Scouts from every corner of the United States and from around the world will be heading to West Virginia next summer for the 2023 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree – and AAPG is planning to not only have a presence at the event, but to be an important presence in the lives of potential geologists.
And to make it a truly special experience – for the Scouts as well as AAPG members – an organizing effort is starting now to compile a “team” of geologists who share a desire to help grow the next generation.
“We’re calling for geologists to share their stories and experience, and help staff the Geology Merit Badge pavilion.”
Interested in being part of the AAPG-AAPG Foundation’s involvement at the 2023 BSA National Jamboree? Just contact Ron Hart (chair) at [email protected].
That’s Ron Hart, an AAPG member who’s been crucial to the Association’s Jamboree initiative since 2001 and who is seeking to compile the next team for the 2023 event.
“As with past Jamborees, the AAPG Foundation is an active participant in organizing a pavilion for teaching the Geology Merit Badge,” Hart continued. “A big part of the National Jamboree program is the chance to see and experience things that may not be available in some part of the United States (or world).
“Many communities don’t have geologists,” he added, “and may not experience an active energy industry.”
AAPG and the AAPG Foundation have been active with the BSA Merit Badge Program since the 1940s, and AAPG’s Boy Scout Committee was the precursor to today’s AAPG Youth Education Activities Committee.
Volunteers from AAPG and the West Texas Geological Society provided joint support for the 20th-century activities, but since 2001 the AAPG Foundation has been a key sponsor of the Scouts’ Geology merit badge – an important aspect of the Jamboree experience.
“Both men and women can help and serve,” Hart said, reminding that the event now involves both boy and girl Scout participants. “Our total need is a staff of about 10-14 to serve full- or parttime during the 10-day run of the event.”
Volunteers don’t have to serve the entire 10 days of the Jamboree, although some full staff positions are available.
“Specifically, we also are looking for a few good grad students who have a more recent background with youth groups,” he added, “and we may be able to offer a modest honorarium to help offset expenses and lost income.”
The next BSA Jamboree will be held July 19-28 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, near Beckley, W.Va.
The quadrennial assembly is the single largest event on the BSA calendar and is expected to attract 10,000-15,000 boys and girls in “a celebration of friendship, camaraderie, training and 360-degree fun,” Hart said.
“We are all keen to present geology with a ‘petroleum accent,’” Hart said. “So many STEM programs educate youths about the exotic science and geology of the earth, but most fail to present the energy industry in a positive light, or they ignore petroleum all together.”
But, Hart added, “The energy industry is the largest single employer of geologists, and certainly the best-paying industry, so we want to highlight petroleum careers in an effort to attract some of the best-and-brightest youth.
“Scouting certainly gives us exposure to many outstanding young citizen-scientists in the 14-18 age range, just starting to formulate their career path and education plans.”
Making a Difference
Hart has been involved in scouting since he was 14, and currently is an adult leader with a Tulsa Scout troop. He still remembers vividly his first Jamboree experience – and how that experience led to improvements in the program.
“After the 2001 Jamboree our team realized the merit badge syllabus and book were outdated, so our team continued to stay connected and we revised the requirement,” he said.
The team also published materials for the current Geology Merit badge. Approximately 16,000 scouts earn their Geology Merit badge each year.
“There really isn’t a formal committee for this,” Hart said. “The first time I did this as part of the AAPG Youth Education Activities Committee, but the Foundation took responsibility for it during the 2005 Jamboree.”
With the Foundation’s support, “I just gather up some AAPG members and other geologists who want to work with Scouts,” he said.
And about this year’s initiative …
“We want geologists who are willing teach from a syllabus and answer questions,” he said. “Part of our display is to show-and-tell material that may not be in the Scouting merit badge syllabus, so a wide general knowledge is best,” he said.
But wait, there’s more.
“A person who is not comfortable teaching can still help,” Hart added. “We need several admin people and docents. And field trips? We are not allowed to leave the Summit Bechtel Reservation property, but on-site walkabouts are possible – if we get the right kind of volunteer.
“The property abounds with fossils,” he teased.
New to Be in ’23
This is the first Jamboree that will see girls as part of the regular units, Hart said.
Historically, Jamborees have attracted 35,000-40,000 Scouts, he explained, with about 10 percent of that number being girls, who have been connected to the event since 1971 via the Explorer/Venture programs. But girls were allowed to register with regular Scout units for the past four years.
Also, attendance will be limited.
“Originally scheduled in 2021, this Jamboree was rescheduled several times over concerns about the COVID virus,” Hart said. “In addition, this will be smaller to lessen the people density in this outdoor event.”
Expect a size in 2023 of about 12,000-15,000 scouts, plus another 2,000 adult leaders.
The Summit Bechtel site, in southern West Virginia, is a major coal and lumber producing region. Most of the larger shale plays are north of Beckley, with the Marcellus Shale being the state’s primary producer.
While the team recruiting starts now, Hart hopes to have a full team in place by February (although, he added, “We have taken last-minute volunteers in the past”).
The priority is having “enough to cover all the bases.”
Scouting experience helps, just for the sake of familiarity with sleeping in tents and eating in a large dining hall, he said, “but any normal person will adapt quickly” to the routine.
“We will offer several Zoom training sessions prior to the Jamboree, and we will organize our volunteers in the few days prior to the Jamboree start, while we are at the camp setting up,” he said. “Really, no prior Scouting experience is necessary.”
Those interested in either volunteering or in knowing more about the program can contact Ron Hart at [email protected] All staffers must be U.S. citizens and must register as an Adult Leader with the Boy Scouts of America (the committee can help with the process).