Currently 120 scouts and 14 leaders from Hawk Mountain Council (Berks and Schuylkill Counties) are attending the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the new high adventure base - the Summit at Bechtel Reserve – in southern West Virginia. It is hot and it is exciting. Activities range from whitewater rafting and paddle boarding to rock climbing and rappelling to shooting sports, BMX biking and skateboarding and everything in between.
But along with the adventure of a lifetime are some life lessons being learned. This Jamboree, scouts will be sent out into the surrounding community for a day of service. Many projects involving cleaning, painting and constructing making for the biggest mass service project the area has ever seen. The area is a very rural area and many families and businesses are struggling.
Troop C422, the “Central” troop lead by Rick Henry, Mike Trubilla, Eric Strauss and Tyler Fitzgerald, was sent to help complete the Layland Miner’s Memorial. Layland Mine experienced one of West Virginia’s worst mine disasters in 1915 when an explosion killed over 100 miners. In a bright moment, however, more than 50 miners, thought to be dead, were actually saved after several days of rescue effort. The Layland Baptist Chruch sits about 25 feet away from the now collapsed mine entrance and has been trying to finish the memorial. During the service project, the scouts sat inside the church to eat lunch as a thunderstorm approached. In just a few minutes the rain was coming down in buckets and flash flood waters began to surround the church. One of the scouts noticed that the water was starting to seep under the basement door and immediately, without asking the leaders permission, quickly gathered the troop together and ran outside. Followed quickly by the leaders, the troop stood in the pouring rain and water and mud as deep as 2 ft in some places, frantically digging trenches and using anything they could find to redirect the water away from the church door.
When the rain had stopped and disaster was adverted, they were told just what good they had done. See, the church houses the food bank for hundreds of families in the area and had the water come into the basement, it would have destroyed the food and multiple refrigeration units. Hundreds of families would have gone hungry until it could have been replaced. As the church representative spoke, the scouts also realized that they had been trying to sell bricks to support the memorial but it had been going slowly. Each of the scouts walked up to the leaders and handed them $1 to total the $50 that they needed to purchase a brick toward the Memorial. The troop’s name will forever be attached to this memorial but the good they have done will reach further than they know, both for the scouts and for the community of Layland WV.
“It’s one of the proudest days of my scouting career,” said Rick Henry, jamboree scoutmaster. “These boys didn’t even think twice. They just reacted to an emergency situation and all worked together to do what needed to be done with minimal instruction from the adults in charge.”