemetery had gravesites dating back to the mid-1800s and held the grave of the first pilot shot down in WWI.



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Opening Ceremony

Tuesday morning we attended the opening ceremony in the Summit Stadium. They introduced the Bechtel family who donated the land and much of the funding for the Summit.

Afterwards, the boys spread out across The Summit to take in the activities and sites.

The facilities here are first class. One of our Assistant Scoutmasters, Joel Stinnett, is working the rock climbing area and said they are using specially designed equipment that is better and safer than any he has seen before.




Summit Scenery

The Summit is a beautiful place and the grounds are amazing. Here are some shots from an evening walk around the lake.

The weather today was much hotter than expected – highs in the low nineties with no breeze and lots of humidity. While there are lots of trees, most of the camping areas are wide open fields with little shade.

Our camp site is about 20 minutes from the lake activities and rock climbing, but further from other areas of camp. Overall, we are in a fairly central location.

The boys had a busy day setting up camp and getting unpacked. We had to figure out how to pickup and prepare food, cleanup, shower, and trade patches. They did a fantastic job pulling together and taking care of everything.

Tomorrow morning we have the opening of ceremonies at The Summit Stadium.


Chickamauga National Military Park

We all study the Civil War in school. However, nothing makes it more real than visiting a battlefield. At Chickamauga, we watched a brief documentary about the battles for Chattanooga, with Chickamauga being the deadliest (and the second most deadly of the war).

After the documentary, we went out back and was met by park ranger Chris, who was dressed as a confederate soldier. He gave a fantastic history lesson.


I was both moved and impressed by the sincere reverence and respect displayed by our entire troop. Everyone listened intently and asked great questions. It was a very sobering experience.


Below is a picture of some of the artillery on display as well as the view of part of the battlefield.


Tennessee Aquarium

It’s hard to believe that we had so many activities packed into a single day. The Tennessee Aquarium made the day that much better. We were greeted by Loribeth and her crew who treated us to an informative behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium. In the picture below, one group gets a top view of the largest salt water tank, with over 600,000 gallons of salt water.


There, of course were lots of fish and other aquatic life. We also got to play with the butterflies.


One of the groups also managed to squeeze all 21 members into a shark cage. They would have made quite a feast for some shark.


We stayed overnight at the aquarium and got a chance to catch up on some sleep. In the morning, we played with the otters before we headed out.


Before we left in the morning, we got some pictures in front of the aquarium with our hospitable hosts. Thanks Tennessee Aquarium!


Incline Railroad

Ruby Falls was a pretty awesome visit. The next stop was the Incline Railway. We went from being 1100 feet under the mountain to being on top of the mountain. The ride is a mile, most of which is at a very steep incline. The view was great and the ride was relaxing.


The picture below shows the train path up the mountainside.


Fletcher and Caleb use the view as an opportunity to make a video. Wonder what they are up to?


Ruby Falls

The next stop for the day was Ruby Falls at Lookout Mountain. This was a cave tour that culminated in an amazing waterfall at the end if the tour (really the half way point). The water fall is 145 ft water fall located over 1100 feet below the surface of the mountain. You can learn more about it by visiting

It is difficult to get good pictures in the dark caverns, but a couple of decent pics are available.




Rock City

After visiting the RR museum, we headed over to Rock City where we started our visit with lunch at the pavilion. After lunch, Rock City was open for exploration.

I apparently have been living in a cave because I’ve never heard of Rock City, but I must say it is quite a gem! There’s a great 7 state horizon view, a magnificent waterfall, suspension bridges, caves (including the fat man’s squeeze), wildlife, artwork and more. I captured a few photos but unfortunately the pictures don’t capture the experience well at all.



Tennessee Valley RR Museum

After traveling all night and sleeping on the bus, the crew arrived at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum around 8:30am eastern time. We set up shop and ate breakfast in the parking lot.



After breakfast, the boys were able to hang around the living museum and hop on some of the cars. Below are some pics of the boys milling about the RR cars.




Jamboree Departure

We had an awesome turnout of friends and family to see our Jamboree contingent off on our adventure. As is customary, we took the time to take group pictures before disembarking. Check this awesome group out!


I don’t believe it’s a tradition to get pics of the “photographers”, but it really should be. These friends and family members have been behind the scenes encouraging and helping these boys prepare for this adventure.

This jamboree will be different than the last seven or eight because it’s the first one that will be without Bill. We will be traveling with his wisdom and leadership as our badge. Bill sent us off with three rules. Check the video below.


Troop 26 Jamboree Shakedown

Troop 26 gathered on Sunday, June 30th for the Jamboree Shakedown. This was our opportunity to divide into our troops (A229 and C117) under the direction of out SPLs. Each of the patrols came up with their patrol names and got an opportunity to work together for a while in preparation for the big adventure.

No Troop 26 trip would be complete without the wisdom and leadership of our formidable scoutmaster. Bill is seen in the picture speaking to the participants about making the most out of this huge opportunity in front of them.