For the 34,000 Scouts attending the National Jamboree at Farragut State Park, Sunday, July 20, 1969, dawned sunny and warm. Religious services that morning reminded the Scouts of the 12th part of the Scout Law, “A Scout is Reverent.” I attended the Protestant service along with an estimated 10,000 Scouts, leaders and one very special guest. Moments before beginning, several Mercury sedans arrived while adult Scouters assisted an elderly woman wearing a blue khaki dress. Without any instructions ahead of time, without a single word being said, 10,000 of us immediately stood at attention until Lady Baden-Powell took her front row seat. I remember little else except that I attended “church” with the widow of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the English war hero who founded the Scouting movement in England.
That Sunday only became more memorable. In the afternoon as I worked at my volunteer staff position in Trading Post B, Lady Baden-Powell walked right past me as she toured the Jamboree. Too awe struck to say anything, I quietly acknowledged her presence.
William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt, author of several Boy Scout manuals and columnist for Boys Life magazine, also made an appearance and autographed my Jamboree neckerchief with his distinctive signature.
Wow! What else could happen on this supposedly quiet, restful day at the Jamboree? That’s when a large console TV arrived within a few feet of my work station in the camping gear, uniforms and souvenir section of the trading post.
Like all Americans, we anxiously followed the journey of Apollo 11 by listening to crackly transistor radios and reading daily updates in The Jamboree Journal. We even felt a special bond with Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong as we exchanged good-will wishes through a ham radio link as the spaceship left the Earth’s orbit toward its destination at Tranquility Base on the Moon.
As television coverage of the lunar landing and moon walk began, the large circus tent filled with several hundred Scouts to witness the historic event. With only a handful of TVs in all of Farragut State Park, I was lucky enough to watch and listen as Neil Armstrong broadcast the forever famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Later I walked to the nearby staff campsite. No one seemed to know how they got there, but each tent had a small US flag attached to its ridgepole. Come to find out later, every tent at the entire Jamboree had a similar flag. I gave our flag to my tent mate from Minnesota. He has the flag and I have the memories of a day I will never forget.
Eagle Scout Trading Post B Staff – 1969 National Jamboree
Farragut State Park, Idaho