Naval Support Activity Washington (NSAW) and elements of the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy Leadership Training Site Washington and the future Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling,recently supported Boy Scouts from across the country, converging on the nation’s capital to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
Nearly 800 scouts and adult leaders from 16 states, came to NSAW’s Naval Support Facility Anacostia from July 22 to Aug. 6, to visit the scout exhibit in the shadow of the Washington Monument and to watch or participate in the Centennial parade in Washington and attend the 2010 Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.
Each evening, an average of 131 scouts, stayed at the NSF. Nearly 400 were housed the nights before and after the anniversary parade, held on July 25, according to an official report. “We had many more requests than we could safely accommodate,” an NSAW community relations official stated.
During the day, scouts toured the DC area, Navy Museum and Display Ship USS Barry at NSAW’s Washington Navy Yard and visited Fort A.P. Hill.
Area newspapers, websites and television news reports included images of scouts visiting Congressional representatives, touring the Navy Yard, Capitol Hill, Union Station, the monuments in Washington, Arlington National Cemetery and other sites. “They were everywhere,” NSAW Executive Officer Cmdr. Phillip Raimondo proudly observed.
Military installations, including the NSF, have a long history of providing support for scouts during their National Jamboree, held every five years. This time, the number of military installations with available berthing space, showers and mess facilities has since declined, as many military personnel have shifted to off-base housing and installations adopted leaner budgets.
Making a memorable experience
“When it became clear that none of the other area military installations were able to host the scouts, we redoubled our efforts to overcome the many challenges posed. We wanted to assist as many scouts as possible and help make their Centennial a memorable one,” Raimondo said.
The planning, cooperation between various offices in NSAW, JBAB, the Judge Advocate General’s office, Navy, Marines, DOD, local and national Boy Scout offices and the resulting implementation efforts, resulted in a record number of scouts from as far away as California and including a group who bicycled some 2,000 miles, over a period of weeks, being able to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime event.
Jerry Judd, a scout leader in Goldsboro, N.C., commented, “Thank you for [helping] make the Centennial Jamboree a success.”
Bruce M. White, the mentor of the 2000-mile Cycling the Loop Adventure, said, “Our cycling event was a huge success. We certainly appreciated the hospitality. It was great to spend the morning biking to DC from Annapolis; the afternoon hiking in the parade and knowing we had a place to stay when the day was done.”
In spite of a record breaking heat wave, reaching 105-degrees, coinciding with the parade, there were no injuries, illnesses or other emergencies reported at any time during the scouts’ stay.
In case of emergency, 59 U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps personnel, many from the WNY-based Henry E. Mooberry Division, trained and equipped to provide, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, firefighting, emergency communications, incident management and crowd control, took turns standing fire, safety and security watches throughout the night, keeping the scouts secure while they slept.
The excessive heat cancelled the outdoor performances of the Naval Academy’s Electric Brigade rock band and the Air Force Band’s Airmen of Note jazz band, scheduled by JBAB’s Protocol Office on different evenings during the scout’s stay.
However, performances by the U.S. Marine Corps Band, U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps and the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team went as scheduled.
Once in a lifetime
Los Angeles, Ca. Troop 121 Scoutmaster Ruben Hueso, said jokingly, “Yes, it was hot, but that was part of the fun. If anyone complains send them the [lodging] bill.” He added, “We traveled cross-country. Not having to pay for a week’s lodging was very important for our meager budget.”
Staying at the NSF, “Allowed us to spend a solid week in the Capital, touring all the important landmarks. The memories made possible for our troop are priceless! We salute the Navy for opening [its] doors to us,” Hueso added.
JBAB’s Warfighter and Family Services team permitted the scouts access to its volleyball and soccer fields; bowling alley and outdoor pool, as well as the Funari Dining Facility, where scouts ate and purchased boxed lunches for use during their day trips.
More than one scout leader made it clear – without NSAW’s hosting, some scouts would never have been able to be a part of history.
“The experience will be one that our boys will cherish for years to come. Our community has been hit hard over the last 20 years with seeing more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs disappear. Our troop fills a void in one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. I have no doubt that the opportunity to visit our nation’s capitol will in fact be a once in a lifetime event for most of our boys,” Assistant Scoutmaster Brad Knick of Anderson, Ind. said.
Scoutmaster Mark Arlauckas, from Troop 140 in Scottsville, NY, said, “As budget-conscious as our trip to the National Jamboree was, this was a truly essential part of our tour.”
While nearly all scouters were happy, at least one had a special request. “You did a wonderful job,” said Kevin M. Welsh, a scout leader in Murrells Inlet, S.C. “In the future, I would ask for a few things to help improve the stay: coffee please! I had a few people that require coffee before they are considered human,” he said with a smile.
NSAW Commanding Officer Capt. John Sears, said, “The military and scouts have a special relationship that goes back decades. Many people in our military have been scouts. We are proud to have opened our doors and provide the scouts with an opportunity to visit DC and help make the Centennial celebration a huge success.”
Story by Joseph P. Cirone, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling