I had the great privilege of accompanying our Mountaineer contingent of leaders to the Boy Scout National Jamboree, held in West Virginia at the James C. Justice National Boy Scout Camp. This site was constructed on a reclaimed strip mine site.
It was amazing and inspiring.
In our party are two distinguished eagle scouts – WVU President E. Gordon Gee and former President David C. Hardesty. Both of them are still deeply connected to their scouting past. Gordon is on the national board of the Boy Scouts of America and David is also both involved and committed to the purpose.
Also in our group was our provost, Joyce McConnell; our vice president for communications Sharon Martin; Judie Charlton, chief medical officer of WVU Medicine; our vice-provost John Campbell; former provost and overseer of our best-in-class forensics program, Jerry Lang; and leader of Adventure West Virginia, Greg Corio.
An amazing group of people for an amazing experience.
We shared the day with 40,000 campers, staff, volunteers and visitors from around the country, and the beauty that only WV can provide in its rolling mountains, stunning vistas and lush green.
We started in the Perry family overlook that gave us a clear view of the well-organized camp sites used by the Scouts.
A highlight of the day was the inspiring ceremony that the Scouts held to name the sprawling scout camp. The James C. Justice National Boy Scout Camp is named for a West Virginian, the father of our current Governor, James C. Justice, Jr.
National Scout leaders unveiled a large bronze statue of Mr. Justice, standing with the future Governor at his knee and petting their hunting dog, Lady, after grouse hunting. The Governor spoke movingly of the critical role of scouting in firming the core of our youth, its important role in our state, and his connection and love for his father.
After this great event, we retreated to the medical area and met with four of our great nursing students, Rachel Brown, Tia Querrey, Zachary Tilley and Raven Kennedy, and their preceptor, Wendy Laberge. They triaged a number of campers who had problems from stomach aches, shoe issues, dehydration (it has been hot) and a few orthopedic issues. They were beaming with pride on the great work they are doing and have been great ambassadors for us.
Everyone I turned to praised them and I am very proud of them and the way they represent our university. They referred to their “PA” program - not physician’s assistants, but Powerade and reAssurance, that had healing powers for many thirsty, hot, tired, young campers.
Our students were professional, personable and enthusiastic.
We also got to meet the medical personnel, including Carl Werntz and Lee Pyles, two physicians and Boy Scouts from WVU Medicine who really embrace the principles of the Boy Scouts – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, and reverent. They were joined by many talented and committed physicians, nurses, administrators who set up the mobile medical center for dealing with more substantial medical illness, trauma and acute care.
We then retreated to dinner where Doris Kearns Goodwin gave the keynote. She was spectacular. She discussed shared leadership lessons from FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. It was one of the best talks I have ever attended.
Prior to her talk, many dignitaries were recognized, including Sen Joe Manchin, who played a critical role in bringing the National Boy Scout camp to West Virginia. In his final pitch to the executive committee of the scouts in Dallas, he drew from the movie Forrest Gump and presented the concept that West Virginia and the Boy Scouts shared core values and went together like “peas and carrots”. It worked and the rest is history.
We finished up the day with the sun starting to set, looking down at almost 30,000 Boy Scouts in front of the stage in the valley. Different flags, colors and lots of excited campers.
Nestled in green mountains, with the blue sky above giving way to the colors of sunset. A stunning example of vision meeting execution.
This is the West Virginia that we see in the brightness of a new day.
An epicenter that promotes core values and brings natural healing beauty to our country and world.