Scouts venture across nation

From left to right in blue shirts, area Boy Scouts Nick Rathman, Thomas Klanderud and Alex Warranka await the start of their next race at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.

With school starting back up, it’s normal for kids to reminisce on their summer activities.

From lazy days at home, to the fun-filled excitement of hanging out with friends, to getting that first summer job, the experiences seem almost countless.

One lucky group of boys will have especially memorable moments to think about, as they were able to tour the country in a way many people don’t get to experience.

Area Boy Scouts, along with local leaders Corey Klanderud and Jay Striemer, attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. Klanderud was available to share some insight about what the boys were able to take away from the trip, which occurred at the end of July.

“I’ve been involved with Scouting in general for about 11 years,” he said. “In 2013, I went with the National Jamboree trip as well, and we took 36 boys and four adults, and this year we had 54 boys and six adults. The National Jamboree Trip occurs every four years and it’s just one of the high-adventure trips that we take.

“We go as a contingent in Southern Minnesota from the Twin Valley Council; we have boys from four different counties that combine to go on this trip together. This trip was 20 days long; we toured on the way out and then we went to the National Jamboree site in West Virginia and we stayed there for nine days, then we had a few days of touring on the way home. We make a loop around the U.S., we go out through Ohio and Pennsylvania, and then we stay in Washington, D.C., for a while, then we go to West Virginia and drop down through Kentucky and we stay in St. Louis for the last night and see the arch before we drive home from there.

“It’s a really fun experience for the youth,” he said.

The age range for the boys is 12 to 17, and for some of them it is their first time being away from home for an extended period of time.

“They’re also exposed to a ton of new things, new sights and we try to hit some of the highlights,” Klanderud said. “We tour the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, and that’s very popular with the boys. We also go to the Flight 93 Memorial, and from there we travel to Gettysburg and we have a guided tour there learning about the history of the Civil War.”

They then take the boys to Washington, D.C., for a tour of the monuments, before heading to Delaware for a dip in the ocean.

“For a lot of them, it’s their first time getting a chance to swim in the ocean,” he said. “Then we travel to the Jamboree site in West Virginia at the summit. There, they work together in patrols and they have their own cooking and cleaning responsibilities and get to experience different activities at the site.

“They go out in small groups and a lot of them are able to develop friendships with kids that are from different parts of southern Minnesota, and experience all the Jamboree has to offer. By the time we’re done there, people are getting tired so we take a couple of days on the way home to rest and catch up. In St. Louis, we go to a water park, which is fun for the boys and is a chance for them to just be kids and relax before we tour the arch and go home.”

The boys also got to hear President Trump speak at the Jamboree, which Klanderud describes as a neat event for them to see.

“A big part of Scouting is developing citizenship in boys and responsibility, so having the President come and tell them what a good thing it was to be involved in Scouting was really cool for them, especially since for the last two Jamborees the [previous] President hadn’t shown up,” he said.

Klanderud also shared that getting into the stadium took a lot of time, which he described as only natural, considering there were more than 30,000 young people at the event.

“It was a long day, but it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I think it’s just a neat experience and it gives the boys a chance to be responsible and do things on their own,” he said. “We hold them to high expectations and they always meet it, so it’s fun to give them that opportunity to go experience new things and do that kind of stuff.

“If I had to compare it to four years ago when I went, I think the addition of the President coming to talk was a neat event. There are so many parts of the trip, from touring and learning about the history of the U.S. is neat on its own. Then going to the Jamboree site and living in a tent for 10 days and going out and doing all the high-adventure things from BMX to zip-lines to scuba diving and white water rafting, it’s tremendous what the kids get a chance to do.”

Klanderud said the cost of the trip this year was $2,500, up from $2,000. He says it is a challenge to put everything together, but worth it because the boys have such a good time.

“It’s the outings that make Scouting fun and this is an expensive trip, but it’s one of the most fulfilling because it’s action packed,” he said. “There’s not only learning but there’s activities and experiences of a life time that a lot of kids from southern Minnesota might not get to do outside of Scouting.”