A rare photo of my dad hiking at the 1985 Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia. For as far as the eye could see, you could see scouts and scout leaders hiking along the pine filled trail.
A Remembrance of the 1985 Boy Scout Jamboree
By Richard Mabey Jr.
The Boy Scout Jamboree is held once every four years. Boy Scout Troop 170 was the first scout troop of the Boonton District to attend the big scout jambo. To say it was a big deal, is the understatement of the year. It is hard to convey how many scouts and scout leaders are at a National Boy Scout Jamboree. No doubt, thousands upon thousands.
My dad had served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170, beginning in September of 1965. So, basically this was a 20-year dream come true, to attend the big Jambo at Fort A. P. Hill in Virginia. The scouts had the time of their lives. To put it simply, they had a blast! And, for that matter, so did the scout leaders of good old 170.
I remember this moment in time so very well. I was walking with Ray Fick, one of my fellow Assistant Scoutmasters of our troop, along the pine bordered trail into the grand entranceway to Jamboree 85! Well, Dad was walking just a few feet ahead of us. For some reason, I decided to take a picture of my dad walking ahead of us. And, ahead of Dad, as far as the human eye could see, Boy Scouts from all over the world were hiking ahead of us to reach the grand entranceway. It was a great moment in time.
I remember that right after I had taken the photo of Dad walking ahead of us, Ray called out to Dad, “Dick, wait up for us.” And, so Dad waited up for us. Then, the three of us walked the pine laden trail together.
I remember at one point along the trail, Dad said to Ray and I, “Ray, I’m 57 years old. I’ve been a Scoutmaster for 20 years. I never thought that I’d have the chance to attend one of these big jamoborees.”
Ray took a moment and then said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before, Dick. I had no idea this was going to be such a big deal.” Ray was a very smart man. Ray installed and repaired air conditioning and heating systems for a living. I remember my dad once said, “if Ray can’t fix it, no one can.” Dad was referring to any air conditioning or heating system on the market.
Well, after a couple of miles of walking among the pine, we reached the grand entranceway to the 1985 National Boy Scout Jamboree. I think it put the entranceway to Disney World to shame. It was just that grand and glorious.
At the entranceway, Ray’s son, Bobby called Troop 170 to fall in, in a single line. Bobby Fick was our Senior Patrol Leader at the time. What then transpired told me so much about the goodness and compassion that resided in my dad’s heart. You see, at the big Jamboree there are thousands of scouts there from all over the world. One of the biggest things for scouts to do, is to trade patches.
Well, Dad had his camera case strap strewn over his right shoulder. Dad had a fantastic 35 millimeter camera! I thought that all Dad had in his camera case was his camera and about a dozen rolls of film. However, to my surprise, when Dad opened up his camera case, I saw that he had a few hundred scout patches in his case.
He had them all counted out in plastic bags. Each scout got a plastic bag with 30 different scout patches in it. There were 20 scouts from Troop 170 that went to the 85 Jamboree! So, in a matter of a few minutes, Dad gave out 600 scout patches to the scouts of Troop 170. It was an amazing thing to see.
Some of the scouts jumped up and down with joy. Some quietly looked at the stack of scout patches that their Scoutmaster had just given them. But all the scouts had smiles on their faces. This was practically the entire scout patch collection that my Dad had been collecting for 20 years! It was such a beautiful thing to see.
I remember Ray turned to Dad, after Dad gave away his patch collection. “Dick, that was really nice of you.”
Dad turned to Ray and said, “Ray, I’m 57. What good are they really doing me? I’d rather have the scouts have them.”
Dad loved scouting. He took his role as Scoutmaster very seriously. He taught me so very much about First Aid, knot tying, pioneering, camping, hiking, and living the ideals of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. I loved him dearly. I miss him very much.